Aerospace Sector Advances in GuanajuatoBy Antonio Gozain | Tue, 05/24/2022 - 10:30
Q: After two difficult years due to the pandemic and subsequent disruptions, what is the outlook for the aerospace industry in Guanajuato?
A: We see a favorable outlook for Guanajuato’s aerospace industry. The recovery among direct suppliers is ramping up, with new projects and a nearshoring case from Asia. We expect a speedy recovery and return to pre-pandemic figures. In 2019, Guanajuato exported around US$15 million in aerospace parts and components. We expect to reach this figure and even surpass it with the current ramp-up. While these numbers are lower than those for other states, we are on the correct path, considering how young the cluster is.
Q: What does Horizontec mean for Guanajuato and the Mexican aerospace industry?
A: Although we have several interesting operations within the state, Horizontec is the flagship company for Guanajuato’s aerospace industry. It represents the capabilities of our country. Guanajuato is proud to host Horizontec, a company that designs and manufactures light-sport aircraft (LSA). Horizontec is building manufacturing facilities and will begin production soon. In the next few years, the company will manufacture about 20 airplanes annually. This is encouraging for Guanajuato and Mexico.
Q: What challenges and opportunities does Horizontec’s operations bring to local suppliers?
A: Finding suppliers for Horizontec has been an interesting challenge because the region does not have many companies that sell raw materials or provide specialized processes. Carbon fiber and composite materials, for example, must be imported. However, Horizontec can generate opportunities for suppliers by certifying its suppliers, facilitating the insertion of new companies into the aerospace supply chain, especially for machining and plastic-injection. This will help companies migrate from other sectors to the aerospace industry. BJXAerospace also drives the diversification of companies, mainly in the transition from the automotive sector to the aerospace industry.
Q: Why should established automotive suppliers enter the aerospace industry?
A: The pandemic aside, the aerospace industry has been a stable sector with sustained growth. The automotive industry is more susceptible to government and generational changes. Although the automotive sector was recovering from the pandemic, it is undergoing new challenges from the different trends that have impacted suppliers.
Profit margins in the aerospace sector are also better than in the automotive industry. The latter offers an 8-10 percent markup and manages larger volumes. Aerospace industry markups can surpass 50 percent in engine parts and components but volumes are smaller. Entrepreneurs may ask themselves what is better for them, either to produce 20 million screws or 20. This is one of the main differences between both sectors.
In addition, being an aerospace supplier gives companies brand recognition because it is a highly selective sector.
Q: What makes Guanajuato an attractive state for the aerospace sector?
A: Guanajuato is focusing on developing technology, processes and products. In the automotive sector, for example, Mexico is more focused on maquila operations but aerospace focuses on innovation and technology to offer diverse services to airlines. For example, a company in Guanajuato that made shoe leather saw an opportunity to produce airplane seats. Through R&D, the company developed a tanning process to lower the weight and density of the leather while increasing its resistance. The company now sells its solution to national and international airlines.
Q: What strategies is BJXAerospace implementing to grow the aerospace industry in Guanajuato?
A: BJXAerospace focuses on three main strategies: talent development, supply chain and promotion. To develop the industry, the state requires talent and specialized training. The cluster works closely with academia. The state has campuses where aerospace technicians and engineers are trained, in addition to schools for pilots and flight attendants. We also support the design of programs for those already working in the sector.
Regarding supply chain integration, BJXAerospace puts a great deal of emphasis on supplier development. We evaluate the competencies of suppliers and check if they match demand. We focus on avoiding duplication and we have adopted the good practices of other clusters and of FEMIA, which knows the sector’s needs.
Q: How does BJXAerospace promote Guanajuato’s aerospace industry?
A: BJXAerospace promotes the capabilities of Guanajuato’s companies and talent. The cluster also works with the government to attract investment to the state and participates in important events, such as Mexico Aerospace Forum 2022. We attended events in Dallas and I will attend the Farnborough Airshow with FEMIA in July 2022. We worked previously with the Mexican Aerospace Fair (FAMEX).
We also signed a memorandum of understanding with Industrial Transformation Mexico (ITM), which is in charge of the Hannover Messe event held in Leon, Guanajuato. The cluster focuses on promoting the state’s tech capabilities for the aerospace sector, such as additive manufacturing, software development, IoT and automation.
The Bajio Aerospace Cluster (BJXAerospace) represents and supports the aerospace industry in Guanajuato and the Bajio region. The cluster aims to integrate its partners into the design and development of parts, components and aircraft, ensuring a high level of global competitiveness.