Scott Bedell, President,
“Companies are asking for more return from past automation investments and additional, relevant data for decision-making.”
Can you introduce Caltrol and the importance of the mining sector for the company’s activities?
Caltrol is an automation company that was founded in 1934. We operate on the west coast and have offices in California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii. We provide control systems, valves and instrumentation, reliability programs, software, and multiple engineering and technical services to optimize our customers’ operations.
Mining is one of the largest industries we work in, as we have served clients in the industry for over 88 years. The sector represents around 40% of our activity in Arizona. Our experience in this industry has allowed us to build mining-specific applications and solutions to help our customers. Many of the mines in Arizona have dated control systems that we are modernizing with additional capabilities. We also provide packaged solutions, where customers apply our mining solutions such as our leach pad monitoring skids and moly roaster burner optimization. Our clients’ sustainability goals drive demand for our solutions and services, and we closely follow the mining industry’s needs for the EV transition. We are currently in conversations with Lithium Americas and their project in Nevada, the team working on the Hell’s Kitchen project in the Salton Sea, and a few others.
To what extent are mining companies in Arizona and Nevada adopting automation as part of their processes?
Automation is increasingly becoming more important to operating mines. Companies are asking for more return from past automation investments and additional, relevant data for decision-making. There has been a transition over the last decade to utilizing preventive technology to detect potential failures before they occur, minimizing maintenance costs and downtime. Advanced Process Control is another area where mines could realize major operational improvements and we are starting to see more interest in this area.
Remote mining and autonomous mining are becoming increasingly important. There are efficiency and safety gains from doing this, as well as an opportunity to gain real-time data. This has led to an afflux of data into the cloud and we are in discussions with several of our clients about how to best manage and utilize it. In many cases, what started as a pre-emption to predict failure has left us with data we can now use for optimizing plant operations and reducing emissions.
How does Caltrol’s specific relationship with Emerson impact product distribution?
Caltrol, and the other members of the Impact Partner Network, sell, service, support, and provide the industry expertise and application engineering for the Emerson portfolio. The members of the Impact Partner Network share resources, inventory, industry knowledge, and best practices.
What are the main trends that will continue to drive growth for Caltrol in the Southwest US?
One of the trends is modernizing existing automation infrastructure and leveraging OT Data in the cloud. Our activity and the conversations we are currently having with our customers in this area is at an all-time high and we expect this to continue to increase. Another trend is that customers are looking for more industry-specific solutions and service support. Without referring to sustainability as a trend, the focus in this area has increased drastically in the industries we serve and we definitely do not see that going away. We are uniquely positioned with our products, services, solutions, and engineering expertise to expedite our customers’ environmental goals.
The West Coast is leading the country in innovation around the energy transition, the transition to electric vehicles, and other alternative processes, such as organic plastics. We are partnering with these leading companies to help automate their innovations. Caltrol has participated in nine green diesel conversion projects, and we worked with SoCal Gas on their Hydrogen Home of the Future. We are helping our long-time customers in traditional industries with their ESG journey and environmental goals by providing point solutions that reduce or eliminate emissions or water usage.
Do you have a final message for GBR’s audience?
There is a growing need for lithium and copper in the rush towards the energy transition, and the abundance of it in Arizona and Nevada is promising. To achieve better results towards the community, we need to change the perception of the mining industry. So far there has been a lot of work done to publicize the need for essential metals for EVs and the importance of domestic mining, but more is needed to highlight what is being done to modernize industry processes. We believe we can help change the narrative.