with Horacio Fájer, Mexico, Kidde de Mexico
When my colleagues met you, you commented that you wanted to double Kidde’s presence in Mexico in 4 years, did you achieve it?
Yes we did. Our market segmentation strategy has worked well to help us achieve our objective and sustain growth over the past four to five years. In addition, as a company we have been actively working with our partners, customers and other stakeholders to help develop enhanced safety standards that will benefit the entire industry. As a result, Kidde is recognised as one of the leaders and promoters of fire safety norms and standards in the country.
Last time we meet you had just joined Kidde de Mexico and you were quite shocked with the level of awareness in fire safety issues in Mexico. How do you evaluate it now and how has Kidde contributed to its improvements? In the last few years Kidde has been involved in many different initiatives to raise awareness and build a strong culture around safety in the industry, for example the change in the NOM-002 from the Labour Ministry. We have been an active participant, trying to promote changes in the NOM-002 which will enable a higher degree of compliance with regulations that will lead to higher safety grades for all work centers, including oil and gas.We have also been participating in committees to change standards for specific products, such as the dry chemical powder used in fire extinguishers. The applicable standard for dry chemical powder was controlled by the Ministry of Labour. As part of the committee we advocated that, as a product standard, this standard should be controlled by the Secretary of Economy. Now we are developing a standard for dry chemical powder that will be managed by the Secretary of Economy. Instead of regulating the content of the powder, this new standard will require any company which is producing or importing a dry chemical powder as a fire suppressant to be used inside fire extinguishers to demonstrate that the powder is capable of extinguishing fires.This requirement is a standard practice in other countries. As a result, we are going start fire ratings for the powder. Each fire extinguisher will have a numerical rating that will serve as a guide for the amount of fire the extinguisher can handle. This initiative is very important since fire extinguishers are the most common and popular devices for fire protection. The new standards will ensure that fire extinguishers work as they are supposed to and also help people use the right fire extinguisher for the different types of fires in work centers across the country.
It mustn’t be easy to push through such initiatives?
New initiatives are never easy, because the non-regulated markets tend to be very difficult to change. Things can be delicate and often take time to implement.
When we were here before you mentioned that PeMex was critical in achieving your ambitions, especially in expanding your presence into offshore platforms, as well as making inroads into refineries and petrochemical plants. How strong is Kidde’s presence in refinery and petrochemicals today?
I will break up the answer into two parts. Firstly, Yes, a portion of our recent growth in the offshore and marine business is due to our expanded relationship with Pemex. Kidde Mexico now maintains fire systems in turbo-machinery, open areas and habitation units. This was the first source of growth – expanding what we already had in the marine region. Secondly, in order to work on the petro-chemical side and in the refineries, we needed to increase the installed base of our equipment. To accomplish this we partnered with a number of construction companies that had won the expansion of the projects including the Minatitlan Expansion. At least four complexes there now have our equipment. We are also working on expansions in Tula and Salamanca. Through these successful partnerships Kidde has been able to penetrate the petrochemical and the refinery sectors. Once Kidde equipment is in the new expanded facility, we can provide the maintenance, thereby upholding the viability of the fire systems which will keep the facilities and assets safe at all times.
It is said that 2011 will be a turning point and that the huge investment that Pemex EP is putting in will soon pay off. How is Kidde preparing to tackle these opportunities?
I always look with some skepticism on the news about the speed at which the industry is going to move. We have to wait and see. What I can tell you is that we are preparing ourselves. The best assets we have to offer are our highly trained technicians. As you can imagine it is very difficult to maintain the degree of knowledge, abilities and skills in the technicians that we need to have. Kidde technicians are fully trained on the products, systems and procedures that we use to maintain the security and safety of the fire equipment, and facilities that Pemex is holding.Kidde is committed to better training and development of skills in the overall fire protection industry in Mexico, and is planning to offer training and certification to the Pemex crew in Spanish. Training and certification in Spanish is very important as we are dealing with technical language – such as instrumentation and controls, electronics, mechanics, and hydraulics. Until now this information has only been offered in English, which makes it very difficult to understand for the local crew. For the first time, we are going to have an engineering manager who will be certified to train workers on flame and gas equipment in Spanish.This is just one example of how we are preparing ourselves for some of the upcoming opportunities.
