LIMA, SEPTEMBER 17 2021 "Achilles is working on adopting new technologies to create faster, more robust and more secure validation processes"

Nicolas Avellaneda, Regional Director of Latam at Achilles, shares his vision regarding the market, trends and main challenges for the future, topics that will also be addressed in the conference that will be held as sponsors of Heading to PERUMIN 35.

What are Achilles' plans for the coming months of this year?

From a market development point of view, we have been very successful. We are well positioned in the mining countries of the Andean region such as Chile and Peru, where we are strategic partners in supply management for companies such as Pan American Silver, Cerro Verde, Yamana Gold and Antamina, among others.

We are now aiming to further expand our services in Mexican. Since last year we started our operations with Pan American Silver in Mexico, to complement the work carried out in Guatemala and Bolivia.

We have been working with a world-renowned company, Pemex, in the oil and gas sector for more than 6 years, and thanks to all the experience we have acquired, our great commitment is to establish our community of suppliers and buyers for the Regic mining sector in Mexico. As I mentioned previously, we are already doing it with Pan American Silver and with other clients that are operating in that region.

Furthermore, at a global level at Achilles, we are developing a new platform that we hope to share more news about very soon and which includes the mapping and positioning of all the communities we work with in Latin America. Our mining community is one of the most important, so we will focus on working closely with our clients for its implementation. It is a unique tool in the market and we are sure it will bring multiple benefits for buyers and suppliers.

Another important issue, regarding what was mentioned above about our expansion in Mexico, is that what we really seek is to create opportunities for the Peruvian, Chilean, Guatemalan supplier, etc. on a regional scale. By working together with new mining companies in Mexico, we hope to be the platform that allows greater visibility for suppliers that are part of the Achilles communities, to be a strategic partner that effectively helps them to generate new business opportunities beyond their geographical boundaries.

Achilles has received a significant investment from Bridgepoint Capital which in turn positions us to consolidate our business throughout the region. We have demonstrated to the market our ability to execute our plans, sustain growth, and we will do so even more with new investors.

How has the company been developing its activities in the context of COVID-19?

I would like to cover this question from two angles. I have been working at Achilles for 15 years and since I joined we began implementing remote work policies, our technological structure was always prepared for the switch to virtuality, so, although it was challenging, it was not a surprise for us to move to an online working model.

Considering the relationship with our customers and the market, the pandemic definitely accelerated some processes. We have had an increase in activities, events and interaction with our clients like never before. I think there was a barrier and COVID-19 made us see that it was just mental, that it was not necessary to move physically to have an efficient and profitable meeting with a client, that we could implement a project successfully without having to take a plane. It also led us to take a step forward, to work much more results-oriented, to measure our teams and the work they do with concrete data, rather than perceptions.

The situation we are experiencing created a demand for specific services from our clients, since it exposed the weak links in the supply chain. We had to work closely and urgently on supplier evaluation, to identify, for example, suppliers that could not meet certain requirements. In the same way, we adapted audit protocols, third-party control, and supplier prequalification to the new requirements dictated by COVID-19.

It was challenging in all three aspects: relationship with clients, operational management of our team and adaptation of our services to meet market demands.

What technological and innovation trends are you applying in your operations?

There is a 2019 report from Deloitte that studies how the procurement area will be managed with regard to the emergence of new technologies. It focuses on applied innovation on the internet of things, augmented reality, and data analytics.

In companies like Achilles, whose services are oriented to supply chain management, we base our services on two fundamental pillars: information capture and validation. From my point of view, the arrival of artificial intelligence, automation and data analytics tools are going to move this sector towards a decrease in manual work. And, responding to that trend, we are already working on adopting new technologies to create faster, more robust and more secure validation processes. In addition to improving our ability to exploit the data we generate. In both senses we are already innovating to respond to the demands of the market and our clients.

Some time ago we created our Insights unit, a team of data scientists that is dedicated to the analysis of the information captured through the prequalification process, in addition to implementing automatic validation processes, linking third-party sources, etc.

We are already working on our global platform, which is nothing more and nothing less than the materialization of new technologies. Our starting point which will involve concepts such as Artificial Intelligence, data analytics, data science, automation, etc.

What environmental and social programs are you currently developing in the areas where you operate?

We are currently doing a very important job, collaborating with the information management of works for taxes for Antamina. In other words, the way Antamina evaluates its works for taxes program is based on the service we do with them. This is a success story that the industry should know more about.

In general, at Achilles we work to make the industry more competitive. We help the market to have more developed suppliers, with a high level of competitiveness and efficiency, reducing risks and efforts in this task. This translates into more competitive services, which generate a reduction in operating costs and cheaper and more affordable final prices for society.

In conclusion, we help create supply chains that are more professional, sustainable and with fewer risks, which translates into benefits for the organization directly, and indirectly for society as a whole.

Heading to PERUMIN has focused on analyzing the challenges of mining in the regions. What do you consider to be the main impacts of this approach?

From my point of view, the main challenges in the region have to do with compliance regulation issues. In the last decade, the number of legal requirements that an organization must comply with vis-à-vis shareholders, government control bodies and society in general has grown exponentially. The focus in Latin America has to do with money laundering, modern slavery and links to drug trafficking, which are highly relevant topics and which, in the case of the mining sector, being such an exposed industry, have hit hard. All our clients are undergoing audit programs, in order to check on-site which suppliers comply with the legislation; on-site audits, in their own operations and documentary validation of restricted lists, that is the focus today. In short, to make sure that a provider is not linked to corruption networks and that it works in the appropriate way.

Analysts have highlighted the need to close infrastructure and social gaps to reduce conflict. How is Achilles contributing to this process?

Often, a provider who signs up with us sees it as an administrative burden, an unnecessary cost, and a requirement that the buyer forces them to comply with. But in reality what the supplier is doing is standing out among its peers in an increasingly competitive and demanding industry. In the last couple of years, we have drastically changed our supplier service process to help them and give them the tools they need to be more competitive.

This is very important. A company that goes through our processes and does not meet the minimum requirements, but takes it as an opportunity to improve and meet the requirements of the client companies, goes back to the market with accredited credentials that position it in a different way in the eyes of the buyer. This, in short, although indirectly, reduces social gaps, makes the company work more on the development of its personnel, training, investment, etc. It is a joint effort, and we are one more link that contributes to making this happen. We help suppliers to comply with industry standards and purchasing companies to identify the most suitable suppliers to meet their requirements.

For more information on how we can help you reduce risks and efforts in your management as a supply professional, please contact us.

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