Victor Fuentes
Director General
Mitsubishi Electric
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View from the Top

Efficiency the Thread That Connects Operations

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 22:57

Q: How conscious are companies of the role energy efficiency plays in productivity and process automation?

A: Certain companies struggle because outdated strategies hold them back from replacing old equipment. The machines continue working but not necessarily as efficiently as they did when new. After years of neglecting technological updates, they have missed steps that could have helped them improve their processes. Our philosophy is based on measuring, visualizing and administrating. As a basic engineering principle, you need to measure something before you can control it. Sometimes, clients know they have to reduce their energy intake but have no idea where to start, so we need to analyze the process and identify where they can improve.

What companies like Mitsubishi Electric experience is not resistance to change but ignorance about positive investments. Implementing cost-reduction strategies is not the answer if clients do not know how much they spend at each step of their process. But the Mexican industry is transforming as companies gradually become more aware of these opportunities.

Q: How does Mitsubishi keep pushing the boundaries of energy efficiency?

A: Efficiency is the thread that connects all our operations, including our e-F@ctory approach. The industry has to produce more with less and the energy market in Mexico has made this a challenge for every company as prices keep increasing. Our responsibility at Mitsubishi is to figure out how to provide adequate automation solutions that also reduce energy consumption.

Part of our job is to make all deficiencies clear to the client and to put a strategy in place that includes measuring, control and automation equipment. Each part of the manufacturing process has different priorities. The operators’ main concern is that the machine works correctly. For those at middle-management levels, their most important objective is to keep the entire production line running with adequate productivity. The administration is focused on operational costs and how much the company can save. Our e-F@ctory concept caters to all these elements, allowing companies not only to produce more but to know how much the current process costs them and how it could be improved. The platform also acts as a direct link with information technology and data administration. 191

Our “Eco Changes for a Greener Tomorrow” vision contributes to sustainability from our manufacturing process up to the moment we deliver our products to the client. We have implemented photovoltaic cells in our production and our motors are among the most efficient in the market. Those benefits are tangible to clients.

Q: How will these changes impact the role human capital plays in manufacturing operations?

A: Companies need to orient new investments toward their teams’ best interests. A talent development strategy must go hand in hand with the company’s growth expectations. Automation has undeniably impacted the need for employees but there is always an opportunity for people to develop alongside technology. Complications that are not in the handbook will always exist and that is where people have the best opportunity to contribute to process improvements.

There is untapped potential in Mexico to effectively use our talent pool. Mitsubishi Electric sees an opportunity to advance its presence in Mexico but we must first develop the appropriate technical expertise among our employees. We have worked with our people for three years and formed strategic alliances with the Autonomous University of Aguascalientes. This enterprise aims to ensure the latest technology is available to students, so they can grow in line with the industry. Research makes new products obsolete after two years, thus our collaboration must be continuous.