What are your future goals and ambitions for these operations?
In the oil and gas industry we want to continue providing innovative products and services to our customers that keep people and property safe, and also be a leading voice in the industry on setting standards. On the product side something new that we are working on are wireless devices for fire protection systems used in drilling operations. Why wireless? Because it represents a decrease in investment for the customer since multiple cables will not be needed to connect all the instruments. However, there are considerable challenges related to bringing any new technology or product to the market and currently we are investigating and doing research on these wireless devices.
How difficult is it in a country like Mexico to deal with just one client and with so much competition?
Kidde is one of the very few companies in Mexico that can provide full fire protection and safety solutions to our customers. Also what is better for us, in the long run, is that we have been able to demonstrate that we can sustain the systems beyond 98 percent availability. It is key for our main customer, Pemex, to have all the fire systems beyond 98 percent. And that is our goal – to satisfy our customers.
So that might be a reason why in terms of safety Pemex did so well in 2010?
Kidde has a record of more than five years with zero accidents on the work we have performed. We also contribute in setting a safety culture on the rigs where we participate based on our commitment and best practices applied under our Environment, Health & Safety system.
You made the company grow and positioned it among the leaders in its niche. What is next for you?
Kidde Mexico is part of UTC Fire & Security, which has grown significantly over the last few years. Through our portfolio of market-leading brands we provide a full-range of fire safety and security solutions to customers around the world. Our goal is to make the latest fire and safety technology and solutions available to our customers in Mexico. For example, Marioff Corp., a UTC Fire & Security company based in Finland, is a leading provider of Hi-FOG® water mist fire protection system. The HI-FOG® system forms a mist (water fog) consisting of small droplets of water that suppress and extinguish fire in a highly efficient way, and uses 70 to 90 percent less water than traditional sprinklers.We believe that HI-FOG® is a system that the oil and gas industry should be looking towards in the years to come. Applying this technology to turbo-machinery on rigs could provide substantial advantages as less water means less damage, faster clean up and less business interruption.
And this technology is already available ?
Yes, the technology is already available, and in fact one of our systems is installed on a Pemex facility in Villahermosa, and we will be providing maintenance for it. Kidde is committed to becoming a leader in providing environmentally friendly solutions, and HI-FOG® is an excellent example of one such system that will help us become an industry leader.
How important is the Oil & Gas industry for Kidde ?
The oil and gas industry is key for us globally as we provide a wide range of products through UTC Fire & Security, such as Det-Tronics, Fenwal and HI-FOG® and many others.Around the world, our products are very well known. In flame and gas detection we are the leading company in technology with our Det-Tronics brand. Many large oil and gas companies are using our technologies around the world. One of the advantages of being a global company is that we are constantly learning from our experiences in other parts of the world allowing us to continuously improve our products and processes in Mexico. It can also work the other way around and what we have done here in Mexico is clearly a know-how that we can share with other customers globally. For instance we have been participating in some meetings to share our Mexican expertise on how to do integral maintenance for the fire systems in England and many other places.
What would you like to say to our readers about Kidde Mexico and the future of this country?
Never neglect safety. In our operations within Pemex we have had zero accidents in the past five years. That is because we have been able to train, educate, and report even a “near miss” – which is almost an accident, and something that could eventually become an accident. At Kidde we do an excellent job, with risk analysis, corrective actions, and as a result we can avoid incidents happening again. The key for the fire protection industry is how to assess risk. Risk assessment is the starting point and we know how to do it.Discipline to implement the security and safety systems is another aspect and strength for any company in this country. Hence I would like to say to the management, that all companies should make a commitment to security and safety.