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The metals and mining industry


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“The MMM market is probably the most underestimated
and misunderstood market in the United States,” Greg Magdanz, Director of Schneider Electric’s U.S. Mining, Met -
als, and Minerals Segment (

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The metals and mining industry

  2. 2. 50 the ELECTRICAL DISTRIBUTOR • Feb. 15 selling ►ABB offers new online tool ABB has developed an enclosed starter product configurator for low-voltage applications. The tool enables specifiers to source and configure ABB enclosed starters more efficiently and guides specifiers through a few easy steps to configure made-to-order enclosed starters. Find it at ►Hubbell Lighting awarded Hubbell Lighting’s Architectural Area Lighting KicK and Beacon Products’s Ceileo have been recognized as “2014 Record Products” by Architectural Record magazine. ►IDEAL connectors awarded IDEAL Industries’s Wire-Nut 73B wire connector line has received the UL2043 Air Handling Safety Rating, which en- ables their use on Class 2 or low-voltage connections inside plenums, ducts, and other spaces used for environmental air handling without enclosing the connec- tion within an electrical box. ►Klein Tools earns awards Klein Tools was recently named as a preferred brand in a Tools of the Trade 2014 survey of 731 tradespeople. Out of six common tools, Klein was the pre- ferred brand for two screwdrivers and lineman’s pliers. The company was also named “Best Hand Tool Brand” for 2014 by Tools in Action readers and editors. ►MaxLite earns placement MaxLite’s LED Puck Lamp is the indus- try’s first GU24-base light source rated for use in fully enclosed luminaires to earn placement on the Energy Star- Certified Subcomponent Database. INDUSTRY NEWS For up-to-date industry news and information, go to The metals and mining industry #$$#$ # $!$ !$!$##$ #$#$!$!# $$! #$#$$$#$ !$# $!#$!$!$!$$ # !$!# !$!$!$#!#$$#$!$ !#!#$!# $#$$# $ #$!$##$#$ #$$! ##$ $ #$ #$!$!$ #!$ #$# $# #$$!$##$ $!#$ # ##
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  5. 5. $ Though Greg Magdanz, director of Schneider Electric’s U.S. Mining, Met- als, and Minerals Segment (schneider- believes that most distribu- tors likely have several metals, mining, and minerals (MMM) customers in their geographic market, “The MMM market is probably the most underestimated and misunderstood market in the United States,” he said. “Contrary to popular belief, the in- dustry isn’t just about steel mills and underground mines, but also includes cement plants, aggregate, gypsum, glass, sand, and other commodity mar- kets that are in constant demand,” he explained. “These raw materials support the manufacture of everything from automotive steel to toothpaste, and these commodities are also the key ingredients behind such other markets as oil and gas (e.g., pipes and sand), construction (cement and glass), auto- motive (steel and iron ore), and global energy demand (coal).” According to Mark Nowak, market development manager at Thomas Betts (, “It’s costly when equip- ment is down, so mine operators are always looking for products that can help their electrical systems last longer and be more efficient; as a result, sus- tainability, safety, reliability, and pro- ductivity are all key drivers in this mar- ket. In open-pit mining and smelting, corrosion protection systems and prod- ucts are also important.” Magdanz agreed. “Downtime can cost MMM customers millions of dol- lars, both in production losses and in environmental impacts and fines,” he said. “These customers are looking for ways to reduce their energy costs as well as improve safety and production effi- ciencies, so manufacturers and distribu- tors that can help them by providing technical expertise, quick response times, and value-added solutions to meet these critical needs will be more in demand than a parts supplier.” Additionally, based on the industry’s harsh operating environments that drastically shorten the life of most elec- trical equipment, Magdanz said that MMM customers look to distributors that possess strong customer service and inventory management capabilities. David Durocher, global industry manager for mining, metals, and miner- als at Eaton (, said that de- clining ore grades are putting pressure on every aspect of mining operations today and are resulting in a greater need for owners, operators, and management teams to closely manage capital and improve cost per ton. “This is driving decisions to optimize at the facility level,” he said. Additionally, Durocher noted that there’s a greater focus on safety and environmental impact than ever before. “The Mine Safety and Health Adminis- tration is looking more closely at injuries and advancing compliance with electri- cal safety standards such as the National Fire Protection Association’s 70E stan- dard for electrical safety in the work- place,” he said. “We’re also seeing a shift from capital expenditures to opera- tional expenditures, which pushes mine
