Carlos Caicedo
General Manager
Atlas Copco
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View from the Top

Value of Technology Drives the Success of a Global Portfolio

Mon, 10/21/2013 - 15:19

Q: What were the main areas of opportunity that existed in Mexico when you became General Manager of Excavation and Mining for Atlas Copco in 2011?

A: Mexico is a traditional mining country and the industry is vital for its economy. When I first arrived the business was already growing swiftly, and my main objective was to find a way to support the vast amount of mining businesses that were starting up in Mexico. I was amazed by the level of mining expertise that the company and each of our employees possess. Since then we grew the number of staff working in the workshops from 70 to 240, which shows just how much the company has grown here in Mexico.

Q: What are the most successful services and products that Atlas Copco offers to the Mexican mining industry?

A: Atlas Copco has 140 years of experience working for the mining sector. Throughout most of that time the company specialized in underground mining, but today we have excellent products for open pit mining as well. I am completely confident when I say that Atlas Copco offers the best state of the art drilling solutions for mining companies to meet the requirements of any customer. Our job is to facilitate the work of the operator and integrate our own systems with theirs. Atlas Copco has been working on its own automated drilling machine for open pit mines, which will allow mining companies to improve the efficiency of their operations. For underground mining we have autonomous drilling technologies, but we also supply everything that is needed to carry out subsurface operations. Mining companies that operate underground mines are very challenged in terms of security because maintaining communications inside the tunnel is not an easy task. Therefore, security is one of their biggest concerns. Atlas Copco has developed several control systems so that the machines can be operated remotely, without the need to expose operators to risk. Something that is also common to all of our technology is fuel efficiency. We have recently released our first fully electrical scoop machine, a tool that will drive great energy savings for our customers and will help to reduce their emissions. Mexico has adapted easily to the new wave of technology, and there are few countries that have as sophisticated mining sectors as Mexico. Atlas Copco has brought almost its entire international portfolio of services and products to the country. The value of our technology is particularly acute here because of the high energy cost.

Q: What are the main benefits of investing in automation for the Mexican mining industry?

A: It is not only a question of saving money; safety and precision are more important. We want to reduce the operators’ exposure to risks as far as possible. The fact that our technology is automated saves a tremendous amount of time, since there is little room for mistakes. Today, efficiency is everything for mining companies.

Q: What are the core competencies of Atlas Copco Mexico’s people, and how do they contribute to delivering world class productivity at the exploration and production stages?

A: The expertise of our people is what really boosts our competitiveness. Our engineers, operators, managers and service people have brought success to this company and to our customers at the international level. The business has grown so much that sometimes it is hard to find people with extraordinary talent who are not still in school, and we often recruit our employees directly from university. In order to do this we go to universities and talk to the universities’ directors, sharing our concerns regarding the availability of talent. We have excellent products, but without the right people to support it, this company would never have worked as well as it has. My recommendation to any company is to keep its talent growing, and to make sure that every person that belongs to the organization is well motivated and trained.

Q: What are Atlas Copco’s ambitions for its new division in Hermosillo, and what are the priorities in your development strategy?

A: There were two important reasons for opening this division: firstly, we wanted to improve our services and expertise in open pit mining; and secondly, because one of our open pit supply sources is in Dallas, and it will create logistical benefits for the company. All of the open pit drills we use are manufactured there, as well as spare parts. The idea is that this will make transportation more efficient. Of course, another important reason is that a lot of Atlas Copco’s mining customers are located in the area. Another important part of our strategy is to have a national network for businesses; we are currently expanding our reach to more territories within Mexico so that we can once again be close to our customers. There is a chance that we will start producing in Mexico again as well. This would be a good idea, due to the great market possibilities found in Mexico, but I am not sure when this will happen.