Juan Rodríguez
Director General
Exova Mexico

Scottish Powerhouse Supports Monterrey Testing

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 13:25

Monterrey was the second-largest contributor to Mexican manufacturing GDP in 2016 but this cluster is mostly incubating small companies, which among aerospace businesses means no on-site testing. While large organizations can develop their own testing departments in-house, smaller manufacturers find the cost to develop entire testing labs prohibitively expensive. These companies struggle to fund certifications, which Juan Rodríguez, Director General of Exova Mexico, says are complicated to obtain for any company.

To address these companies’ needs, Exova has introduced a series of comprehensive services to the region, offering a more convenient alternative to outsourced testing. “Certifications and approvals for the aerospace sector are complex to obtain, so sometimes we are the only ones in the region to have them,” says Rodríguez.

Exova opened offices in Monterrey 11 years ago, having seen an opportunity to work with Frisa, and signed another 10-year contract with it in 2016. Exova will offer the metalworker several aerospace testing services, including mechanical, chemical, nondestructive and metallurgy testing, for a value of £28 million (US$37 million). This alliance will require Exova to make an initial investment of £1.6 million (US$2.1 million) in its offices in Monterrey. “Our offices in Monterrey have steadily grown over the past 10 years as we have excellent support from our headquarters,” says Rodríguez. “We have to increase our skills to address new needs for the local aerospace industry.” The company focuses mainly on the aerospace sector in Monterrey. “Every Exova laboratory has different capabilities,” he says. “As a group, our goal is to provide a comprehensive service through our network.”

Exova Monterrey works alongside several offices in Canada, the US and Europe. Their offices in northern Mexico support the local sector and other countries, providing services to all of Mexico and the US. This is thanks to strong customers including Bodycote, EZI Metales, Global Composites, ITP, PCC Noranco, Snecma and Wyman Gordon. Globally, the Scottish company is becoming a testing powerhouse  with 135 offices spread across 33 countries and in 2016, it reported almost 11 percent revenue growth totaling £328.6 million (US$435.2 million).

Exova Monterrey’s core business is mechanical testing followed by metallography and nondestructive testing. The company is planning to introduce two additional testing capabilities, immersion ultrasound testing and chemical tests to measure the percentage of oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen in super alloys and titanium materials. “We are fully certified for the aerospace industry as we possess NADCAP and ISO 17025, and have certifications from several aerospace giants including Boeing, GE, Rolls-Royce, Snecma Safran and Pratt & Whitney,” says Rodríguez. Following its local success, the company is considering opening a second office in another state. A goal that it plans to crystallize in 2018. “We want to be close to our customers to obtain immediate feedback,” says Rodríguez. He is analyzing Queretaro and Guaymas, where ample potential customers have facilities.

Exova’s investments mimic its expectations for the aerospace industry. “The sector will continue growing. New engine programs which use fuel more efficiently and reduce noise are being developed and will enter the market in the coming years. Furthermore, the industry will demand the replacement of old engines,” says Rodríguez. He also has high expectations for Mexico’s industry. “Mexico does not currently assemble entire aircraft but this will develop as the country’s aerospace sector becomes fully fledged.”

High expectations imply a lot of work. “We have been busy thanks to strong local industry,” says Rodríguez. “Our work volume has risen and we are improving our internal processes to keep up.” He plans to double Exova’s capacity for mechanical testing, including stress and creep testing, and implement chemical testing by the end of 2017. “We will need to increase our workforce to include an additional shift for several of our operations and acquire new equipment,” says Rodríguez. For 2017, the company expects to grow by 20 percent, encouraged by several new investments that have been signaled by aerospace companies.