Backbone of Queretaro MRO Built on Education, SafetyFri, 12/01/2017 - 10:22
Q: How has TechOps Mexico improved its capabilities?
A: We doubled our capacity thanks to changes to our organizational structure in 2016. We completely renovated the way we operate to increase our efficiency. TOMX in Queretaro inhabits three hangars, which can accommodate 12 aircraft simultaneously and 12 operation lines. We are the biggest player in Central America after Aeroman in El Salvador and one of the largest in Latin America. 2016 was our best year in terms of financial results. Our teams are operating at full capacity but this facility was designed to host an additional hangar. Once the fourth hangar is built, between 400 and 600 jobs will be created as part of our commitment to Queretaro. In return, the state will continue to allocate funds to education and other incentives to support human capital growth.
As we are owned by Delta Airlines and Aeroméxico we had a fixed number of projects in 2016. Having incorporated additional lines to support our existing operations, in the future we could incorporate third-party airlines. As an incubator for new ideas for Delta Airlines, we became a center of excellence for safety, which is our main priority. Our security risk decreased from 1.7 percent to 0.7 percent last year. Safety and training our people are the backbone of our operations. We have doctors and an ambulance on site 24 hours a day. Since 2015, incidents have been reduced by 60 percent and injuries by 33 percent. This has led to a reduction of our insurance premium of several million pesos, which we are reinvesting in safety certifications.
Q: What strategies did TechOps Mexico implement to mitigate problems and take advantage of operational growth?
A: We began building our facility in 2016 under the Six Sigma three-year framework. We analyzed the areas that needed improvement, doubling our workload to 12 lines. This was a challenge but allowed us to determine further areas for improvement. A comprehensive plan was developed to sustain this growth and we added 200 people to our team. Today, we are focusing on our partnership with the cluster to share best practices and incorporate the Six Sigma culture into our operations. We are also investing in Dale Carnegie training to continue generating front-line leaders.
In line with our customer focus, we are introducing the principles of KBKC for the first time in Latin America. KBKC dictates you know your customer, be proactive, keep your promises and create value. To optimize operations, we created a central “brain” to coordinate all MRO lines, which saved thousands of man-hours per month. This team is responsible for setting the strategies for every other team. We have an interior workshop and are bringing many other capabilities such as paintwork. Eventually we might even develop capabilities for low-volume, high-value manufacturing.
Q: What changes were necessary to prepare the facility to incorporate projects from other airlines?
A: We have received many enquiries from airlines from the US and Canada, which have been impressed by our capabilities. There is no other MRO like ours in Mexico, the US or in Europe. Being only 3 years old, the facility’s design is modern and environmentally conscious. Solar panels over the parking lot supply 30 percent of our electricity costs. We have water-retention systems and a reverse osmosis water-filtration system. This system recycled 264,700 liters of water in 2016, which was used to irrigate green areas.
Our growth model is different to other MROs, as we base it on our experience working with manufacturers both in aerospace and in sectors such as automotive and oil and gas. We are also deeply involved with the aerospace cluster, sharing resources and best practices with other members.
Q: What challenges will TechOps Mexico face during the construction of the new hangar and how do you plan to overcome them?
A: We could easily build the hangar in two years but it would require an increase in our workforce by 30 percent and training that number of people in such a short time is not feasible. For that reason, we are working with UNAQ and CONALEP to generate more training courses. We employ 1,710 people, of whom 800 are technicians who graduated from UNAQ and 95 from CONALEP. Our teams plan to take on 90 interns in 2017 from local universities, including UAQ, UTEC, ITESM and UNAQ. One of the main advantages of operating in Mexico is its working-age population. Our workforce’s average age is 32 years. But what differentiates the country most is the number of educated and skilled employees per capita. World Atlas put the yearly number of engineering graduates at 113,944 at the end of 2016.
Many companies struggle to move products and components across borders due to blocks on textiles, for instance. This complicates our processes. For example, if we want to import fabrics for seatbelts we require a special clearance. If this process were streamlined it would help TechOps Mexico’ operations run more smoothly and more efficiently.
Q: How are you contributing to human resources development for the aerospace industry?
JL: A recent deal with GE Aviation will provide Six Sigma Black Belt support and Green Belt training for our technicians. In exchange, we will install GE Aviation offices in our facilities so they can have a hand in engine runs and engine operations.
One of our main tasks for 2016 was to develop our employees’ skills, so approximately 250 TechOps Mexico staff completed professional courses in avionics, mechanics or aerostructures at UNAQ. This helped many to be promoted internally, having developed a strong skills base in aircraft care. Our goal is to offer professional opportunities to all of our employees. Every employee in our facility was encouraged to sign up for the Green Belt course, not just engineers and technicians.
One of our company’s biggest cultural changes is investing in our front-line leaders, who are heading up operations. Last year, we provided leadership courses for almost 100 supervisors, line leaders and managers to teach them crucial soft skills. Investing in our leaders has helped us transform our culture.
Q: How is the aero cluster implementing projects with local industry to train human capital?
A: The cluster is surveying all its members to identify their needs. Queretaro needs to develop a list of core competencies, including standard work, lean manufacturing and safety principles to present to the education sector. Once developed into a syllabus, UNAQ will train students accordingly for all companies in the cluster. UNAQ’s courses were initially designed for manufacturers but have been modified over the years to address emerging industry needs. A new competencies list will allow the cluster to pool funds effectively and invest more wisely in specialized training courses.
Q: What are TechOps Mexico’s long-term goals and plans to achieve them?
A: Our Queretaro facilities can receive and maintain the Boeing 717, Boeing 737, Embraer ERJ-145, Embraer E170, Embraer E190, McDonnell Douglas 88 and McDonnell Douglas 89. We are certified by the FAA and DGAC. Our center registered 1.8 million man-hours in 2016 and in 2018, our goal is to be known as a world-class organization under Six Sigma, also increasing our services for the Boeing 737. We will also generate skills to receive the 757 and begin manufacturing parts.
TechOps Mexico is an MRO service center jointly financed by Delta Airlines and Aeroméxico. TechOps is the third-largest MRO provider in the world and this facility is the largest MRO center in Latin America