Planta Mecánica: Giant with inextinguishable flame
By José Antonio Fulgueiras, Photos: Julio Valdés
The company Planta Mecánica Fabric Aguilar Noriega, on the outskirts of the central Cuban city of Santa Clara, defies life with 56 years of existence as a giant of steel and steel bars, which raises a productive flame, impossible to extinguish.
Founded on May 3, 1964 by the Argentine-Cuban commander Ernesto Che Guevara, then Minister of Industry of the incipient Cuban Revolution, the unit, built mainly by engineers and technicians of the former Soviet Union, from the beginning set its sight on the national market as the largest and most important factory in the production of machinery and spare parts.
In this industry, built in an area of 16,000 square meters, all the basic metal-mechanical processes have been integrated since its foundation, such as iron and steel casting, heavy and light machining, ironwork and welding, as well as other support technologies for the manufacture of tools and devices, thermal treatment, mechanical testing, equipment designs, aggregates and parts.
This factory of factories, as it is also known, has faced, without stopping its production, the most difficult periods in the construction of the socialist state of Cuba, an island affected for more than 60 years by the economic blockade of the United States, with periods of severe lack of materials such as the socalled Special Period, with its most severe effects in 1991-1993, and the onslaught of the current covid-19 pandemic.
“We have never stopped and we are never going to stop,” says engineer Idael Cristóbal Hidalgo Cruz, director of the industry, with an emphatic tone, enhanced by a mestizo face that evokes the triumphant momentum of his native and African ancestors. Hidalgo Cruz takes us through the factory workshops, accompanied by Leiry Cespón Mustelier, director of Engineering, Development, Exports and Quality, while assuring us that the industry he directs has the license and capacity to export and is on the way to restarting it towards a principal market in the Latin American area, to countries such as Mexico, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic, who have high demand for pieces for the sugar industry.
“In this region we have a market of more than 400 sugar mills, and we are able to offer them crowns, mill couplings, scrapers, side boxes, hammer supports, sprockets, shafts, blade arms and other accessories of different types, whose production quality we will be able to improve as soon as the investment and modernization process of the productive areas is completed”, comments Hidalgo Cruz and continues the tour. For now, the over 390 workers who work here today are working on the development of other components for the domestic market for the manufacture of construction materials, low-carbon minicement plants and clients from metallurgical, mining, chemical, hydraulic, land and rail transport companies, among others. The director has found his experience in this factory to be positive. “I have the possibility of working on various market products, and participating in the creation and development of others; and I also have a group of dedicated workers and a close relationship with the Universidad Central Marta Abreu de Las Villas and other scientific institutions”, he adds. Crossing through the foundry workshop, we arrive at the area of the new investment. The engineer Leiry Cespón clarifies that this equipment is part of the investment process that is being carried out in the company, the majority with resources from Russia and China, which should be finished by the end of 2021, and points towards the new molding line that is being installed :
“This new technology allows us to obtain a higher quality cast piece that will allow us to insert ourselves into sectors that we currently don’t enter, increase our production capacity with the consequent saving of electricity and other carriers”, adds the engineer with a sense of belonging gained from his over 20 years of work in different productive positions.
The director Hidalgo Cruz also explains the investment process carried out in the welding workshops, showing the balancing machine, rolling machine, pantograph and the welding column that were installed in 2019, while waiting for the arrival of other equipment such as a sandblasting chamber and folding machine.
He stressed that most of these products produced and distributed by the Planta Mecánica substitute imports for the country and assured that, in the midst of the new coronavirus pandemic, they will not give up on completing the technical economic plan for 2020, reaching 18.3 million pesos.
In this factory in 1964, Commander Ernesto Che Guevara, who fell three years later in combat in a Bolivian internationalist guerrilla movement, symbolically lit the torch of the Technical Revolution, and the flame is still alive today from a cauldron of constancy, honour and sacrifice.
Products - Containers for storing fuel - 1 000 m3 vertical tank - Oil pumping stations - Calender for Jamaica - Hoppers and ball mill for the building materials industry - Discharge pipe for MINDI dredge - Satellites for the cement industry (Panama Canal) - Screw and crown conveyors for the nickel industry - Bearings, crowns and others - Central blades, side boxes and mallets for sugar mills - Drum for the cement industry - Gear cutting - Gates for the Caruachi hydroelectric plant in Venezuela - Hydraulic turbines, national production and exports - Conduits
Contact: Calle A No.39 e/ Arroyo Carrascal y carretera Planta Mecánica, Zona Industrial Noroeste, Santa Clara, Villa Clara, Cuba. PHONE: +53 4229-1805 +53 4229-1889 EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com