Affordable Training, Certification Help Among Cluster’s OfferingsFri, 12/01/2017 - 11:19
Q: What is the most important contribution that Monterrey Aerocluster makes to the aerospace industry in Mexico and Nuevo Leon?
CR: The aerospace sector in Nuevo Leon is still in an early stage and the infrastructure for this industry remains underdeveloped. But the region has a strong metal-mechanic segment and these companies can adapt to supply the needs of the aeronautics sector. Monterrey Aerocluster helps its members with this process by providing training courses and helping with the preparation to acquire the certifications needed to enter the industry, since aeronautic companies require suppliers to sustain their growth programs. Monterrey Aerocluster has started integrating advanced manufacturing companies among its members. Once this process is complete, we expect to have 25 new members capable of supplying the needs of OEMs and Tier 1 and 2 suppliers interested in entering the cluster.
Q: How does Monterrey Aerocluster support its members?
CR: First, Monterrey Aerocluster trains its members in the AS 9100 quality management system and provides them with affordable courses that prepare both internal and lead auditors in this certification. Second, we often take part in national and international aerospace events as part of our promotional and networking efforts. Third, we approach local universities to support the generation of human resources who possess the skills the industry demands. Fourth, Monterrey Aerocluster collaborates with other clusters in and outside of Mexico and takes part in FEMIA’s National Suppliers Development Program to stimulate interest in the state’s aerospace industry. We expect to turn Nuevo Leon into a breeding ground for potential industry suppliers through this program as a growing number of companies consider participating in this sector. In 2017, Parker-Stratoflex, Parker-Chomerics, ABT Manufacturing, PS Advanced and Proquímica entered Monterrey Aerocluster. These companies either are ready to enter the aerospace sector or are interested in it.
CB: The AS 9100 certification is the ISO of the aerospace sector. This quality-management certification is part of the boarding pass to this industry. Aerospace businesses will not pay any attention to manufacturing companies that lack this certification. Once a company is certified, it is integrated into a global database called OASIS. Being part of this database is a way to put companies on the global aerospace map, so it helps companies enter the supply chain. Monterrey Aerocluster also helps its members access the Nadcap certification of special processes, such as materials testing, anodized coating, heat treatments and similar secondary manufacturing processes required to elaborate final products.
Q: How does Monterrey Aerocluster boost the development of the aerospace industry in Mexico?
CR: We focus on two main sectors: manufacturing and MRO. Monterrey Aerocluster has an ongoing training and FAA certification project for local MROs to provide maintenance to aircraft with foreign registration. These certifications could spur significant growth as they attract private aviation companies and aircraft that usually go to Texas for these services.
CB: On the other hand, Monterrey Aerocluster connects manufacturing companies through industrial tours. Aérocluster Queretaro and Chihuahua Aerospace Cluster have organized industrial tours for our members. We have done the same for companies from other regions to raise awareness about what is being done in Nuevo Leon. Monterrey Aerocluster helps Tier 2 and 3 companies enter FEMIA’s National Suppliers Development Program and provides uncertified companies — including advanced manufacturing SMEs — certification and training programs. For instance, the cluster organized the Aerospace Industrial Meeting in June 2017. Ninety people took part in this event, including several nonmember companies that possess the abilities demanded by the sector and are interested in entering it but which require the certification.
Q: What advantages does Nuevo Leon possess that would appeal to possible investors?
CR: Monterrey Aerocluster works closely and communicates continuously with the government and academic institutions. The state government plays a key role in attracting investment to the aeronautics sector. Aerospace is a tough industry to enter, so we focus our efforts on developing a supplier base for the sector. It would be great to have a large aerospace company in the region but it is less likely to happen if we do not work first on creating a network of potential suppliers. Nuevo Leon has a deep-rooted industrial culture in the region and is a breeding ground for skilled engineers eager to grow with the industry. Universities are doing a great job training human talent.
CB: We do not currently have a project to attract a specific OEM to Nuevo Leon. But Monterrey Aerocluster works with OEMs established in other regions and regional clusters. Our efforts are more focused on the development of local suppliers than on the attraction of foreign direct investment. No company will be interested in the region that lacks a strong supplier base. Monterrey Aerocluster’s current members are split between the manufacturing, services and MRO sectors. Of our 25 members, 12 are in manufacturing, eight in services and five in MRO.
Q: How is the cluster cooperating on projects with other aerospace players?
CR: We are interested in collaborating with FEMIA’s National Suppliers Development Program because it can help us and our members generate synergies in the short and medium terms. FEMIA has mapped the sector’s demands through this program and it looks for potential suppliers and links them to these demands. Aeronautical clusters want to leverage the growth of the aerospace industry in Mexico by supporting each region’s abilities, connecting cluster members and cooperating in suppliers’ programs. Monterrey Aerocluster works with similar clusters in Mexico through business meetings as a way of strengthening the abilities of each region while dealing with their constraints.
Q: What does the public sector need to do to boost the growth of the aerospace sector in Nuevo Leon?
CR: It takes between three and five years for an aeronautics project to be profitable. We need state and federal support to mitigate the costs of adapting processes of metal-mechanic SMEs into the aeronautics sector. These include the costs of the necessary training, certifications, the development of new products and perhaps the acquisition of technologies. If an SME lacks certifications, such as the AS9100, it will find it difficult to enter this market. If there is no mechanism to help these companies meet these initial costs, it will be difficult for them to afford the investment required for this sector.
Q: How is Monterrey Aerocluster collaborating with academic institutions?
CB: Representatives from academic institutions take part in our work committees, assemblies and board meetings. We go to promotional events together. UANL leads our human development committee. This committee’s objective is to develop a training plan that addresses the needs of companies in the sector. Monterrey Aerocluster also works closely with CONALEP and UANL’s Álvaro Obregón Technical College to strengthen the study plans for technicians who will enter the aerospace market. Technicians specialized in machines and appliances are in high demand in the aerospace industry and Monterrey Aerocluster acts as a bridge between the school and the industry.