  6. 6. 52 the ELECTRICAL DISTRIBUTOR • Feb. 15 selling operators and their distributors and manufacturers toward a facility-based focus to optimize existing production. And among large facilities, there’s also a trend toward establishing MRO agree- ments with a single distributor for all electrical equipment and support.” PRODUCTS IN PRACTICE Magdanz noted that in a market defined by skill shortages, safety measures, reg- ulations, water shortages, energy vari- ability, and other market uncertainties, “MMM companies are relying more on technologies that require less human interaction and enable greater visibility and control of their overall operations.” Nowak agreed. “The metals and min- ing market is an attractive one for dis- tributors and manufacturers,” he said. “Although an increasing number of supervisory control and data acquisition systems are being replaced, updated, or both, not that much is new inside the mines and they’re still using the same heavy-duty NEMA motors, starters, drives, etc. In these harsh operating en- vironments, keeping dust out of equip- ment is crucial, which leads to higher NEMA ratings on enclosures, and light- ing is a necessity in underground opera- tions along with a multitude of safety products, as hazardous elements play a key part in underground mines.” Borchers added that many sites are looking to optimize their existing facilities, so solutions that improve cost, energy efficiency, and reliability are critical. “LED lighting solutions applied in harsh and hazardous environments save energy, dramatically reduce operating costs, and, more importantly, last longer than other luminaire technologies, de- livering the lowest cost-per-life-cycle lighting alternative in mining applica- tions,” said Borchers. “As sites are often faced with hard-to-access locations, LED lighting helps maintenance and operations personnel avoid the risk of injury on ladders and in truck booms, a common issue experienced during fre- quent changeouts of halogen and other traditional luminaires.” Additionally, medium- and low- voltage adjustable-frequency drives are helping mine operators better con- trol processes while realizing energy savings from 10% to 50% by provid- ing precise control for variable-speed applications. With improvements to the reliability of existing operations becoming crucial as facilities seek to optimize production, products like online partial discharge relays offer predictive diagnostics for more effective maintenance, provid- ing operators with advance warning of insulation failure for switchgear, transformers, motors, and generators. And in support of improved work- place safety within mining applications, “Arc-resistant switchgear has been engineered to enhance operator safety and protect personnel from dangerous arcing faults by redirecting or channel- ing the arc energy out the top of the gear,” Durocher said. TIPS FOR THE TRADE Magdanz believes that distributors need to thoroughly understand MMM cus- tomers’ processes and operations if they target this market. “For example, miners like to talk to people who are knowledgeable about the mining process, and the same holds true for workers in the steel, cement, aggregate, and glass industries,” he said. He advises distributors to provide quick service and solutions that help overall operations meet their key performance indicators and improve production while reducing costs. Nowak agreed that specialized prod- uct and industry knowledge are key to a distributor’s success in this field. “Each mine is different and each one’s needs are therefore different,” said Nowak. “Successful distributors in MMM are the ones that are devoted to this market, from the standpoint of both sales support and the inventory to back it up. They also benefit from aligning themselves with manufacturers that tar- get the MMM market.” “Challenges in the MMM market include supporting remote locations and harsh environments with just-in-time service. But the rewards will be loyalty to those who provide the best service and support,” Magdanz concluded. ■
  7. 7. Summit Electric Supply, Albuquerque, N.M., has served the metals and mining market in Arizona and New Mexico since its inception, explained Brian Curtis, an automation engineer at the 37-year-old distributor. Summit operates 27 service centers in five states (Arizona, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas) and services the mining industry through the efforts of Summit’s Automation Group, which includes key members Jack Escobar, customer service representative, and Jeff Norris, automation manager. Based on Curtis’s more than 20 years of experience sup- porting the mining industry, “The key drivers for this sector are service, support, and cutting-edge product technology that is focused on the delivery of robust design for sustainability and reliability,” he said. “Mining customers are looking for a distribu- tor that can support them through the design phase, product selection, procurement of equipment, implementation, commis- sioning, and maintenance of products and systems.” According to Curtis, “The challenges of working with these customers include the location (which is generally very remote), the 24/7/365 environment, and the planning and safety re- quirements. The rewards, however, are great relationships and loyalty that benefit both the distributor and customer and the great feeling of achieving success.” —S.B.