Whether it be the mining and metals industries or the oil and gas sector, working in the field can be a challenging and complicated process – a process that requires thousands of man-hours just to get a plant up and running. Operators understandably want to take as much of that complication off of their workers’ hands so that they can focus on the important job of getting resources out of the ground. For over a decade now, some of the biggest names in the industry have partnered with Reliable Controls Corp. to achieve their goals.
“Our engineers and technicians have extensive hands-on experience and have a ‘no-nonsense’ attitude towards work and know mining project requirements both in the process side and the conditions working in remote location,” says founder, President and CEO Ed Macha. “We have executed multiple mega projects worldwide with a safety mindset, quality oriented and a ‘can-do’ attitude which our clients recognize and value.”
Macha, who was born and raised in a small mining town in Peru, grew up knowing mining as an all-encompassing way of life. His father, uncle and everyone else in the town worked in association with the mine. With mining in his blood, it wasn’t a surprise when Macha also decided to formally enter the mining industry as an electrical engineer.
After graduating from New Mexico State University, he found employment in Salt Lake City working for an engineering firm doing industrial automation. Immediately following that, he began work for an international company and worked specifically doing plant commissioning in the mining sector. With the experience Macha gained in automation and commissioning, he believed he could establish his own company built around them.
“I had a good background, I knew what I was talking about,” he says. “I had been exposed, from the beginning, to industrial automation and I had the opportunity to work in mega-projects, multibillion-dollar projects, and be responsible for key functions during the commissioning phase of these projects at a very young age. That gave me the confidence to say, ‘Yes, I can do this,’ and that’s why I started Reliable Controls.” With the help of his father as a silent partner and his younger brother, Macha officially launched Reliable Controls in 1999.
The company quickly established a good reputation among big-name customers in the mining and gas and oil industries. However, it wasn’t until the arrival of Vice President of Finance Nikki Butler in 2005 that Reliable Controls really began to take shape. According to Macha, Butler’s experience managing a facility for GE Capital made her the perfect candidate to take over the business operations of Reliable Controls. Upon Butler’s introduction into the company, she assumed responsibility of all the business and financial logistics of running a company including administration, taxes, financing, infrastructure, etc. With Butler’s management of the business, Macha was able to again focus on his passion for hands on project work and grow the business within the heavy industry sector. With Macha and Butler in their roles, the fledgling company grew and began doing more work worldwide and developing a bigger footprint.
Today, Reliable Controls provides complete automation and commissioning for plants within the mining, gas and oil sectors. No matter what form its service takes, Macha says Reliable Controls’ greatest advantage is the experience and expertise it provides. “Our focus is on automation and commissioning,” he says. “One of the things we know very well is the processes. We are very experienced at understanding this. We’ve worked in a lot of mines and gas facilities so we understand the process systems. We know how the chemistry works, we know the metallurgy, we know what it takes to recover metals from rock, etc. We know the process therefore we are very competent in designing a control system and instrumentation that meets the need. Our experience and expertise allows us to build the brains around a system and commission a plant.”
According to Macha, “There are many phases that are involved in getting a plant up and running. There is the feasibility study, basic engineering, construction, commissioning and finally, operation. That gap between construction and operation is us.”
One of the company’s greatest value propositions for its clients is rooted in that experience. With the amount of experience Reliable Controls has, plant assessment and optimization is a major component of its suite of services. Reliable Controls has the ability to conduct on-site research at a plant, determine specific areas that may be in need of an upgrade and then develop an effective plan to address those areas.
“Right now the mining industry is a little depressed so the opportunity is in helping our clients with optimizing their processes whether it’s increased recovery or throughput. We can do this by doing as-built assessments, re-commissioning systems, or optimizing their existing automation and instrumentation infrastructure,” Macha says.
Macha and Butler say one of the biggest challenges facing Reliable Controls today is finding the right people to continue the company’s growth trend. One of the most difficult things about recruiting talented people to work in the industry is that the type of field work Reliable Controls does require people to stay away from home for extended periods of time. Additionally, few young people today consider the heavy industry sector when they leave school.
Reliable Controls is working closely with the University of Utah on an internship program designed to help young people learn about the opportunities available in the industry. Macha says that by mentoring young people and helping them develop the skills and the passionate mindset they need to be successful in the heavy industry, Reliable Controls is working to preserve the success of the company, and the industry as a whole, for years to come.
Today, Reliable Controls is focusing on doing what it does best: automation and commissioning for its clients. “Currently 99 percent of our business is continued work with existing clients and word-of-mouth,” Macha says.
Macha says the company is focusing on attending industry expos and other events to demonstrate the value Reliable Controls can provide. “There is a lot of opportunity and growth out there and we’re excited to expand and be a part of it,” Butler says.