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Reducing deviations, and innovating with artificial intelligence

Published 23.9.2022

In this interview, Antonio Frías talks about COLMEX, providing vital input for projects to enhance their efficiency and competitiveness.

 Antonio Frías has been running the COLMEX hub since its creation in 2019. Today, with operations in Monterrey, Tabasco, Veracruz and Ciudad Juárez, the Center is an indispensable source of support for projects, helping to achieve cost savings throughout their different stages, from bidding and mobilization to start-up and demobilization.

For example, at the bidding process, the Center coordinates the logistics studies in the area where the project will be built, providing the information needed to draw up a budget reflecting real values. This also helps to accurately determine which logistics services are needed, taking into account local availability for outsourcing.

Antonio Frías · running the COLMEX hub since its creation.

Where did the idea of the Logistics Center come from?

It was first raised in 2019, during meetings with the Director of Operations of the Northern Area, Vilson Rigon, where we agreed that it was becoming urgent to reorganize the Logistics and General Services sector, as there were a number of critical gaps. One of the most pressing issues was what to do with the large number of leftover materials, known as remnants, from projects that had already been completed.

In 2020, after reorganizing the General Services sector at the Hot Rolling Mill (LACA) project, I was asked to start work with COLMEX, a particularly challenging task, as at the time, we had to work online with the different regions in the context of the pandemic.

Our remit is to create more efficiency and order, leading to costs savings by streamlining the organization of project remnants, with a view to being self-sustaining but not for profit.

July 2022 was COLMEX’s three-year anniversary: what are the milestones achieved and what benefits has it created for the company?

We’ve notched up quite a few milestones over these three years, but I’d highlight the fact that we managed to set up a plan to organize, classify and sell remnants from completed projects. This produced significant savings for new projects by not having to purchase materials that we now had in stock, such as tools and minor pieces of equipment or installation materials. In the last fiscal year, we achieved purchasing savings of some USD 4,39 million in the last 24 months.

Another key step was that, in 2021, we created a Monitoring Center under the COLMEX umbrella, located in Monterrey, to improve road safety and protect company employees and assets. The Center monitors the fleet of cargo and personnel transport vehicles at our projects using GPS and CCTV online platforms. They also work with our Road Safety Observation system to monitor people’s driving behavior on the road and on-site.

Using AI, we can identify drivers using facial recognition tools and spot traffic offenses such as driving without a seat belt, not wearing a face mask, being distracted or drowsy, skipping stops, not observing the safe distance between units, making sudden turns, and the possibility of a frontal collision, for instance. We’ve also established specific deviation alerts in the TEIC working procedure GU SAF 008 (Braking-Sudden acceleration, Out of hours, Speeding). It’s been set up so that we can also score each operator on their defensive driving.

The center began to issue reports independently of the Center of Training and Control Vehicle in Peru as of February 2022. As of June of this year, with the activities in the Dos Bocas Refinery especially, the units had tripled, however, the deviations had decreased by 40%.

Currently, the Center is performing three types of monitoring: A) road monitoring, using tachographs to record information about driving time, speed and distance; B) monitoring company employees from the time of their departure at the place of origin until their return; C) asset monitoring—which is in the initial stages—to check on offices, entry/exit gates and warehouses.

What’s the team working at COLMEX like?

There are currently 13 of us running the operation. These are Ramon Nino (PyCP), Victor Hernández (Admin and Finance), Rafael Hernández, Nicolás Duran, Matías Bregant and Jackeline Rangel (General Services), Adrian Rabago (Fuel and Operator Certification), Ester Gamarra (Fuel, Accommodation and Office), Alejandro Dorantes, Henry Pérez, Alejandro Espinosa (Warehouse) and Keren Carvajal (Monitoring Center) with their assorted teams.

What’s the process to make the most of project leftovers?

We begin by drawing up a work plan with the team to identify the remnants once a project has been completed to determine how much stock there is versus what’s in the system. Then we classify all the materials and tools to identify those in good condition with their respective certification, as appropriate.

Next, we carry out repairs and maintenance for minor equipment and tools, such as welders, electrical panels, measuring equipment, lifting equipment, etc., in coordination with our own personnel or third parties, if necessary, ensuring we have all the corresponding guarantees.

Once all the stages in this process have been completed, we issue an offer to our projects underway and coordinate transport and shipping logistics. Since the idea is to benefit projects, we only charge them a percentage of the cost of the tools or materials requested.

How do COLMEX services help the company to remain competitive and innovate?

I believe that as a first-rate company, we deserve logistics and services of the same standard. We’re not only working to improve organization at an administrative level, but also to train professionals in the sector to carry out the responsibilities involved in Logistics and General Services at each of our projects.

Services such as meals, accommodation, personnel transport and others do need to be organized properly and meet project needs, but the company’s global procedures also have to be respected, and we must ensure that costs do not go over budget.

At COLMEX, our job is to improve these controls and processes. One example is the introduction of HR Mobile, which is more agile, provides greater transparency and avoids using paper, as it’s all online, which also makes it environmentally friendly.

What are COLMEX's plans for the future?

We have lots of projects underway focusing on innovation in management, especially in the General Services area, to streamline work and improve the quality of control at each of the projects.

For instance, we’re creating a Power BI control panel for systems, to be integrated with HR Mobile, so that each active project has access to accurate data on-the-spot.

We’ve also launched a scaffolding administration system through COLMEX, which works like this: as our works amortize, we buy the rented scaffolding so that we have a reasonable stock and can supply future projects, without having to rent it on the market. This not only leads to savings, enabling us to draw up more competitive offers, but also help us have better control over materials that have historically led to cost overruns due to loss, breakage or theft.

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