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Carlos Arteaga: "50% of Hidroconta's projects are outside Spain"

  • Carlos Arteaga: "50% of Hidroconta's projects are outside Spain"
    Carlos Arteaga Sánchez, Project Manager at Hidroconta. Credit: Pablo González-Cebrián
  • During our visit to the offices of Hidroconta, we also spoke with Jesús Caballero Marín, Director of Quality, and Ana Valverde, Export Manager. 

About the entity

Hidroconta is a water-meter, hydraulic valves and remote control systems manufacturer and a water management services provider that operates worldwide.

Hidroconta is a family business founded over thirty years ago that relies on a team of people the company is proud of. They are passionate about their work and that gets transmitted to their clients.

To get to know better the people that are part of the large Hidroconta family we will speak with different professional profiles in the company, to learn how the different departments work and the reasons why talent and enthusiasm are key to the success of Hidroconta. Today is the turn of Carlos Arteaga Sánchez, Project Manager, who talks to us about the company's current projects, as well as its modus operandi when it comes to implementing those projects. 

Question: What is your role as Project Manager in the company?

AnswerI am in charge of coordinating the work of the different departments to ensure the projects are successfully carried out. That entails interacting with many players, both internal and external to Hidroconta. And, of course, always with the aim of enabling project implementation as intended and on schedule.

Q: What is the percentage of projects you have in your home country (Spain) vs. other countries?

A: Approximately 50% of the projects are done in Spain, where nowadays there are quite a few projects involving telemetry and residential water meters. We have important presence in the south-east of Spain since we are from that area, but we work in the entire country and so things are changing. A large number of new projects are coming up in the centre and north of the Iberian Peninsula (regions of Madrid and Castile and Leon).

On the other hand, another 50% of the projects are carried out abroad, with Morocco being quite important, since they have been making huge efforts to modernise irrigated agriculture in the past few years. We have also undertaken one-off projects in other regions such as the Middle East or Southeast Asia. In relation to the latest trends in telemetry, we are seeing many opportunities in Mexico and South America that I hope to see them turning into projects in the near future.

Q: How many projects is Hidroconta currently involved in?

A: We currently have some 15 projects in progress, and many more at the study stage or with a firm offer already submitted. The assortment of projects represents very well Hidroconta's flexibility and adaptive capacity, since they involve the irrigation sector, water for human consumption, and smart irrigation for gardens. Furthermore, they are scattered throughout Spain and also in some other countries.

Concerning irrigation, we are working on modernising the systems used by the Montijo Irrigation Association, located in the province of Badajoz (Spain), where both hydraulic and remote control equipment has been supplied by Hidroconta. At the same time, we are working on the second phase that expands a project involving remote control of water withdrawal in Jadco Co., in the province of Al Jouf, in Saudi Arabia. A diversity of telemetry projects are under study using a more economical approach, thanks to the development and specialisation of the IRIS device and IoT communications technologies.

We currently have some 15 projects in progress, and many more at the study stage or with a firm offer already submitted

Concerning urban water, after completing the telemetry project in the Montealina housing development (Pozuelo de Alarcón, province of Madrid), we have embarked upon a smaller size project, but more diverse in scope, in the Los Teatinos housing development (province of Murcia). In addition to implementing a telemetry system in the domestic connections to the water network, we have put into service 5 monitoring points in the network, to obtain water consumption and flow rate readings, as well as data on the water level in the storage tank. This information is crucial to manage the network and used to be gathered visually.

Concerning smart irrigation in gardens, after implementing a distributed irrigation scheduling system using wireless communications in the Army Artillery facilities in Murcia, we are working on additional actions to improve the information about the condition of the gardens and enhance irrigation efficiency even further. The system will be fitted with soil moisture sensors and rain sensors to adjust irrigation to plant needs.

Q: Of all the projects carried out by your company, which ones are you especially proud of?

A: We are especially proud of those projects where we can contribute our expertise in more areas: from collaborating in the design of the distribution network, to implementing telemetry and/or remote control systems, including the installation of different hydraulic equipment.

Although it is hard to choose, an example could be the remote control project in the Huerta Alta irrigated area, in Pliego, Murcia. Worth noting are the scope of the project and its technical complexity, with an almost exclusive design of a device to meet the project needs in an economical and rational manner. It entailed implementing a mixed GRPS-Radio communications system that includes redundancy and is enabling farmers with microplots of land to manage their crops in a modern and advanced way. At the same time, the managers of the irrigation association can manage the system more efficiently.

Q: What aspects do you take into account when it comes to accepting or rejecting a project?

A: We consider whether the client's needs are aligned with our company's values and vision for the future: more efficient water resource management through the development and application of the most appropriate technology, fully focused on the water sector.

These needs usually involve reducing the consumption of water resources, something that may require, depending on the optimisation stage the client has reached, from modernising the irrigation system, to implementing telemetry systems and enable a more comprehensive control of the demand and how it is distributed over time. Also, we cannot forget the use of sensors in every part of the network: withdrawal, regulation reservoirs and tanks, distribution and user connections.

Another important need is the optimisation of energy resources, something that again can be addressed with different approaches. With the implementation of sensors, it is possible to decide the scheduling of pump operations, and the optimum tank level to meet the needs of network users.

In our projects we consider whether the client's needs are aligned with our company's values and vision for the future

And obviously, with these actions not only does the network manager attain financial gains, but also there are environmental benefits as a result of reducing the amount of water and energy resources used.

Q: How does Hidroconta approach a project after deciding to undertake it?

A: We start a process of communication with the client, gathering feedback, with the involvement of our expert staff from different disciplines, collecting all the information needed, making detailed adjustments and planning the development of the project. The process usually starts with a meeting with those involved in the project (owners, project managers, engineers) to get to know each other and discuss the project's most sensitive issues.

Afterwards, I usually rely on my specialised colleagues from each department to address in detail any technical aspects, confirm plans and ensure there are no loose ends before we start. Based on the characteristics of the project, it may require more participation by staff from the electronics department, from the laboratory where we test the meters, or staff specialised in hydraulic valves.

Once the project has started, we monitor closely the progress through the different phases and compliance with technical requirements. To do this, it is important to have reliable suppliers, whether from Spain or from abroad, depending on the components and equipment used.

Once the project has started, we monitor closely the progress through the different phases and compliance with technical requirements

It is also very important to have the qualified staff necessary for the project. Nowadays, any project participants need to have a high degree of specialisation: from the designers (electronics experts, computing experts, industrial designers, etc.) to those in charge of installing the equipment, everyone has to know the devices in detail.

Furthermore, projects require a lot of flexibility: modifications may be needed, or flaws could appear that require adopting new solutions or changing the scope of existing ones, resulting in changes in deadlines or in the resources required. I think this is one of Hidroconta's most important added values: its size allows it to be flexible and have a customer service that other competitors do not offer, while it has the expertise and solvency to carry out projects with a high degree of client satisfaction.

Q: To what extent are clients satisfied after the project is completed?

A: I think clients should answer that question themselves, but we believe they are very satisfied, since projects usually lead to a long-lasting relationship with most of our clients. Usually, they are the first step in a long-term relationship where they request more services from us.

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