Solutions-based Thinking Sets European Cabling Company ApartBy Cas Biekmann | Thu, 02/04/2021 - 13:06
Q: How has TELE-FONIKA grown its market penetration in Mexico’s mining industry?
A: We are a subsidiary of TELE-FONIKA Cable, based in Poland. Since 1984, it has worked out of Chicago, among other worldwide locations. The Chicago office deals with clients from Canada to South America, including Mexico. The country has a very strong cable production base that requires foreign companies to bring a very different product to market if they want success. Some world-leading cable producers are Mexican and the competition is high. We now have a market share that ranges between 30 and 40 percent, while the remaining share is split between national cable companies.
However, for more specialized cables, we control the market and have, effectively, no competition. These are for cables that no one else manufactures in Mexico, let alone the world. We have mining clients that were not able to find the cables they needed anywhere else but with us. Specialist cables could be considered our niche.
While the Mexican market competes on low price, our goal is the higher end market and our cables can be expensive. This is because the quality is so high. We sell a lower volume of cables than our competitors but our margins on each sale are far higher because of the quality and value we provide.
Q: What is the added value of your cables to mining companies?
A: The majority of underground mines operate in atmospheres that have 70 to 80 percent humidity. The cables are basically leaking water. This has an impact on the electrical systems for the water pump system that the mine relies on. This is also of great concern regarding the health and safety of workers. Miners want cables that will work in these high humidity conditions so that the water pump system does not fail and personnel are safe. This is what we provide.
Another important advantage our cables provide is their visibility. The majority of underground cables are not seen because they are under water or under mud. This causes leaks or frequent breakages of cables, as teams move and work below ground. Because these cables are copper, these breakages end up costing companies millions of dollars a year. Therefore, clients want visibility on their cables. But national companies have not yet risen to his challenge. TELE-FONIKA creates cables with visibility throughout the cable. This visibility is the same as those found in planes. In the case of an accident, the lights on the floor light up. This cable, which we call Jumbo Flex, has helped mining companies save on costs and has delivered safety improvements.
We have also noticed that cables can tighten over the course of the day due to the number of times they are rolled and unrolled by teams moving water pumps. When this happens, water cannot be removed from the mine. Should the cable snap completely, it can be extremely dangerous. We have introduced a cable made with polyurethane, which can be stretched to four times its length without breaking. We introduced this cable, known as TPU, and it delivered immediate success.
One of our newest mining solutions is the SHDGC cable for diggers. The cables need to be extremely tough because they are exposed to very harsh conditions, especially when rocks fall on them. Other machines sometimes roll over them as well. TELE-FONIKA SHDGC cables guarantee heightened levels of durability and visibility.
Q: What other valuable services does the company provide, other than the sale of products?
A: Prior to the sale of a cable, our personnel travel to the mines and view the operational sites. They perform specific calculations that provide clients with exact measurement details for the lengths of cables they will need. Without these calculations, cables may fail if clients put too much tension on them, resulting in extremely dangerous situations. These measurements are backed by guidelines from international groups. This cannot be done via telephone or Zoom; it must be done by professionally trained people. This is a valuable service we provide. There are three engineers for each region in the country.
Q: How is TELE-FONIKA approaching the Mexican market in 2021?
A: During the last six years, we have focused on positioning the brand in Mexico. This was vital for building success in the mining sector. Our plans now are to move into the oil and gas industry. We have a variety of high-end cable solutions for offshore platforms and subsea applications. Among these are electrical cables that include fiber optics, meaning that communications can also be passed through them.
We also offer high-tension SXLP cables that are used for electrical distribution. We will attack the utilities market, which is controlled by CFE, and attempt to win clients in that segment. CFE has already asked us to participate in some tenders. Finally, we want to begin pushing sales of our fiber optic cables. It is a buoyant market in which we have great experience. We believe it offers great potential in Mexico.
TELE-FONIKA Cable Americas is a subsidiary of Polish international cabling company TELE-FONIKA KABLE. The Americas subsidiary is one of eight worldwide and offers cabling solutions for mining, oil and gas and the renewables industries.