Automation, HR, Supply Chain, Clean Energies Priorities for CLAUZBy Alejandro Enríquez | Thu, 08/05/2021 - 06:00
Q: What are the priorities for CLAUZ’s incoming new president and how is the cluster collaborating in these strategies?
A: The Cluster Council changed in June 2021. With this new administration, we seek to strengthen the actions of the automotive cluster as well as the impact that the cluster can have on the profitability of its members. The cluster knows that one of the main challenges for companies today is to increase and capitalize on existing capacities to increase efficiency while reducing costs. We need to make more use of integration and collaborative logistics. But we also have challenges related to the USMCA and the migration to zero-emission operations.
Q: How is the automotive industry addressing challenges such as the chip shortage and sustainability trends?
A: The pandemic disrupted global supply chains, not just those in Puebla, Tlaxcala or Mexico. The demand for semiconductors has also impacted many sectors due to the increased demand for computers, phones and other communication devices. In the automotive sector, there have been production shutdowns at Volkswagen and Audi, while companies in Mexico are handling the shortage as best they can.
The semiconductor shortage will continue to be a challenge because we do not know when it will end. We thought the pandemic was going to be over much more quickly but it has been more than a year. Although vaccination campaigns have made significant progress, a large percentage of the younger population, and the vast majority of employees, have not been vaccinated. Companies still cannot work at full capacity because the conditions are not yet safe. Automotive companies were among the first to be ready to face the pandemic. Now that there are better-operating conditions, companies want all workers to be vaccinated to be able to work at full capacity.
Q: Digitalization continues to present great opportunities, particularly at the lower end of the supply chain. How advanced are the cluster’s Industry 4.0 projects?
A: The cluster’s Innovation Committee is developing Industry 4.0 and automation projects to improve operational efficiency. We mainly seek to communicate the importance of digitalization. The committee also addresses clean energy issues and helps to create links between companies to reduce costs and move toward renewable energy. All OEMs have a strategy to reduce or eliminate their carbon footprint, not only in their operations but also in their supply chain. The goal is for the automotive sector to become a clean industry.
Q: What are the main strengths of the Puebla and Tlaxcala region and how has investment in the area increased in the last few years?
A: Puebla and Tlaxcala are both attractive regions for new investments. If we analyze the statistical data related to investment in the country, over 70 percent are reinvestments while over 20 percent are new investments. Tlaxcala has been more aggressive in attracting investment thanks to its outstanding industrial parks and attractive incentives for companies.
Puebla is also making strides in this direction. Even so, foreign companies are interested in the region. In mid-2021, we received a British company from the automotive plastics sector that wanted to invest in this region. There is a lot of interest because we are a safe area, unlike other states.
Q: What is the potential for the region to become an R&D hub?
A: Puebla has always distinguished itself for its technological universities and renowned educational centers. After Mexico City, we are the state with the largest number of educational institutions. That said, there is still a great deal of potential to develop specialized technology centers. We need to support the education sector to address our gaps in comparison to other countries.
The Automotive Cluster of the Center Region Puebla-Tlaxcala (CLAUZ) brings together companies, government entities and academic institutions to work on a common plan to increase competitiveness in both states.