"In the past, we used to deal with the mechanical and engineering departments, but now we are dealing with the IT departments."
How has the pandemic impacted Martin Engineering’s Latin American operations?
The mining industry in Latin America has been heavily affected with some operations reduced to 50% or stopped completely. In Brazil and Chile the mines remained more active, but in Mexico, Peru and Colombia the lockdowns were stricter. From a business standpoint, the pandemic has emphasized the importance of remote access to operations and remote monitoring of equipment, products and facilities.
What new technologies and processes has the company been developing in line with the new working conditions?
We have been working on technology for remote monitoring, involving electronics, sensors, analytics and also the mechanical side, so it will be safer to service our products with less frequency. Something else we have been doing a lot of, in Peru especially, is technical webinars to give support to Martin Engineering’s customers. The idea is to train local teams to be safer, cleaner and more productive, and we have now taught thousands of customers throughout the Americas since lockdown began.
Can you elaborate on the features of Martin Engineering’s N2 Position Indicator for belt cleaners?
Martin Engineering’s N2 Position Indicator is a sensor for belt cleaners that allows for remote monitoring of the belt cleaner blade. This senses how the cleaner is working, its tension and position; it has an alarm equipped if there is an accident such as a fire, and lets the customer know the wear-life of the pieces. The sensor sends all the data to a gateway that analyzes it to provide important information for the customer through an app or computer, and also for Martin Engineering to continuously develop and improve our products. This is real time information delivered remotely, that includes locations, condition reports, and predictions of when blades have to be replaced.
What are some of the standout mining projects Martin Engineering has been working on in recent years?
We work with the main players across Latin America, having specialized technicians close to the projects of our key clients. Martin Engineering’s Peru HQ is in Lima, but we also have a really strong team in Arequipa, and have expanded our footprint to the north of the country as well. We serve clients including Southern Copper, Cerro Verde, Las Bambas and Miski Mayo, to name a few. In Peru, we are implementing a stand-alone pneumatic tension system for our cleaners that will keep the tension to the required level (whether it is for primary, secondary or tertiary cleaners) all the time, until the blade runs out. This saves time and money, as well as reducing risk.
Do you think mining companies are more willing to adopt new innovation these days?
This differs depending on the country and depending on the company, but certainly people are asking more about innovation and new technologies these days. Industry leaders such as Vale, Newmont and Southern Copper are some of the most active in these conversations around Industry 4.0. In the past, we used to deal with the mechanical and engineering departments, but now we are dealing with the IT departments.
How do you view Peru as a mining jurisdiction compared to other Latin American nations?
When Peru really realizes and accepts it is a mining country, it will do even better than it currently is. For instance, Chile and Brazil really believe that they are mining countries and support the mining industry much more than in Peru. While Peru is not yet one of the largest markets for Martin Engineering, it does hold huge potential for growth, much more than in Chile. Despite the challenges in the country, we grew by double digits in Peru in 2019, and have high expectations for a strong rebound in 2021 after the disturbance of the pandemic.
What is Martin Engineering’s vision for the future?
Martin Engineering wants to be recognized as a global leader in mining technology and strengthen our presence in Latin America. Importantly, we want to work closely with our customers, communities and our families. The industry needs to be more responsible with the environment, and Martin Engineering is focused on preventing waste with its products. We offer solutions that will give long-term benefits to clients, and we are open to work together on this innovation process.