James Dickson
Vice President of Operations at
Walbar Engine Components
Jesús Valencia
Jesús Valencia
Plant Manager
Walbar Engine Components
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View from the Top

independent Operations Lead to Further Growth

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 09:25

Q: What role does Guaymas play in Walbar Engine Components’ global operations?
JD: Walbar is an independent supplier of turbine components that collaborates with several aerospace companies, including Pratt & Whitney in Canada, MTU and Rolls-Royce. We are actively seeking new customers such as Honeywell, Safran and GE Aerospace. Our operations in Guaymas focus on exports to Germany, the UK, the US and Turkey. We focus on blades, vanes and segments and we have a variety of machining capabilities, from grinding to electrical discharge machining and fast-hole drilling. We also have non-aerospace operations mainly oriented toward turbocharger manufacturing through complex 5-axis machining. Regarding special processes, we can offer clients heat-treatment solutions, metallographic and X-ray analysis and coordinate-measuring machine inspection, among others.
JV: Before becoming Walbar, we operated as Goodrich. Walbar moved its operations from Phoenix to Mexico and it chose Guaymas because of its proximity to the US border and the advantages it found in the shelter services offered in this location. We only had to worry about our manufacturing operations, while the shelter took care of the building and all other operative costs.
Q: What are Walbar’s plans to offer special processes to third parties?
JD: We already provide X-ray inspection services to another company in Sonora. However, our main goal is to support our own operations in-house. Developing services for other companies would be complicated and we would not be able to satisfy the needs of our current clients, plus new ones demanding special processes.
Q: How has Sonora’s aerospace industry evolved to date and how much do you expect it to change in the future?
JD: The evolution of the local labor’ skillset and the technological integration in the state have been considerable. Academic programs are gradually catching up to the industry’s needs and that has great impact on Mexico’s capabilities in the sector. We are now manufacturing complex engine components that would have been previously produced in the US or the UK.
JV: Walbar has worked to grow its operations in the state but to do that we need the support of a strong local supplier network. Over the past 17 years, we have seen development of other companies that can now participate in our production chain. However, especially for components that must go through special processes, it has been challenging to find suppliers that can meet our expectations.
JD: Instead of trying to bring a supplier from the US to Mexico, the industry should address the holes in the local production chain by developing local companies. Foreign companies should work together to find common deficiencies and identify local players that can potentially meet them.
Q: What makes Walbar’s operations in Guaymas more efficient than in other global locations?
JD: Our work ethic has been a crucial factor, since we always make sure all parts have zero defects right from the start. The Mexican culture has also contributed to our development and we have found a true hunger among the local talent to learn, grow professionally and to help the company grow. In other locations, workers leave the plant as soon as they can but here we have seen absolute commitment from our employees who sometimes spend over 12 hours a day at work. The quality of our components might be the same as in other locations but our people make Walbar’s operations in Mexico better.
JV: Our relationship with customers has also helped us grow consistently. We try to keep close communication with our clients so we can address their concerns effectively and maintain the highest level of quality in our products and operations.