STORY INLINE POST
Q: What does Guanajuato and the Bajio region offer the aerospace sector?
A: Guanajuato is among the states with the highest number of automotive companies, with around 540. The automotive and aerospace industries share many similarities, making the transition from automotive to aerospace relatively straightforward. Guanajuato has the capacity and skilled workforce to transition to the aerospace sector.
The state also has a high level of industrial diversification, ranging from automotive to textiles and footwear. This diverse ecosystem allows companies to complement each other.
Q: How does the cluster help companies transition from sectors like automotive to the aerospace industry?
A: The cluster engages in supplier development, in which we help our partners to find the most suitable path for entering the aerospace industry. We also engage in certification, training and consulting programs, establishing connections with major aerospace companies to help partners acquire the numerous highly rigorous certifications required by the aerospace industry.
Q: How difficult is it for automotive businesses to adapt to the aerospace industry’s specific standards?
A: The primary challenge lies in their mindset. Our task is to guide these companies in shifting their perspective – moving away from the constant demand-driven nature of the automotive industry to the aerospace sector, moving from low mix-high volume performance to a high mix- low volume, but definitely represents a higher income to these companies for every manufactured part. Companies also need a financial cushion to sustain themselves while awaiting the returns from the aerospace industry.
In the aerospace industry, the most sought-after certification is the AS9100D, which is a complement to the ISO 9001 standard. Attaining this certification presents a challenge as it requires a considerable amount of time and meticulous preparation. Furthermore, each aerospace company introduces its own unique requirements. Nevertheless, the transition is not an insurmountable task, as we have already witnessed several cases where companies successfully secured purchase orders from prominent players in the aerospace field.
Entering the aerospace industry is an investment and like any investment, it comes with risks. However, the rewards are even greater. Contracts with aerospace companies last for much longer compared to those with automotive companies. When businesses receive the green light from a large aerospace firm, opportunities start pouring in.
Q: What is the cluster’s role in developing a network of local suppliers?
A: Developing suppliers is our main role because our job is to identify what companies need. We consider trends and the requirements of major enterprises. As an association familiar with the sector and representing various companies, the process becomes much smoother. As a cluster, it is also easier to engage with state governments and educational institutions to design a tailored educational offering. Our main role is to be the initial point of contact that these entities seek.
We are more than suppliers. Instead of trying to attract major companies, we are working on developing local businesses so major enterprises want to come to the state. This will drive the establishment of research centers.
Q: How prepared is the local talent to fulfill the needs of the aerospace industry as it moves to further electrification and other sustainable approaches?
A: The state has a great deal of excellent talent. The main challenge companies face is retaining them as individuals often leave after receiving comprehensive training at small companies to seek opportunities in other states. While the talent exists, the true challenge lies in encouraging them to stay.
We are actively involved in training initiatives for individuals and companies. We help businesses put plans in place to retain talent. This entails ongoing conversations with our partners, academic institutions and government entities. The aim is to develop strategies that emphasize the attraction and retention of individuals.
Q: What can Mexico as a country do to attract more aerospace investment?
A: Mexico has all the necessary elements to attract investment. The country has a highly advantageous location and a skilled workforce, which are attracting businesses that would previously source from Asia. The crucial step is to raise awareness among other industries about Guanajuato’s capabilities.
We collaborate with other clusters and governments to organize trade missions abroad. There is extensive communication among all industry stakeholders, which has allowed us to successfully carry out these promotional activities.
Q: Which factors should companies consider to enter the industry?
A: Certifications are essential to enter the industry. While there might be a bit more flexibility for noncritical components, the stakes are high when dealing with aircraft, involving numerous lives. Certification, far from being a hindrance, is an opportunity. It serves as our introduction card to foreign markets and investment.
Q: What trends does the cluster identify in the Mexican aerospace sector?
A: Drones and intelligent aerial vehicles are becoming increasingly autonomous, reaching a point where they can perform activities that were previously done by humans. We are also discussing with our partners the development of infrastructure that would allow the takeoff and landing of lightweight aircraft, which would enable users to move around the country more easily, cost-effectively and efficiently.
Q: What will the aerospace industry look like in the coming five years?
A: The COVID-19 pandemic did impact the aerospace industry significantly but it is gradually recovering. Some airlines are expanding their fleets to unprecedented numbers. There will be growth in the next five years. Further ahead, the industry will develop more alternative mobility options for people and delivery services.
The Bajio Aerospace Cluster (BJX Aerospace) represents and supports the aerospace industry in Guanajuato and the Bajio region. The cluster aims to integrate its partners into the aerospace supply chain.