Bridging the Digitalization Gap One ERP at a TimeBy MBN Staff | Tue, 01/01/2019 - 13:38
Robots, automation and IT can help companies reduce production costs and increase productivity, but Mexican players are sometimes reluctant to try new technologies, according to César Chávez, Commercial Development Officer of Keyland. This prevents Mexico’s manufacturing industry from boarding the Industry 4.0 train. “There is a prevailing misconception that investing in technology is not profitable because software in itself does not generate income,” says Chávez. “When companies in this sector realize this is a mistake, the country will take a major step toward digitalization.”
The use of industry-oriented IT delivers savings, increases productivity and accelerates ROI by ensuring more visibility and flexible information management. However, Mexican companies’ resistance to be the first to try new technologies poses a challenge for companies like Keyland when marketing their solutions. “People think investing in IT is too costly, but industry digitalization is only a matter of time. The only question left is whether to be the first or last to embrace the change,” says Chávez. “Companies that invest in improving their manufacturing operations through IT will have an edge to compete. Those that do not will disappear.”
Keyland is a developer of ERP systems for industrial applications born from the need to develop IT solutions for the automotive industry. The company was created after Spanish auto parts giant Grupo Antolin ordered a software application for industrial optimization from Vector ITC Group. The solution was so successful that Grupo Antolin started using it at all its plants. The company eventually decided to create Keyland in partnership with Vector ITC Group to market industrial ERP systems. “Our specialization in software applications allows us to create and deliver solutions that support the specific needs of each industry,” says Chávez. In the case of the automotive sector, this means going after the flexibility that OEMs demand from their suppliers’ productive processes in order to grow.
According to Chávez, companies tend to first adopt an ERP for their operations and then move on to implement automation and robotics when boarding the Industry 4.0 train. To support clients during this transition, Keyland has developed algorithms to evaluate where a company stands technology-wise, how much and how long it will take for a company to reach its objectives through the implementation of new systems and when the company will see a return on the investment. “These evaluations help us understand how we can help client companies get where they want to be,” says Chávez.
But there is more to Industry 4.0 than implementing a piece of software, which is why Keyland is bringing in new suppliers to complement its solutions offering. “Our platform cannot meet all the requirements of clients on its own, so Keyland works to develop its supplier base to offer a more complete platform and reach more clients,” says Chávez.
Keyland expects to achieve significant growth in 2019, powered largely by sales to Tier 1 and Tier 2 automotive suppliers, although Chávez thinks stronger support from the government could help boost adoption of Industry 4.0 practices among companies that lack the financial resources to invest in the latest manufacturing technology. The company’s growth strategy for the year is focused on strengthening its collaboration with current clients and capturing new ones, mainly in the automotive industry. The company will benefit from the knowledge it can get from Grupo Antolin’s process and the implementation of technology in a leading auto parts supplier. In Mexico, all nine of Grupo Antolin’s plants use Keyland’s digital platform to improve their provision of resources and shed light on any issue that may arise. “Having the support of a world-class auto parts manufacturer helps Keyland easily launch and market its products within the automotive industry,” says Chávez.