Felipe Sandoval
General Manager
Zodiac Aerospace
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Interiors Supplier Focused on Transformation

Sun, 04/01/2018 - 13:11

Q: How is Zodiac Aerospace adapting to remain a competitive and innovative player in the sector?
A: Zodiac has been a worldwide aerospace leader in Mexico for more than 120 years and we are now in the midst of a transition. We are implementing a world-class operating system called Zodiac Aerospace Operating System, which is part of a larger strategy called Focus that will lead Zodiac through its transformation. The final goal is to become a more robust company with reliable products and processes.
Our human capital will be part of our transformation initiative. We are implementing a new leadership model that will help our employees understand what we want as a company and to create a shared mindset among Zodiac’s collaborators. Focus will take us to a zero-defect operation with a 100 percent on-time delivery promise.
Q: How is Safran’s recent acquisition of Zodiac impacting the transformation process?
A: Our transition began before we were acquired by Safran but the company is fully behind our commitment to change. Safran has high expectations for our new joint operations but even leaving the acquisition aside, all companies must work toward a more efficient operation. Our new joint operations with Safran will bring new opportunities for both companies. We really did not act as competitors before because we are more focused on interior components, aerosystems and seats, while Safran is oriented to landing gears, engines and other electrical systems. Now, we will complement each other’s capabilities.
Q: In terms of products, what do you see as the main opportunity for Zodiac to grow its business with OEMs?
A: Zodiac is a leader in technological transformation and we are developing new concepts within our existing core business to satisfy the demands from OEMs. We are working on more advanced and comfortable seating components, as well as innovative interior components. Our design team in Chihuahua won an innovation and design award in 2017 and we also won the Red Dot Award for a new cabin concept we created. Furthermore, we must always help our clients reduce operational costs. Fuel is the largest expense in aviation, which means that lightweight components and new materials are among the priorities for new component development. One of our leading innovations was the Optima seat, which is a new seating design focused on comfort, space efficiency and lightweight application.
Q: How is Zodiac addressing issues related to human capital and high labor turnover?
A: All border cities are facing issues regarding human capital attraction and retention. Just like we want to make our products stand out in the market, we also want our company to be recognized by the way we treat our people and the development opportunities they might have by working with Zodiac. People are looking for a pleasant working environment in which they can grow professionally and all companies should make these factors a priority in their development strategy. We do not see a problem related to lack of talented labor since Mexico is among the leading countries in the production of engineering talent. The problem is how companies are training these people to participate in the industry and how they retain their talent.
Q: What is required for the aerospace sector to consolidate as a key participant in the country’s economy?
A: The sector has grown continuously for the past 10 years and that growth will be sustained. The country has the potential to grow tenfold but we have several challenges that need to be addressed. The first is the state of the local supply chain. We need better integration among suppliers and OEMs, but we also need to collaborate between countries to have a more efficient North American region. Our work with suppliers has been effective. We helped Soisa Aerospace develop as the first Mexican cushion supplier and our goal is to keep helping other companies grow their business within the aerospace industry. Academic programs and governmental policies must be as dynamic as the industry in its transformation.