Fidel Guajardo
Managing Director
Fronius Mexico
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Energy-Saving Philosophy Driving Welding Innovation

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 15:15

Q: What does Fronius offer to its Mexican customers, compared to other welding equipment providers?

A: Fronius established in Mexico in 2007, with an aim to support Volkswagen. Afterwards, the company acquired more contracts with national and international Tier 1 companies located in Mexico, like Metalsa in Puebla and Magna in Saltillo. At the beginning, our most successful equipment was TPS, which is a high-productivity process that later evolved into the CMT system. This product is a Fronius patent that enables welding of high-strain steel and high-quality aluminum, presenting a clear advantage for OEMs and Tier 1s. Volkswagen, Nissan, GM, and Chrysler all use CMT processes for all of their models, while Ford has declared it as its preferred welding process. Both TPS and CMT are MIG technologies used by 90% of all automotive companies in Mexico, depending on the application and the materials. We are now releasing TPS/i, which is the new intelligent evolution from the TPS system. We know technology is improving day by day, which is why we needed to provide equipment capable of developing it.

Q: How is Fronius positioning itself to attract new clients as new manufacturers are entering the country?

A: One of Fronius’ strengths is that we offer direct sales and service. Currently, we have one distributor and four regional offices in Monterrey, Puebla, Mexico City, and San Luis Potosi. Furthermore, given that the welding process used by OEMs is different to what you would find in any other shop, our technicians have received in-depth training from us or from our headquarters in Austria. Our technology has been proven to be more efficient than that of Nissan’s Japanese suppliers, resulting in a return on investment over a period of two years by reducing energy consumption and decreasing re-work from 80% to 5%, while maintaining the high quality and reliability of the process. Fronius continuously strives to achieve the perfect welding solution; we are passionate about arc welding and studying the DNA of the arc is one of our philosophies.

Q: Have you been involved in the promotion of electric vehicles in the Mexican market?

A: Fronius has a close relationship with European OEMs like Audi, BMW, and Volkswagen in terms of R&D. We are focusing on electric motion with BMW and our knowledge in battery charging has been an important asset in this development. Our goal is to help maintain a world that our children deserve. We are are a green company, we are in the solar energy segment, and we always strive for energy savings. For that reason, at an R&D level, we are contributing to the development of electric cars.

Q: How have relationships with international companies and CFE grown over the years, and how could these be further developed?

A: Ten years ago, every company made its decisions outside of Mexico, whether it was an investment, a new development or an R&D process. However, we have found that corporations finally understand the capability that Mexico has to make its own decisions. In terms of our relationship with CFE, we have a difficult challenge ahead of us. On the one hand we have a corporation that has ruled the energy market for a really long time. On the other hand, we have new reforms and legislations that have opened the energy market. There are those who want to hold on to their business, and there are others that want to take advantage of these new changes. Mexico is learning how to do business and federal entities are realizing that a new kind of competition is emerging.

Q: How ingrained has that energy saving philosophy become with your partners and customers?

A: There is an important green movement in Mexico, especially with OEMs. They are applying these principles and they are demanding that their suppliers use them as well. Volkswagen, for example, makes an analysis on how much energy the company is saving per month, and it also applies this with its suppliers. We have also noticed that Tier 2 and Tier 3 corporations that have invested in our equipment are now reporting up to 90% energy reductions as a result. We have established relations with OEMs through our welding equipment and, as a result, we are making new deals with our solar technology. We have agreements with Magna and we have a project with Volkswagen to build a solar-powered system for its plant in Puebla. About 70% of our revenue comes from automotive and, internationally, the industry represents 30% of our total income.