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A Stronger Industry Through Local R&D

Jatziri Barrios - ETU Aerospace


Sofía Hanna By Sofía Hanna | Journalist and Industry Analyst - Wed, 06/30/2021 - 09:46

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Q: ETU Aerospace has been in Queretaro for about 30 years. What have been the biggest advantages the state has offered to the company?

A: ETU started with an energy division. About 10 years ago, we expanded into the aerospace division and seven years ago we opened an R&D division. Queretaro’s advantages are derived from the support of academia. The state is well aware of the importance of a well-trained workforce and high-level education for the industrial sector. Queretaro has great academic institutions training technicians and engineers. Some institutions even offer master’s in science programs.


The state also offers support through its triple helix approach: the synergy between the government, academia and the industry that allows institutions to communicate and collaborate. In the aerospace sector, Queretaro is known as the second EU because the state provides a safe environment and has good social security and healthcare services.


Q: Queretaro’s aerospace industry has been growing rapidly in the last decade. How has this impacted ETU Aerospace’s business model?

A: During the past five years, the growth of the aerospace industry in Mexico and Queretaro helped us strengthen our business relationships with foreign companies. While there are numerous aerospace companies in Mexico, decisions are made by companies’ main offices abroad. We are demonstrating that Queretaro and Mexico have a strong supply chain and well-trained human capital. ETU Aerospace has been part of the industry’s growth and being in this state helped us demonstrate our capabilities to our headquarters and allowed us to grow exponentially.


Q: What added value does ETU Aerospace offer to customers in the manufacturing of aerospace parts?

A: We have three advantages as a company. The first is that as a family company our decision-making process is much faster than for larger corporations. This has helped us with customers and allowed us to provide better after-services. The second advantage is the knowledge we have acquired during the past 30 years. Turbines and steam turbines are critical and require very specific knowledge of materials and manufacturing. The third advantage is that we have the support of a group of consolidated industries so we have the necessary R&D and machinery for the aerospace sector.


Q: What challenges do you foresee in the manufacturing and development of new aerospace parts?

A: After the pandemic, companies are trying to relocate their supply chains to more advantageous locations. New technologies are also emerging and along with improved communication. The pandemic also demonstrated the need to be more sustainable.


Mobility is changing thanks to new materials, components and developments. As an SME, the challenge is to understand where new technologies will take us and to be capable of incorporating these technologies in our facility and capture the new opportunities that are coming due to the regionalization of the supply chain. This will bring new technologies and processes to Mexico and we need to be able to adopt them.


Q: In 2014, ETU developed its own R&D branch. How has this division contributed to your growth in the aerospace market?

A: Our R&D incorporates several Ph.D.s in robotics, dynamics and materials who help us optimize times for every new project. This branch also develops new products, conducts bench tests and files patents. Through it, we have developed in-house manufacturing processes and strategies for vertical integration. The R&D division provides numerous competitive advantages. Our talent is mainly Mexican as the country has highly capable professionals.   


The R&D division has grown on its own thanks to its different patents. We also perform MRO services for international companies and aim to keep developing technologies and products. Our core industries are oil and gas and aerospace but we are open to other industries.


Q: How have you taken advantage of your collaboration with CIDESI and UNAM to address local industry challenges?

A: These collaborations have helped us to train our people and share best practices. Alongside UNAM, we are developing a green micro-turbine, a new technology to recover the energy that is normally wasted by the engine through different processes of energy generation. Working with universities also supports our applications for federal grants.


We want to play a leadership role in the development of the aerospace industry in Queretaro. We want to accomplish a vertical integration with all the SMEs in the region to participate in high-added-value products for the aerospace industry.


Q: How has the pandemic changed the way ETU operates in Queretaro? What are the company’s new strategies?

A: The pandemic brought significant changes not only for ETU but for all companies globally. We had to change our structure and how we see the aerospace sector, which suffered the most globally because borders closed and airlines shut down. During this period, the structure of work also changed but home office was never an option for a manufacturing facility. We implemented different and new technologies and diversified within the industry.


Q: What are your expectations for recovery?

A: There are numerous theories about the recovery of the aerospace industry but they all depend on the global economy and vaccination campaigns. Vaccination also impacts borders; when travel restrictions are lifted the commercial aviation sector will reactivate. For the aerospace industry, the recovery is a long way away because the pandemic hurt the sector for a year and a half. Before the pandemic, the industry was growing at a double-digit rate and had a backlog of thousands of airplanes to be delivered in the next 10 years. After 2023, the industry will be better.

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