A Foothold in Industry 4.0Thu, 09/01/2016 - 11:07
Q: How is FESTO maintaining its position among the leaders in automation in the Mexican market?
A: We compete with Siemens, Rockwell and Pepperl+Fuchs among other companies across a range of technologies. FESTO has evolved from managing a portfolio of 6,000 to 7,000 products solely directed at the pneumatic sector to handling 30,000 products ranging from PLCs to electric axels and sensors, to name just a few.
One of FESTO’s strengths is the development of its workforce. We channel resources toward acquiring and training the right people and since we develop our own hardware, it is easier for us to create alliances with universities. FESTO has adapted its branches across the country with individual training areas and groups, which allows us to pinpoint deficiencies and immediately look for ways to correct them. Through training centers we have been able to better understand the processes of specific industries to support our customers more efficiently. Each industry is different, not only in terms of processes, products and knowledge, but also in terms of mentality and language. Therefore, our sales force must adapt communication to clients.
FESTO’s didactic division trains clients to use our products, as well as other technologies, such as CNC, hydraulics and mechatronics. This division’s portfolio includes close to 35 seminars that help improve productivity, which is FESTO’s primary goal. The automotive industry is relatively homogeneous in terms of processes. FESTO develops products and solutions that fit several industry players. Subsequently, minor modifications can be applied depending on peripheral factors such as standards in the production process.
Q: How is the company pushing the boundaries of innovation to integrate better solutions into its systems?
A: FESTO has built a broad network in Germany, increasing our R&D capabilities. Although we invest heavily in these projects, the company also has agreements with multiple enterprises, such as the Universal Technical Institute, SAP and Siemens. Creating partnerships and developing seminars that support this technology trend, together with companies that have an important foothold in technology development, is crucial for our operations and the integration of Industry 4.0 products to the Mexican market. Companies are constantly trying to gain competitive advantages over their counterparts and Industry 4.0 is the next technological surge that will accomplish this. More advanced and controlled processes will allow companies to work around the clock, increase productivity and quality and lower costs substantially.
Our client portfolio includes multinational OEMs including Audi, Volkswagen, Bosch, KIA and BMW but smaller companies within the supply chain remain a concern. Multinationals have the resources to invest in their own training centers, which ease technological transitions, but smaller companies have more difficulties transferring technical knowledge to their workforce. That is precisely where FESTO’s support and services can make a significant difference. For the industry to become more efficient, everyone involved must evolve, so our focus cannot be limited to major companies.
Q: How does FESTO hope to develop its auto activities in Mexico?
A: The company will experience growth in 2016, as the automotive industry will continue to expand to cater to US demand. FESTO is already working with KIA, supplying equipment for its training center. We also have established close relationships with Audi, GM and Volkswagen. We have discussed a bilateral agreement with BMW as well, and FESTO is already supporting them to improve their processes and technology implementation through Industry 4.0 strategies.
The fluctuating exchange rate will add pressure and, as a result, the company is undergoing changes in its logistics model. Nonetheless, we have the initial hardware to accompany the transition to Industry 4.0 as well as the seminars that will transfer the knowledge. We predict that 2016 will be a profitable year for FESTO.