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Interview – Luis Gutiérrez, Maintenance Superintendent

PrePredictive maintenance allows companies to maximize the use of mining assets. Ax Legal spoke with Luis Gutiérrez, currently a Maintenance Superintendent at Thiess Chile. Luis has more than eighteen years of experience in maintenance and management roles both in Chile and internationally.

Ax Legal: Based on your experience, could you tell us how maintenance functions in the mining companies you have worked for?

Luis: Maintenance has been in a constant evolution for some time. It has progressed from scheduled maintenance according to the OEM plans, towards maintenance based on reliability. Maintenance based on reliability means that the main inputs for making the maintenance plans are through the backlogs (failures that can be managed and planned), monitoring and conditions, and periodic inspections.

Ax Legal: How have maintenance operations changed in the mining industry in the last 5 years?

Luis: I think that the mining operation have been increasingly incorporating technology to operate the machines autonomously and now they are working on moving to different fuels to generate less impact on the environment. Currently, they are working on a form of fuel (hydrogen) with the aim of decarbonizing mining and in turn using renewable energy. Changes in technology mean that the maintenance operations also need to adapt.

Ax Legal: Are there differences in how the maintenance operations of mining companies are managed in Latin America compared to other countries in the world? Which ones have you worked on?

Luis: Clearly Chile is a country that is very advanced compared to the rest of Latin America in terms of its mining operations. Mainly related to technological issues and better operating or maintenance processes. I have worked in Cuba. There was nothing based on reliability. I had to implement a maintenance management system that moved the operation from the most basic of structure to one that was based on reliability.

Ax Legal: What kinds of technological changes are happening in the maintenance industry?

Luis: I think the biggest technological change is happening in the maintenance processes where predictive management (tools for remote monitoring) are being used.

Ax Legal: There are many companies that offer predictive maintenance technology to mining companies. What are the factors that make one company offer better service than another?

Luis: Without a doubt, the main factor is the quality and delivery of action plans versus cost-benefits associated with the service.

Ax Legal: In your opinion, what are the typical problems that foreign companies have when introducing their technology in the Chilean maintenance industry?

Luis: The truth is that I have not had a bad experience. However, I believe that the way it is presented in our market should be “maintenance staff friendly” since it is they who are the implementers and users of the technologies.

Ax Legal: Are there other areas in the maintenance industry that you see interesting technology for? Or new ways of doing things? Can you give us some examples?

Luis: I think that the best example in the way of working with maintenance focused on reliability is the aeronautical industry. In my early days, I got to know this industry very well.

Example: the structure used for the execution of preventive maintenance, where the main input for the execution is the administration of the backlog in each of the inspections carried out prior to each schedule.

Ax Legal is a legal and business advisory firm that works with foreign companies in Latin America. Our team of legal and commercial advisors have a distinguished track record of helping foreign technology and services companies to grow and operate in Latin America. Over the years, we have worked with starts up, mid-size businesses, and publicly listed companies. The one common factor that connects are clients is that they are leaders in their field, providing innovative technologies and services to the industrial sectors.

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