Juan Alcide
Vice President and General Manager of Gill Industries
Gill Industries
View from the Top

Changes in Demand Alter Production

Sat, 09/01/2018 - 10:58

Q: How important is Mexico for Gill Industries’ global operations?
A: Up to 45 percent of Gill Industries’ revenue comes from its Mexican operations. The largest investment that Gill Industries has done worldwide since 2010 has taken place in Mexico. We have increased our market share in the country by 70 percent since we started operations in 2006 and continue to acquire new machinery to improve our manufacturing processes. The Bajio region has received several of these investments as Gill Industries sees great potential for automotive growth and development there.
Q: How has demand for lighter components impacted Gill Industries’ productive operations?
A: We used to work with highly resistant metals with thickness of 2.2mm but have started using martensitic steels with thickness of 0.5mm. Thinning of metal plates used for stamping has become an increasingly important trend in the global metal-mechanic industry. Gill Industries never expected to have presses of more than 1,000 ton in the 2000s because stamped products did not require the use of martensitic or dual-faced materials. Demand has shifted toward harder materials that require greater tonnage and tighter control of tolerances. Gill Industries will continue investing in servo-presses to be ready for these new materials.
Q: What impact has the wide variety of brands, models and versions had in Gill Industries’ operations?
A: Automotive used to be an industry where the same production platform was used for volumes of 350,000 to 500,000 units. The shift toward vehicle platforms used for volumes of 70,000 to 125,000 units has prompted suppliers to keep flexible processes and efficient manufacturing operations, while delivering competitive costs. The wide variety of vehicle options poses a challenge for manufacturing processes as companies move away from a scheme of robust, capital-intensive goods produced in large volumes toward more competitive processes.
Q: What advantages are there in collaborating with Tier 1s and OEMs in design and engineering?
A: The more collaboration exists between clients and suppliers, the more competitive manufacturing processes are. Clients that engage in design and engineering operations in Mexico such as Brose, Nissan or Ford help Gill Industries produce the components that the industry demands. We have increased our added value with our B2P frames and we continue with our production of second and third-row seats, as well as with development of new products for chassis and body-in-white processes. One of the main projects that we developed in Queretaro consists of a 2,000-ton servo-press that will enable Gill Industries to work with complex materials with low thickness. We want to integrate several manufacturing processes under the same roof since most companies only focus on welding, stamping or headrest production.
Q: What are the main challenges that Mexican suppliers face to participate in US automotive productive chains?
A: The main challenge for Mexican companies is investment. Like Gill Industries, many companies are focused on developing innovative manufacturing processes since Mexico can no longer be competitive due to low labor costs alone. Mexican companies should face fewer difficulties to integrate into US productive chains once the region is strengthened. We look forward to having more flexible US-Mexico trade that incentivizes investments in the medium and long term.
Q: As the automotive industry moves toward Industry 4.0 practices, what milestones has Gill Industries reached regarding process automation and digitalization?
A: Gill Industries’ most critical manufacturing systems are completely online so they can be monitored in real time. This helps us to make decisions more swiftly and have more information available for analysis so processes are improved.