Volume 15 | Issue 3 | Year 2012

In recent years, residential homes have increasingly moved closer to energy substations,” notes Gabriel Garza Herrera, commercial director for Prolec GE, a leading transformer manufacturer in North America. As a result of this trend, residents now tend to carry out their daily activities close to the electrical equipment that sustains their homes. The proximity can lead to noise pollution for homeowners. “A transformer, just like other equipment, isn’t exempt from generating noise while it operates,” explains Garza.
Spotting that market tendency, Prolec GE developed transformers with noise levels below the industry standard. The result: transformers that operate 24/7, but with a noise level that’s much easier on homeowners’ ears.

This ability to spot market needs and respond to them is just one of the strategies Prolec GE has incorporated to reach its current top position in Mexico’s market. Today the company is one of the leading manufacturers of power transformers in North America.

Prolec GE produces transformers for residential, commercial, and industrial purposes. Its product scope includes single-phase pole type and pad-mounted transformers for residential use; three-phase pad-mounted transformers for commercial and wind farm applications; primary and secondary substation transformers for industrial purposes; and power transformers geared for the generation, transmission, and distribution of electrical energy.

Headquarters for the company, as well as one of its three production plants, are located just outside of Monterrey. In addition, Prolec GE has two production plants in India. In all, the company employs close to 4,500 workers.

The company first began operations in 1970. That year, under the name Xignux, it acquired a small plant in Mexico City, where it began producing transformers. Six years later, the company transferred operations to the city of Apodaca, a suburb of Monterrey, Mexico.

“During the next 15 years, we increased our product offering through technological advancements,” notes Garza. In addition, the company developed a culture of Total Quality Control and began exporting some of its products.

In 1995, Xignux entered into a joint venture with General Electric, a global leader in a number of sectors, including electric power systems, medical, aerospace, telecommunications, and financial services. From the agreement, Prolec GE was formed, with GE owning 50 percent of the shares, and the remaining 50 percent controlled by the Mexican company.

The venture quickly led to a period of growth for the company, particularly in the United States’ market. “The co-investment allowed us to branch into additional product ranges during the years 1996 to 2003,” says Garza.

Today Prolec GE is the main transformer business of GE. Its wide array of produces includes single-phase pole type transformers ranging from 5 to 167kVA; single-phase pad-mounted transformers from 10 to 167kVA; three-phase pad-mounted transformers ranging from 30 to 5,000kVA; submersible transformers, both single and triple-phase, from 25 to 500kVA; substation transformers from 225kVA to 15,000kVA; dry-type medium voltage transformers; and primary substation transformers. It also produces power transformers and autotransformers.

Since 1995, Prolec GE has delivered more than 1.5 million transformers to clients in the United States. In Mexico, the company’s main client is the Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE), a Mexican state-owned electric company. Within Mexican borders, the company sells its products through Prolec and Viakable distributors. For exports, it uses the global sales network of General Electric.

Today, 75 percent of Prolec GE’s products are sent to the United States, Canada, Central America, and South America. In all, its products are installed in more than 35 countries around the world.

According to Garza, one of the factors that has allowed Prolec GE’s to reach its current leading position in the transformer market lies in the reliability of its products. “We produce transformers that can run for years without any repairs required,” he explains.

In addition to the focus on producing long-lasting, durable transformers, the company works to listen to customers and provide a solution that fits their exact needs at just the right time. This emphasis has led the company to focus on creating products that are highly dependable while operating, delivering products on time, and making its team of employees readily available during the final design process, manufacturing stage, testing phase, and the product delivery.

While the company has a strong focus on customer satisfaction, it also takes special measures to ensure the wellbeing of the environment. “In the last several years, we’ve worked to increase energy efficiency,” he says. “This technology reduces electrical power loss in the transformer’s nucleus by up to 65 percent.” The move was widely accepted and sought after in Mexico. The company has also invested in the development of transformers for wind mill and solar energy resources.

In addition to these, the company places a strong emphasis on innovation, with a center for technological development located near the city of Monterrey, Mexico.

Within the company, “we have our list of values posted everywhere, so employees can take note and carry out accordingly,” says Garza. The company’s set of six core values include: respect for the individual, integrity, responsibility, team spirit, innovation, and customer focus. Regarding respect, “we value the dignity of each individual, and we work to aid both personal and professional development,” notes Garza. “We also appreciate each worker’s ideas and contributions. As a consequence of this, we promote dignified work and foster the quality of life for both our workers and their families.”

When it comes to team spirit, the best results come with teamwork, says Garza. “This can be seen in an openness to new ideas, a spirit of service, and respect toward a collaborative effort in a trustworthy environment.”

In recent years, “we’ve definitely seen an influx of Asian manufacturers in North America,” notes Garza. To maintain its market lead, in spite of the global competition, Prolec GE has increased resources that allow the company to be closer to its clients, with the goal of offering solutions that meet their needs. “With this, when a client acquires a power transformer, we make sure that our engineers work together with the client’s technical team to create a final design that’s optimal for its requirements.”

Throughout its years as Prolec GE, the company has undergone continuous, rapid growth. According to Garza, Prolec GE is expected to continue this pace, at a rate of approximately 10 percent annual growth for the next three years.

Looking into the future for the company, “we want to continue our expansion into other markets, both through our own growth and other acquisitions,” says Garza. “To do this, we’ll be evaluating our best options in select markets.”

From its high quality transformers that meet the exact needs of clients, to its work environment and culture that motivates and sustains workers, Prolec GE is bound to maintain its leading position both in Mexico and North America. Its focus on environment care, especially through its solar energy and windmill emphasis, will help move the company into the next generation of power transformation for the planet.