Utilizing Extremely Resilient Valves in Mexican MinesWed, 10/21/2015 - 18:51
Eduardo Robles Verdugo, Techflow’s Regional Manager for the Northwest Region of Mexico, finds the mining industry interesting for the way a single mine can yield a large economic impact on regions or even countries. This does not just refer to the fallout of its minerals once they are extracted, but also to the complexity of the supply chain that keeps the mine ticking. For instance, Buenavista del Cobre is in Sonora, but the measurement equipment it uses comes from the US, England, and Germany. For Robles Verdugo, mining processes are particularly dynamic since processing the amount of minerals produced by contemporary mining operations requires equipment that can control the processes and allow operators to make informed decisions. He points out that Techflow’s robust valves were specifically created for manufacturing processes and are well-adapted to mining challenges. For example, the mining industry faces the problem of using pipes to transport abrasive fluids with a high content of solid particles. “Some fluids are so abrasive that the valves used to control the flow last only three months,” details Robles Verdugo. “In order to improve a plant’s productivity and extend the equipment’s working life, Techflow supplies gauging and fluid control solutions. Our company possesses the advantage of being closely linked to international manufacturers that make long-lasting valves specifically for these purposes.”
One such manufacturer, which Techflow represents, is Connecticut-based CiDRA Instruments. This company manufactures a fluid-measuring device that uses passive sonar. The highly precise instrument is installed on the pipes’ exterior and has come to widely replace the standard technique of ultrasonic waves, which did not work properly due to problems with incrustations forming inside the pipes and the high amount of dissolved solids. CiDRA’s product overcomes these challenges and is now commonly used in processes such as feeding mineral pulp. It also surpasses any wear and tear objections since these measurement tools have a working life of up to ten years. “We usually strive to partner with manufacturers that offer an innovative product that is designed for long-term use in order to increase efficiency in mining and metallurgic processes,” comments Robles Verdugo. On the measuring side, Techflow also represents German manufacturer KROHNE, which makes magnetic measuring devices for highly corrosive fluids such as lixiviants and electrolytes used in copper extraction.
Crane Energy is another manufacturer that places its trust on Techflow, and is responsible for Sounders diaphragm valves. The components of these valves are manufactured in England, the assembly takes place in the US, and the final product is then exported to Mexico. Crane Energy also produces the Tufline and Flowseal valve of brands, both of which are mining mainstays. Although Tufline valves are manufactured in Chihuahua, Robles Verdugo believes Mexico has not yet stood out as a destination for the high quality production of valves and related instruments. This is slowly changing with companies like K. Valves International now producing ball valves and piston valves in Guadalajara.
Techflow first came to life as a distributor in 2005 and now has five regional offices with its headquarters in Piedras Negras, Coahuila. Each office takes care of specific mining clients, all of which rely on Techflow’s valves and measurement instruments. The Torreon office focuses on mines like Peñoles’ Velardeña and Goldcorp’s Peñasquito. The Sabinas office looks after AHMSA, and the Hermosillo office caters to important mines from players such as Grupo Mexico, Peñoles, Minera Frisco, and Minera Boleo. “For ten years we have focused on being a reliable supplier, which has yielded positive results. The fact that Techflow currently represents several high-quality, reputable brands has enabled us to secure our presence in the national mining industry,” tells Robles Verdugo. The mining industry accounts for 80% of Techflow’s sales, with the energy sector being responsible for the remaining 20%.
To make its business more flexible, Techflow has engineered several distribution models. If a company requests a product directly from the manufacturer, the client is put in touch with Techflow. Certain mining groups, Robles Verdugo explains, have suppliers in countries such as the US because they find it easier to buy equipment directly from there. In these cases, Techflow acts as a representative and gives clients an estimate issued by the manufacturer. To compete for the attention of clients that seek to go straight to the source, Techflow gets discounts from manufacturers when supplying a mine in Mexico. This allows Techflow to offer valves at a more competitive price. In these cases, Robles Verdugo’s company also seeks to go the extra mile by handling the logistics, importation process, and delivery. He also points out that many manufacturers create specific distribution zones within Mexico, and Techflow is more usually entrusted with the northern and central regions. However, as a mark of confidence, RF Valves gave Techflow representation rights for its products nationwide.