Felipe Villarreal
CEO of Alian Plastics
Alian Plastics
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Certifications Are Worth It

By Alejandro Enríquez | Tue, 01/14/2020 - 12:43

Q: How has the arrival of new companies to Nuevo Leon influenced Alian Plastics’ operations?

A: We are looking for new projects to participate in this expansion. We have also started diversifying our operations across different industries. It is not easy, despite having high-tonnage presses that not everybody in Nuevo Leon has. It took us a year to close a project with the HVAC company Carrier, but after our success we will now explore aerospace and industrial plastic-injection applications.

Q: What advice can you give to Mexican companies wanting to participate in global supply chains?

A: Local companies need to understand the necessities across different industries and how they can contribute to fill in the gap in foreign companies’ supply chains. It is essential they are aware of their capacities and what makes them a viable option. Participating actively in their cluster can also make a difference. CLAUT has been very supportive in helping companies in areas like sales, quality and engineering. By taking advantage of these opportunities, companies can offer the competitive costs that the industry demands.

Alian Plastics has been really active in CLAUT’s events and trainings. We have improved our sales department to understand our clients’ needs better. Also, we are playing an active role in regional and national events to present Alian Plastics’ high-quality pieces and demonstrate our installed capacity.

Q: In a highly competitive segment such as plastic injection, what are Alian Plastics’ main differentiators?

A: Our certifications are our cover letter. Our quality system is IATF-16949-certified. We are also certified by the UL, which backs up material traceability. For plastic injection processes, it is very important to use the resin the client actually requires and with the UL certification we make sure we can track the material from the moment we receive it until the component is done. If there is a problem in the field or on the production line, we can track which resin it was and which supplier it came from. We also are committed to society and the environment. We are certified in ISO 14:001 and we follow Alian Plastics’ ethics code, which emphasizes an ethical environment to ensure solid commercial relationships with our customers and suppliers.

Q: What opportunities have you identified among local suppliers and what opportunities will USMCA bring?

A: None of the resins we use are Mexican. This is a major opportunity since we cover logistics costs to import materials from Italy and the US, which also requires having an elevated stock to keep up with just-in-time expectations. USMCA will introduce new challenges for export procedures. We will still pay tariffs, and due to all the new procedures, wait times at customs may increase, which will ultimately affect everyone’s operations.

Q: What role does R&D play within Alian Plastics’ operations and how has lightweighting impacted your operations?

A: The market where we play is really protective about its product development. We do not perform R&D from scratch, but develop new projects together with our clients. Once we have the design of the component, our commercial partners in different countries, such as Portugal, China, Canada, the United Kingdom and the US, can develop the molds from scratch. We then release the molds and develop the project to release the new component.

Since plastics are some of the lightest components in vehicles, there have been few innovations in terms of lightweighting. The type of resin used will depend on the component. However, the biggest impact from this trend is on steel-made components that are now being manufactured in aluminum.

Q: How has Alian Plastics embraced Industry 4.0?

A: In 2019, we implemented Industry 4.0 technologies at our plants. Each injector has its own tablet that displays the component being manufactured, its production number, who the customer is and when it is scheduled for delivery. In addition, we can see in real time the status of the machine, if it is programmed, when maintenance will be required, the amount of material it is using and, in case of failure, the reasons why it stopped. This is a determinant feature when clients come and see the plant. They are pleased by our quality and at the same time we are increasing efficiency and reducing costs.

Alejandro Enríquez Alejandro Enríquez Journalist and Industry Analyst