René Espinosa
President/ Plant Manager
FEMIA / Metal Finishing Company
/
View from the Top

The Aerospace Sector Will Fully recover by 2024: FEMIA

By Sofía Hanna | Fri, 06/24/2022 - 13:26

Q: How did the aerospace sector transform after the COVID-19 pandemic and how did FEMIA respond to the challenge?

A: When we realized that the pandemic would result in long-term challenges, we understood that the sector needed to work together. Collaboration was essential because the sector was not in control of external factors, causing significant uncertainty. There was nothing we could have done differently at the time.

 

FEMIA is now supporting the industry’s recovery alongside the clusters. We are united and in close communication to customize each specific region. We will also join more events as one block and we are enjoying great synergy. We now work as one country.

 

Q: What are the challenges and areas of opportunity for the industry?

A: The main challenge is understanding how to develop local companies. All sectors are reshoring and relocating their supply chains. Buyers are becoming more dynamic and aggressive; they want to make things happen. The COVID-19 pandemic, logistics problems and the war in Ukraine are forcing OEMs and Tier 1s to relocate or diversify their supply chains.

 

The just-in-time model is shifting to a just-in-case one. Consequently, North American OEMs need to secure their supply chains and Mexico continues being an attractive region to do that. Buyers are willing to work with local SMEs to continue developing their supply chain. Financial support for SMEs is also essential as the costs of raw materials are skyrocketing and lead times are expanding from 30 weeks to 56 weeks. As a country, we need to understand the challenges of the aerospace sector and comprehend how we are going to face them.

 

Q: What is Mexico doing to become the first choice for aerospace manufacturing?

A: The main players want to come to Mexico because they know the region could add to their competitiveness. Mexico strengthens the North American economic block. We need to be fast and reactive and have talent, electrical supply and diverse energy sources available in the main aerospace regions of the country.

 

We need to help Mexican companies understand what new manufacturing technologies can do for them. FEMIA’s Technology Committee launched a project in alliance with Siemens to allow SMEs to perform a self-assessment and evaluate their technological maturity. The largest challenge for SMEs is to understand how to effectively digitize their core businesses, which might create the misconception that digitalization is expensive.

 

The Industrial Innovation Centers for the Aerospace Industry (CIIA) operating in Chihuahua, Aguascalientes, Merida and Tijuana offer SMEs access to software for 3D printing, virtual reality, scanners and other technological tools, which are often considered to be too expensive for small businesses. These centers aim to bridge the technology gaps that local SMEs and students face.

 

Q:  What strategies is FEMIA deploying to keep talent in the industry?

A: We are working with Jorge Gutierrez de Velasco, President of the Mexican Council of Aerospace Education (COMEA), and several universities to adapt their curricula to the needs of each region. Clusters also work with the main educational institutions in each region to adapt programs to support their local needs. This has to be a continuous activity.

 

Q: How do your positions at FEMIA and Metal Finishing Company complement each other?

A: At Metal Finishing Company, I help connect the supply chains from the OEM to the very bottom of the sub-tiers, giving me a comprehensive vision of the supply chain. My relationship with all members of FEMIA has allowed me to complement my other role because now I understand that we need to strengthen the collaboration among the regions and what challenges we are facing as a sector.

 

Q: When will the aerospace sector recover to 2019’s production and export levels?

A: The sector will start recovering by the end of 2022. We expect to see double-digit growth by 2023 and reach 2019’s production levels by 2024. We estimate that the sector grew about 7 percent in 2021, in comparison to 2020, and expect to be back at double digits close to 16 percent growth in 2022. We will also be focusing on transfers and new projects for 2023. The sector is recovering its dynamism.

 

Metal Finishing Company (MFCO) is a family-owned aerospace processing business that offers non-destructive inspection, heat treatment and other processing and paint solutions for aluminum, steel, titanium, magnesium and exotic alloys.

 

The Mexican Federation of the Aerospace Industry (FEMIA) is a nonprofit association that brings together most companies in Mexico’s aerospace sector. The federation was established in November 2007 to promote the development of the Mexican aerospace industry.

Sofía Hanna Sofía Hanna Journalist and Industry Analyst