New Entity Consolidates Supplier Development StrategyFri, 12/01/2017 - 17:55
Q: How has the Sonora aerospace industry developed over the past two years and what will be the role of the newly created ProSonora office in boosting the sector’s growth?
A: We experienced sustained growth in the aerospace industry for those two years. With 65 aerospace companies, Sonora enjoys a large and diversified base of aerospace Tier 2 suppliers. Most of these companies enjoyed a significant increase in business, which was a direct response to the increase in production at their OEM clients. Growth has also come from major investments announced in the last two years that are now reaching their operational stage. In late 2017, for example, Sonora received a 400-employee facility from AT Engine Mexico. The facility is focused on the production of highly complex components for GE Aviation’s LEAP engine that is now in its initial steps toward production.
ProSonora was formed from the merger of three entities at Sonora’s Ministry of Economy — the Sonora Industrial Park System, the Economic Development Commission and the Council for the Economic Promotion of Sonora — that previously worked, in one way or another, for the development of local companies and the attraction of new investments. By bringing together these entities under a single roof and under the management of the ministry, we can offer a more comprehensive approach and better coordination to investors and local companies. With SMEs, for example, we are now better equipped to match our support programs for these companies with the needs of the local aerospace industry, which is in line with our aerospace development roadmap.
Q: What is ProSonora’s role in supporting the development of the aerospace sector?
A: Our strategy is based on three pillars: promotion, facilitation and coordination. Promotion is not limited to the attraction of new investments. ProSonora creates several opportunities for established companies in our region by raising their visibility through our participation in the most important aerospace trade shows, as well as other promotional activities.
Our role as facilitators allows aerospace companies to reach out to our office to obtain support on matters regarding competitiveness. We particularly focus on issues regarding workforce training. ProSonora runs an aerospace vocational school in Hermosillo and coordinates with other institutions outside this city to ensure that companies have access to the skilled personnel they require. We also support companies in accessing programs and funds available from various federal and state entities like CONACYT and INADEM. Lastly, as coordinators, we act as a focal point for networking and communication between companies located in several key production centers in Nogales, Hermosillo and Guaymas. A scattered supply chain provides several benefits, including limited competition for skilled labor. However, it also presents challenges in terms of coordination.
Q: How have Sonora’s manufacturing and MRO capabilities evolved?
A: Dozens of new processes and several sophisticated pieces of equipment have been implemented at our companies. Ellison Surface Technologies, for example, implemented a second Vapor Phase Aluminizing (VPA) coating machine, which is a diffusion coating process for the protection of turbine components against corrosive and hostile operating conditions. Ellison Surface Technologies is the only third-party supplier in Mexico capable of providing this service. Meanwhile, Shimtech Composites has fired up the largest autoclave in Mexico destined for aerospace components, which will open the possibility to manufacture the largest composite components ever made in this country.
AT Engine is clearly a major milestone in the development of our aerospace capabilities. GE Aviation, after much scrutiny, decided to outsource critical components for the production of the LEAP engine to AT Engine, including blisks, high-pressure turbines and high-pressure compressor spools. These components are so complex that GE Aviation developed its own manufacturing processes and technologies. Sonora is now the recipient of these technologies.