INTERVIEW WITH JOSÉ DÍAZ, MANAGER OF PROCESADORA DE ARCILLA
Procesadora de Arcilla (PROCARSA), located in La Chorrera, Barrio Colón, is the reference company in Panama for the manufacture of all types of bricks and tiles. As part of the group Productos Maribel, along with four other companies, it was founded in 2000 and currently has 95 employees in the plant, in addition to 10 administrative staff in its offices.
The company is structured around two production lines, with a production volume of about 300 tons/day, representing an annual production capacity of 80,000 – 95,000 tons of ceramic products.
José Díaz, Manager and Process Technician since the founding of the company, has given more than 20 years of service to the group. He gives us his impressions about his company and the Panamanian market.
1º) Could you tell us what your main products are and the most important projects you have participated in?
J.D: At Procesadora de Arcilla, we adjust to the basic needs according to the designs of the works we operate in. For this reason, we have an extensive variety of construction products, such as vertical hollow bricks, tongue and groove blocks, facing bricks, conical and type “S” tiles, all of which are manufactured under the COPANIT standard (Panamanian Commission for Industrial Standards and Techniques).
In terms of our activity, throughout our 17 years of existence, we have had the opportunity of participating in many very interesting projects; but without a doubt, the one we are most proud of, because of its meaning, is the Panama National Contest for Clean Production, in which we were ranked first.
2º) What products and trends do you think will be seen in the near future in Panama? And what expectations are there for the next few years after the Canal expansion?
J.D: The truth is that competition in Panama is very strong and innovative. From what we are seeing, we believe that products such as light foam panels and metal mesh panels for walls and partitions, among others, will predominate in Panamanian construction.
It is clear that following the opening of the Panama Canal expansion, new investors are bound to emerge in our country. Importantly, we also believe there will be an increase in the construction of social type houses, which we consider as one of the most dynamic activities in recent years.
3º) Do you plan to develop new products in the future?
J.D: At Procesadora de Arcilla, we are always open to the development of new products. The decision is taken under a preliminary analysis, where logic and common sense are the main parameters we take into account.
Specifically, in the near future, we are looking to implement new product lines, such as paving stones, ceramic veneers, various tile designs, large formats and floors, among others.
4º) In a growing and competitive market such as yours, what investments have you made in recent years and why?
J.D: In Panama, we are in strong competition with other products, such as sand and concrete blocks which, although they do not have the same attributes, quality or strength than our ceramic products, corner part of the market in the commercial area.
Because of this, we identified the need to modify the design of our bricks in order to offer our customers substantial savings, both in the total operation of the facilities and up to 25% on materials.
Precisely, to be even more competitive, in 2013 we decided to go one step further and invest in European technology, and we chose MORTE as a trusted partner.
Our decision was to select the two most produced products, the 10×22,5×45 and 15×22,5×45 tongue and groove blocks, and acquire two TM-EF Dies with four casings, the last with inner steel and external brakes.
5º) Can you briefly describe how that process came about?
J.D: MORTE proposed us the manufacture of the dies for tongue and groove blocks, initially in treated steel to test that the dies worked correctly with this material. After analysing the results, we were able to verify that all the parameters were right, that we had an excellent brick design for our market. Soon we witnessed that we were working with a high quality product.
Then, we began to work together with MORTE for the manufacture of these dies with its elements more exposed to wear, cores and frames, by using a material more resistant to wear, tungsten carbide MOR-05, that we know as Widia.
This change went smoothly, without needing the visit to our plant of any MORTE specialist and without having to stop plant production.
6º) From your point of view, what value do you give to the die within your production process? And to what extent do you think you can improve the profitability of your products?
J.D: A die properly manufactured for the extrusion process, that is to say, designed to adapt to the types of clay we use in our production process and to the models and features of the machinery used for extruding. It means that we can reduce production costs and increase production capacity; thus improving the cost-benefit ratio and profitability.
MORTE Dies due to its practical adjustment system with external brakes gives us better control of the bricks to extrude; thus guaranteeing a final product of great quality, correct between 95-97%. In addition, breakdowns for die adjustments have been eliminated; as beforehand we worked with simple dies whose configuration required adjustment via internal brakes.
As a result, we have experienced significant savings in labour and in the inputs needed to maintain the dies; all of which has reflected very positively on a substantial increase in daily productivity.
I must admit that thanks to the decision we made we have been able to be much more efficient and productive.
7º) After almost 4 years working with MORTE dies, how would you describe your experience with this company’s products? What do you think about the durability and abrasion resistance of the aforementioned MOR-05 Widia?
J.D: Based on the results obtained in the final products, I must declare MORTE Dies are full of benefits since for processing clays they provide greater safety, fluidity, control and texture to the products we extrude. Its quality, durability and handling are excellent.
Regarding MOR-05 Widia, I must admit that we have never used a material more suitable for extrusion in our plant than this. Its abrasion resistance and the fluidity of the clay on this material are excellent. We calculate that we make at least 40,000 tons of bricks without having to make any type of change on the elements of the die. This factor has a direct impact on a lower manufacturing cost per brick.
Therefore, we are currently using MORTE MOR-05 Widia as the main material for the manufacture of the spare parts of our dies.