Regional entrepreneurs recognize the reality of the development of the Guanajuato aerospace industry and the need to take advantage of all the opportunities that the state has to develop this technologically advanced manufacturing.
The foundation of the aerospace activity in Guanajuato is comprised of two important elements: the continuing technological development of the industry and the building of a regional supply base to effectively service it.
Each of the elements is a pillar upon which the sector will develop its strategies to drive industry growth through manufacturing and “mind-facturing.” This thought was recently expressed by the treasurer of the Aerospace Cluster of the Bajío, Oscar Rodríguez Yáñez.
The main players in the Guanajuato aerospace industry aim to pursue the development of new technologies that include the incorporation of Industry 4.0, additive manufacturing, composite design, and the Internet of Things (IoT) into their varied manufacturing processes. According to Rodríguez Yáñez, one of the regional industry’s principal objectives is to concentrate on the development of additive technology, as well the use of stainless steel for aerospace applications, as these are segments of the aerospace industry that are currently in demand.
Supplier development is key to the Guanajuato aerospace industry growth
Developing greater local supply capabilities is another one of the tasks to be performed to further develop the Guanajuato aerospace industry. Oscar Rodríguez Yáñez, who is also the CEO of Optimen, a Mexican software development company that markets technology applications to the airline industry, recently asserted that “in the midst of the current objectives identified by the local industry, establishing strategic alliances will be of fundamental importance to adding new capabilities and to promoting the integration of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises into the region’s aerospace industry supplier base. Although Guanajuato is a relative newcomer to the aerospace industry, the state has a significant manufacturing base and has the capacity to accomplish these goals. “Being able to do things differently, to take advantage of the muscle we have developed among the small and medium-sized businesses, OEMs, and the cluster of the 240,000 companies in the state is essential to developing a supplier base that can support the emerging Guanajuato aerospace industry.
Orienting the production capabilities of the industry that is found in Guanajuato towards the aerospace industry will be one of the main challenges related to the creation of a reliable base of suppliers in the region.
Among aerospace companies, he said, Optimen focuses on technology development for industry, fleet, and crew optimization, among other applications. The use of Optimen technology can be dedicated to activities connected to the manufacture and maintenance of aircraft interiors.
Together with the Mexican Federation of the Aerospace Industry (FEMIA) the Guanajuato aerospace industry cluster is currently working on a supplier development program, which aims to train 25 potential suppliers in its first phase.
The industry ecosystem created by the automotive industry in Guanajuato, he said, will be of primordial importance in the quest to convert suppliers from the automotive to the aerospace sector. Another challenge to the development of the Guanajuato aerospace industry is related to the fact certifications for the aerospace industry are different from the accreditations required by the automotive industry. The training and certification process for the aerospace industry requires from one to three years, to obtain. This is according to the director of the Aerospace Cluster of Bajío, Alejandro Arredondo.
Foreign direct investment in the sector is needed
Also challenging is the fact that from 1999 to the first half of 2020, Guanajuato’s aerospace industry has an extremely limited record of foreign direct investment in the manufacture of aerospace equipment, according to the records of the Secretariat of Economy (SE). During the same period, however, investment by companies manufacturing auto parts, automobiles and trucks, and other transportation equipment has totaled US $6.76 billion. While the automotive industry in Guanajuato is highly developed, the Guanajuato industry consists of only seven companies that employ approximately 250 direct labor workers to date.
During the period from 2014 to 2019, the Guanajuato aerospace industry reported average annual growth of 18%. This occurred mainly in the civil and commercial aeronautics subsectors, while projections for 2020 have been undermined by the pandemic’s impacts on civil aeronautics. For Mexico as a whole, at the end of 2019, this industry reported 368 industrial facilities in the country, with a presence in 19 of the 32 states and a job creation that has exceeded 60,000 positions.
Mexico identifies five main regions of the country for its aerospace industry. They are Baja California (97 companies), Sonora (58 companies), Chihuahua (52 companies), Querétaro (50 companies), and Nuevo León (33 companies). This is according to information provided by the Mexican Federation of the Aerospace Industry