Nicolás Maillard
Plant Manager
Lisi Aerospace
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View from the Top

Plant Acquisition Eyed for Growth

Thu, 12/01/2016 - 16:01

Q: What are Lisi Aerospace’s expectations for its Chihuahua plant and the industry?

A: Lisi Aerospace, a world-renowned business that specializes in fasteners for the automotive and aerospace industries, has been undergoing a diversification process for the past five to six years involving our transition from fasteners to structural components. The company’s goal is to grow through the acquisition of plants dedicated to component manufacturing, followed by commercial growth to increase our market. This plant is part of that diversification strategy and manufactures exclusively structural component pieces, mainly for Airbus and Boeing braking systems. Our branch in Chihuahua has grown 25 percent every year on average since 2010 and operates with the same quality and safety standards as our plants in France.

While this plant is still small in terms of production, Mexico is gaining importance in the global aerospace market as OEMs, such as Airbus, Boeing and Safran have shown interest in manufacturing in the country. Therefore, having a fully installed plant in the area before these companies arrive is advantageous, establishing our position ahead of other suppliers. Our number of clients and production capacity will continue to increase because the global industry will require about 3,500 aircraft in the next 20 years. We are confident that up to 30 percent of the pieces for those aircraft will be manufactured in Mexico by that time. Lisi Aerospace’s operations are prepped to support Airbus and other OEMs, which will increasingly use suppliers from Mexico and Canada.

Q: What needs to be done to close the supply chain gap?

A: We manufacture torque tubes, which handle the airplane’s braking energy. This piece is critical to the aircraft because it would be unable to brake without it. We forge these parts in France and some of their components are machined here in Chihuahua. But these pieces require a heat treatment that is unavailable in Mexico, forcing us to send the pieces to be treated in the US and then to import them back into Mexico. It would be ideal to have a local company with this expertise.

One of the reasons we are here is the support we received from Chihuahua’s government and it is necessary to maintain these state initiatives to continue attracting companies and investment. In my opinion, the government has to invest for another five to 10 years to strengthen the local supply chain. Lisi Aerospace is part of the local aerospace cluster, which has greatly supported the company by training personnel and could train even more professionals by collaborating with the government. To reach our 5 percent growth target we need operators, technicians and industrial developers, without whom our growth would be hindered.

Half of Chihuahua’s population is under 25 years of age, meaning that we will not be short of human capital in the next 10 years. In contrast, our plant in France is facing difficulties hiring personnel because the cost of labor is too high for basic production.

Q: What new technologies does Lisi Aerospace plan to introduce to its local facilities?

A: Our core competency is machining steel, titanium and aluminum. We will expand in this area and continue developing machining processes. Though we do not plan to introduce new technologies, we want to develop new manufacturing processes and increase the types of pieces manufactured in Chihuahua, possibly delving into motor parts.

One of our competitive advantages is that we are using pieces forged in France that already hold the necessary certifications and are trusted by clients, while we also have the benefits of low-cost local production. Lisi Aerospace plans to develop new products with new clients. We are now working almost entirely for Safran and would like to expand our customer base. At the beginning, we struggled to convince clients in France that Chihuahua had the suitable skills to supply them but now this is clear to them.