Innovators are essential at Cereales Cienfuegos

Approximate reading time: 3 minutes, 42 seconds

Almost 250 tons

“Since the end of 2023 we have not stopped. Even at the beginning of this year we were the only mill that maintained production for the entire country,” said Digsan Martínez Vergara, director of Cereales Cienfuegos, in reference to the crisis that for more than two months put the Cuban food industry in check. , to the point of not being able to guarantee bread in the basic basket and being forced to resort to extenders for its production.

“In order to sustain the plant and have it in operation,” he added, “we had to appeal to innovation, based on a technological gap in the entry of spare parts close to five years. Here we work with pneumatics, mechanics, automatics and electricity; components that use foreign-made elements, which are very difficult to acquire due to financial limitations and the US blockade.”

Given the accentuated problems in motors, reducers and other equipment, the inventiveness of the workers is the lifeline of this enclave, responsible for 40 percent of the wheat flour consumed in Cuba. The acid test was the repair of the elbow of the VIGAN crane, associated with the million-dollar investment in the unloading and delivery project, fully launched last March. If they crossed their arms and waited for their importation, perhaps Cereales Cienfuegos would still be detained.


“That was a work feat,” says Nahyroby Álvarez Flores, a welder, when he returns to the intense hours of those days when they worked until night to make the piece. “We spent a week or so working double shifts to get the job done, with the added stress of the arrival of a ship that we needed to unload no matter what due to the flour crisis in the nation.

“We face a thousand difficulties due to the lack of resources. We had to go out to look for materials: a tube that appeared in a center, another one there, and here, to then form the elbow. It was very complex, because we didn’t have a compass or a semicircle either, and we managed with rustic things, since we marked with a piece of paper, transported the measurements, and so on. It was the first time we faced something of such magnitude, but we pulled it off,” he added.

The elbow of the VIGAN crane repaired by factory workers in record time./Photo: Juan C. Dorado/September 5

At 21 years old, the young Lázaro Adrián Martí Junco, an industrial mechanic, became the protagonist of such a feat along with four companions. “The most difficult thing, when cutting the tube into staves, was to achieve symmetry at the time of welding, due to the angles required. If we hadn’t done it, we just had to wait for them to import another one,” he said.

The creativity and perseverance of these workers implied a saving for the country of 55 thousand euros, according to the estimated value of the replaced piece in the international market.

“When he broke his elbow, the entire VIGAN crane had to be disassembled into pieces, which meant a lot of money,” said Alexey Hervé Consuegra, equipment operator. “However, our engineers, paileros and welders manufactured it, and it is very good; It works one hundred percent as if it were original. Now, with the new transporters, in just fifteen days we unloaded 30 thousand tons of wheat from the last ship received; “That never happened before,” he said.

Lázaro Adrián and Nahyroby, two of the young people who carried out the manufacture of the new elbow for the VIGAN crane../Photo: Juan C. Dorado/September 5

Lázaro Álvarez Ruiz has accumulated more than three decades of work at Cereales Cienfuegos and is still dedicated to innovation as in the best of times. Currently, he works as a workshop manager and mechanic, and when you get to his position – say colleagues – you always find him solving some problem.

“At this time, we took on the task of solving the problem of “vitaminators”, as there were no resources for them. We are talking about the additive that regulates the portion of vitamins for wheat flour. As we lack other outlets, we have to constantly innovate in order to avoid the paralysis of the industry: we repair motor shafts, we make new bushings, we replace damaged ball boxes… It is a daily task, and mentioning only these jobs is insignificant,” he expressed. .

This is attested to by Enrique Ramos Herrera, Maintenance specialist, who assures that, through the innovation committees and the support of national companies based in the province, we are making progress in the recovery of various elements within the Cienfuegos mill. “In addition to the crane elbow, we fixed one of the conveyors that transports the wheat to the silos, we manufactured threads and rescued two intensive humidifiers. “In this way,” he said, “we continue, without being forced to stop in such a difficult scenario.”

Lázaro Álvarez Ruiz is recognized as the greatest innovator of Cereales Cienfuegos, after 32 years of work in this enclave./Photo: Juan C. Dorado/September 5

Contrary to what should be the norm, instead of floating in uncertainty, such efforts are still waiting for monetary compensation, after months and much more.

“They haven’t paid us for our innovations for years, but that’s how we continue working. Since they changed the system, the possibility was centralized in the Havana company and this was weak here. That is why we ask that he return to Cienfuegos,” said Álvarez Ruiz.

Álvarez Flores expressed a similar criterion: “Apart from profits, which may or may not occur, as an operator I earn less than 3 thousand pesos. It’s not even enough for my son’s snack. They told us that they were going to pay for the innovation of the VIGAN crane elbow; We completed the documentation, we sent it, more than five months have passed, and nothing.”

Although the controversies surrounding remuneration at Cereales Cienfuegos are an old topic, which returns at times like a boomerang, it cannot in any way be lost sight of, especially if it is appropriate to reward the inventiveness and sweat of those who keep the most important industry alive today. Cuban miller.

Since March, the million-dollar investment in the unloading and delivery project began to operate at full capacity, industry executives assured./Photo: Juan C. Dorado/September 5

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