Education Key for Sustained InvestmentSat, 09/01/2018 - 12:47
In an uncertain economic and political environment, maintaining competitiveness is crucial to incentivizing foreign investment. Understanding the role education plays in company development is the basis for further industrial development, according to Elisa Crespo, Vice President of the Automotive Cluster of the State of Mexico.
“Companies should make continuous improvement a must, both in quality of products and processes,” says Crespo. “Talent development should be one of the utmost priorities, together with technology integration, particularly as it relates to Industry 4.0 applications.” Just like other clusters, the State of Mexico sees supply chain development rooted in human capital growth as a key element in growing the national industry. Although the Automotive Cluster of the State of Mexico has only existed for five years, its members support an industry with over 30 years of experience in the region and for Crespo, the roadmap toward competitiveness is to understand how talent can participate in technology integration and what is known as Manufacturing 4.0.
“When talking about technology integration, we must understand how knowledgeable workers are regarding new technologies and their implementation in manufacturing processes,” says Crespo. The cluster is working together with training centers to develop adequate programs for technology implementation, including a Technician in Robotics program created along with ABB. “Other companies such as Dassault Systèmes and Siemens are equally interested in sharing their latest developments with the industry and with academia,” she says.
The cluster is also collaborating in the renewal of academic programs at R&D centers and high-tech institutions. “These players are bringing companies the industry’s latest technology and innovations and they know the cluster is their launchpad to a wider reach along the entire supply chain,” says Crespo. Moreover, the Automotive Cluster of the State of Mexico recently opened the Innovation Center for the Development of Human Capital, which according to Crespo, is focused not only on technology integration but also on continuous improvement education.
As the country moves away from traditional manufacturing operations and into higher added-value activities, companies and associations like the Automotive Cluster of the State of Mexico are learning how they can best support technology development and become an innovation hub. “The state has years of experience in the industry and that has given it the tools to lead the charge in innovation efforts,” says Crespo. She highlights an electric vehicle project developed by ITESM’s Research Center for Automotive Mechatronics as an example of how collaboration between the industry and academia has spurred innovation in one of the latest industry trends.
“The current administration has made collaboration between the public and private sectors a priority and because of that, we were able to participate as part of a business delegation at the Hannover Messe exposition,” says Crespo. This fair is one of the most important events globally related to innovation and technology developments and in its 2018 edition, Mexico made a strong statement by arriving with a delegation of over 100 companies and representatives of several states, including the State of Mexico. According to Crespo, the event was an excellent platform to attract new investment in several industry segments and even served as the setting to sign a collaboration agreement with the state government for the development of the automotive sector.
“Overall, the relationship between the industry, the public sector and academia is what drives the state forward and continues to attract investment to the region,” she says. Despite uncertainty regarding the current negotiations for a new NAFTA agreement and the intricate relationship between the US and the State of Mexico in automotive matters, Crespo is optimistic about the region’s future. “The US will remain our main market,” she says. “Having said that, the industry, the state government and academia have started to analyze and cultivate new relationships with other countries.” Germany, for example, has always been a good partner for the state, Crespo says, and the cluster is developing training programs to help companies adapt to the manufacturing practices and standards from the country.