Eliminating Potential Human Error a Key DifferentiatorFri, 12/01/2017 - 13:52
Despite a pressing need — or opportunity — to bolster the aerospace supply chain, the lengthy timeframe to reach ROI along with stringent certifications are discouraging some new entrants, according to Miguel Saldamando Rangel, Operations Director of Técnica test.
“In aerospace, production volumes are smaller,” he says. “When companies have a return of MX$0.50 (US$0.03) per part on a 1 million-component deal it is no problem. But when processes are cut down to 4,000 pieces or less, clients do not think it is a good business.” Mexican companies realize they can get their money back faster in other industries such as automotive, with a likely ROI in five years instead of the 20 it takes in aerospace. “That forces investors to think twice and harder before committing to any project,” says Saldamando Rangel. “As a result, we tend to work mostly with large companies that can handle slower returns.”
Técnica test has been in the market as a supplier of nondestructive testing equipment for 30 years. Located in Queretaro, the company’s main clients are part of the automotive production chain but for the past five years, it has grown its presence in the aerospace sector by focusing on one of the biggest OEMs in the country: Bombardier.
Técnica test has a direct partnership with equipment manufacturer Foerster, a German leader in nondestructive equipment based on Eddy Current testing, and Karl Deutsch, a German manufacturer of portable instruments and stationary testing systems. These two brands have helped Técnica test offer Bombardier reliable equipment for material testing and aircraft maintenance inspections.
“We are introducing new optical technologies coupled with artificial intelligence,” says Miguel Saldamando Flanagan, the company’s Director General. “We are bringing equipment from Finland that features cameras that can detect shiny objects and identify defects that are unnoticeable to the human eye.” Técnica test expects to eliminate human error from manufacturing and testing processes and according to Saldamando Flanagan, the company’s equipment can already reduce human error by 20 percent.
However, Técnica test has found that potential clients do not always know the advantages they can get from state-of-the-art measuring equipment. “Companies are not aware that they can get hardness or defect detection data without touching the components,” says Israel Salas, Commercial Director of Técnica test. “Optical and magnetic induction solutions are ideal alternatives for noninvasive tests, which can ensure quality without compromising the parts.” Having a touch-free solution becomes even more important when considering that quality tests are now standard for all components produced and not just for sample pieces.
Saldamando Rangel expects Técnica test’s solutions to become more common in the aerospace sector. At the moment, the aerospace sector represents 10 percent of Técnica test’s operations. The company has found a place for its solutions with clients such as Bombardier and ITP that are in need of microscopes and metallographic equipment. “The first half of 2017 was slow but we expect to close the year with a similar growth rate as in 2016,” says Islas. “By the end of 2016 we grew 15 percent and we expect that due to reduced uncertainty and an improvement in the Mexican economy, 2017 and 2018 will be successful years.”
That being said, Saldamando Flanagan finds there are still opportunities for the Queretaro government to boost certification among smaller companies and promote participation in quality-driven sectors like aerospace. “Orders are fewer and returns might be slower but in the end, aerospace is a good business.”