More than 380 mining SMEs have benefited from the “Strengthen SME” (Fortalece PyME) program

In the Antofagasta Region, this work is carried out by the AIA Technological Extension Center, whose task is to provide tools to small businesses to improve their productivity through technological absorption, tools for continuous improvement and digitalization.

It is expected that in March new calls will be opened to apply for the program.

More than 380 mining SMEs in the Antofagasta Region have been supported since 2016 by the Center for Technological Extension for Mining Suppliers (CET) of the Association of Industrialists of Antofagasta (AIA), through “Strengthen SME’s” (Fortalece PyME), co-funded program by Corfo, which aims to improve the productivity of SMEs through technological absorption, tools for continuous improvement and digitalization, to make them more competitive.

In Antofagasta, this work is carried out through technical assistance services executed directly by the CET work team, composed of four civil engineers with extensive experience in the mining value chain, and counting among its associates to the Chilean Chamber- German Commerce and Industry (CAMCHAL); UCN; the University of Antofagasta (UA); Chile Foundation; AMTC of the University of Chile; and the Bayern State Representation for South America.

In this interview, Patricio Lazcano, executive director of the center, tells us more details about this program, which is expected to open new calls in March.

Who participates in the “Strengthen SME” (Fortalece PyME) project?
Strengthening SMEs is the continuation of a project called Extension Centers initiated in March 2016 until December 2018, and has favored thousands of SMEs in the country. This continuity project is until May 2020. The sectors of the industry in which it is being executed are suppliers of Mining, Construction, Wood Manufacturing, Tourism, Metalworking, Winemaking, Horticultural, Processed Food, Mitiliculture and Logistics.

For the Antofagasta Region, since the beginning of the CIA of the AIA to date, we have intervened more than 380 companies, distributed in the communes of Antofagasta, Mejillones, Tocopilla, Taltal, María Elena and Calama, being Antofagasta the one that concentrates the most attention. As a result of this intervention, companies show productivity increase values ​​close to 30% in decrease in operational times; 24% decrease in delivery times; and 19% in cost reduction and control.

The beneficiary companies must be companies with headquarters or branches in the Antofagasta Region, with annual sales between MM $ 100 and MM $ 3,500, whose main items are related to the following industrial subsectors: Industrial Supply, Industrial Maintenance, Industrial Repair, Industrial Assembly, Manufacturing Pieces / Metal Pieces / Non-Metallic and Engineering Services.

How can you participate in the project?
Companies that meet the aforementioned requirements can contact us directly or executives from other AIA units. Depending on the size and requirements of each company, the services may be free or have some cost, which is evaluated in the diagnostic stage, which is completely free. It is an open system and if the extension centers are within the deadlines they can meet. Calls at the national level are held by Corfo, and it has informed that in March 2020, new applications will be called for CETs throughout the country.

What stage are you in and what are your plans for the future?
In our case, the plans are to continue expanding the coverage of attention to all mining supplier companies in the Antofagasta Region, for which we will continue to apply for Corfo funds, and we hope to generate important alliances with the main players in the mining industry, in order to generate the sustainability and transformation that is required over time.

What does it mean for you to develop this project under the wings of Alta Ley?
In the context of the Alta Ley Roadmap, in which one of the enabling nuclei to respond to the challenges of the Mining Industry is to have highly trained suppliers, the presence of the CET and the joint work with the guidelines of this important organization allow us to be closely linked to the needs and how SMEs can adapt to the technological changes that this industry is experiencing.

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