Gerardo Martínez
General Manager
Hilti Mexicana

International Standards Hasten Tooling Modernity

Wed, 01/21/2015 - 11:38

When in 2009, global tool manufacturer Hilti opened a plant in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, in order to supply metal construction fasteners to the markets of North and Latin America, noone had a sense of the groundbreaking Energy Reform that five years later would give a fortuitous meaning to such investment in Mexico. The projections that are tracing the speed with which the market will undertake technological changes have inspired the company to triple its business by 2020. Gerardo Martínez, Director General of Hilti Mexicana, explains that the Energy Reform is bringing more resources and investment, which is music to his ears. “This will accelerate our opportunities to grow within the local offshore industry,” he adds.

For 35 years, the Liechtenstein-based company has been a leading supplier of innovative tools and fastening systems for the Mexican construction industry. With diverse product lines that include industrial saws, passive fire protection devices, and anchors, Hilti has provided solutions for civil engineering projects, industrial facilities, water treatment facilities, tunnels, mines, and petrochemical works across the country. These products have also been deployed in various PEMEX projects in the downstream segment. However, Martínez intends to tap into the offshore market through the forthcoming investments by delivering products not only to NOCs and IOCs but to any other company that will require specialized equipment. On the other hand, as PEMEX seeks to become more competitive, opportunities to define new standards in the country will emerge. This will be one of the most important catalysts for Hilti’s growth in Mexico, since Martínez expects that more than half of the company’s activities will come from the oil and gas sector. “We have plenty of experience and a track record of guaranteed results in the onshore segment. I can confidently state that Hilti is the company seizing most of the onshore opportunities present across Latin America.” However, given its limited experience in Mexican offshore operations so far, the company will be strategically developing this area over the next seven years. “Across all our products, we help our clients from the initial concept and the engineering stage until the project is built and operating,” says Paulo Merino, Commercial Director of Hilti Mexicana’s natural resources and energy division. “Our areas of expertise range from power tools for multi-purpose applications such as grating and steel fastening, post-installed anchors, fire-stopping solutions, measuring and leveling, decking and grating, electrical fastening, raised floor supports, and powder or gas-actuated systems fastened in concrete or steel.” The company’s grating fastening solution, an assembling system that provides an alternative to traditional welding, is suited to the different grid levels of offshore platforms, is entirely removable, and allows the grates to be disassembled and reassembled for maintenance without having to be repainted. “This product is quite new for the offshore industry in Mexico, although it is already well known in the onshore segment. Worldwide, this system has already become a standard for the industry because it improves the productivity of the construction and maintenance phases by preventing corrosion at the attachment point. It also offers greater safety to the operators.”

Hilti also provides support systems for raised floors, which are used in the instrumentation and control rooms. “Our modular design is superior to the competition in terms of the cargo it can handle by leaving more space between the supports. Using the same system, Hilti also manufactures pipe supports and all kinds of electrical instrumentation and fastening protection. Ultimately, our product portfolio covers a wide range of power tools for the construction of offshore platforms, vessels, or FPSOs, as well as specific tools for the construction and maintenance of these structures,” says Merino. Another area in which Hilti offers innovative solutions is fire prevention. Much is known about active protection, sprinklers and extinguishers, but what the multinational proposes is called passive protection. “When a fire breaks out, the heat and smoke spread across other spaces, which can lead to casualties. Hilti provides solutions that create passive seals, ensuring that the effects of a fire are contained within a single zone until emergency mechanisms are activated,” Merino describes. Besides fire protection, Hilti’s offshore clients require channels to be sealed against water in case the platforms sink. This is new technology in Mexico, which is why insurance companies are pushing oil and gas companies to invest in it.

Finally, Hilti does not drive sales through intermediaries, agents, or distributors, but prefers to go directly to the end users to deliver its solutions. Additionally, the company offers presale and aftermarket services. During the presale stage, it advises its customers to choose the most suitable products while helping them in the design of a project. For example, before selling anchors or fasteners to support pipes and tray cables, Hilti does its own calculations and provides a report which justifies why a certain product is the most suitable.