The Right Measure for MexicoThu, 12/01/2016 - 10:27
Q: What does the aerospace industry represent for the company and its product portfolio?
A: The aerospace industry is our second largest client after the automotive industry, which represents approximately 50 percent of our activity while the aerospace sector represents about 25 percent. Our main clients are Tier 2 and 3 companies that require coating processes or coating thickness measurements. We do sell directly to OEMs and Tier 1 companies but primarily products for quality control. Our products range from simple tools that clients point and use to complex equipment so our customers can make quick decisions and adjust their processes from a computer terminal. We provide software and hardware support and advisory services to ensure customers acquire the equipment that best fits their needs.
We offer a wide variety of measurement probes. On top of standard solutions, we offer tools that measure small corners or vertices where normal equipment does not fit. Some of our probes measure small cavities that are unreachable with any other tool. We have also generated unique measurement methods, including a radioactive probe that uses beta-dispersion with radioactive isotopes. This is a nondestructive, rapid method to measure very large pieces, such as highly valuable aluminum-silver alloys that cannot be broken down. We are the only company using this method, instead of X-rays for instance.
Q: What hurdles did you face when entering the state?
A: We found that many local companies had no experience with our products and therefore preferred to buy from our competition with whom they were familiar. Many of our competitors are present in the region and their products are well integrated into the country, especially those from well-positioned US and UK companies. Therefore, we have leaned on Helmut Fischer’s long tradition in Europe to work with several European companies.
Q: What are the company’s plans for Mexico as an entry point to Latin America?
A: We are planning to expand and certify our local application laboratory with the Mexican Certification Entity (EMA) and eventually under the Nadcap. This is the cornerstone of our medium-term business strategy in Mexico. All our manufacturing is performed in Germany and the US but we have applications laboratories in Maichingen, Germany, in Connecticut, Mexico and Hong Kong. There is high demand in the Asian market for our products because they have broad use in the electronics sector, mainly for the measurement of microscopic materials. In Mexico, last year we received significant requests from electronics companies like Skyworks and Flextronics.
Our offices in Mexico supply the entire country and Central America, primarily Costa Rica, while South America is supplied by offices in Brazil and Colombia. The offices in Queretaro distribute across the country but we plan to open a new office in Monterrey this year for the northern region.
Q: What innovations is Helmut Fischer introducing to the country and how are you promoting them?
A: We are beginning to offer new technologies that are unheard of in Mexico. For instance, we have equipment with X-Ray fluorescence and radioactive isotope probes. We also use nanoindenter technology, a measurement technique at a nanometric scale for non-destructive testing. Helmut Fischer also provides seminars, such as a one-day workshop we manage in CFATA for students and industry representatives, where we connected with Alaxia, a supplier for Boeing. We have noticed that the industry is much more receptive to the latest technologies when introduced through an academic institution. This has led us to organize more seminars of this kind, beginning with one on X-Ray fluorescence.
Q: What is the company’s plan to consolidate its presence?
A: Last year we doubled our sales from 2014 so we have great expectations for 2016 but face difficulties brought about by the devaluation of the Mexican peso, in which some clients manage their budgets. Certifying our applications laboratory is a priority because certifying products are at our offices in Germany is time-consuming. The industry is demanding specialized, certified metrology and calibration so this area has significant long-term potential.