Fidel Otake
President
Guanajuato Automotive Cluster (CLAUGTO)
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View from the Top

Competitiveness Not a Solo Success

Thu, 09/01/2016 - 15:37

Q: What are CLAUGTO’s development plans as one of the chief automotive clusters in the region?

A: Studies have evaluated the relationship between companies and academic institutions to restructure academic programs and run parallel with industry requirements. Technical institutions and universities are our main targets because they educate large volumes of mechanical and industrial engineering students. Two additional concerns emerged in the field of human resources. Dignified treatment is not a commodity but a right. Proper organization has led to union creation, consequently strengthening the relationship between employees and companies. To reduce security concerns, protecting assets became an additional focal point for CLAUGTO. We created a special committee to oversee the security of our clients’ assets alongside the government. With their support, we can ensure protection through the enactment of legal guidelines.

Solidifying the industry’s supply chain is the cluster’s second priority. OEMs establishing operations in the region are followed by their close providers to guarantee just-in-time supply. After the Tier 1 supply chain is secured, a wave of Tier 2 and Tier 3 companies make their way to local markets. OEMs are legally responsible for a degree of local content integration, which makes the participation of Mexican suppliers more urgent. Service providers are equally important for OEMs’ operations, as they are an essential piece of the puzzle. From cleaning and cafeteria services to security and maintenance services, supply chain consolidation can take many years.

Q: What programs have Tier 1 companies initiated to develop and certify the rest of the supply chain?

A: CLAUGTO plays a key role in this endeavor. Every year, a supplier forum is organized in which both OEMs and Tier 1 companies present their needs to the industry. The idea is to improve the inclusion of local providers, although foreign companies play an important part in our forum as well and we take their input into account. International clusters have attended our supplier forum looking to broaden their understanding of Mexico’s automotive industry. Although some of their affiliates have a Mexican presence, they lack a deep understanding of the local market. This has led to joint ventures between Mexican and foreign providers, each offering their own expertise and technology.

Q: How much support has the government granted to improve and develop new human capital specialization programs?

A: Both Guanajuato’s Ministry of Education and the federal Ministry of Public Education (SEP)’s support has been essential. Through a series of programs and agreements, we have restructured local and federal academic courses to match the industry’s needs. The development of a dual education system has promoted theoretical and technical knowledge, which is especially important in manufacturing activities. After a deep analysis, the National College of Technical Vocational Education (CONALEP) and polytechnic institutions have adopted the dual system. We foresee others will follow, as the academic sector’s support has been top-notch all along. Linking students with companies is yet another advantage offered. We help solidify their professional development through apprenticeships and internships in a high-paced and evolving industry.

Engineer development is crucial for emerging economies, serving as a direct indicator that promises abundant manufacturing, innovation and technological activities. Under those circumstances, the industry’s goal is attracting young human talent, promoting sciences and increasing the attractiveness of those fields of study.

Technological innovation is as important for CLAUGTO as supply chain development. These processes must always accompany new company installations. Failing to achieve this can have substantial negative effects. CLAUGTO brings together manufacturing enterprises and their product engineering branches with industry research centers. Process innovation must top our agenda as internal innovation will boost our stance in the international automotive industry