Salvador Icazbalceta
General Manager of Heller Machine Tools de México
Heller Machine Tools
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Higher Investment Delivers Optimal Results

Sat, 09/01/2018 - 10:17

Q: How does Heller Machine Tools stand out against its many competitors in the CNC equipment market?
A: Our best added value is our capability to deliver turnkey solutions. We do not only sell CNC equipment but analyze the client’s process and build the necessary engineering around it. Companies tend to buy machines from different providers when setting up their operations, which can result in missteps in the process. Heller’s manufacturing engineers, however, always work hand-in-hand with application engineers to achieve true integration.
Our goal is to deliver the best products to the customer so they can reach their own objective of producing at the lowest cost per part possible. At the same time, the main driver of our Mexican operations is to build confidence among existing and potential clients so they know they will always be supported not by a representative of Heller Machine Tools but by a proper subsidiary.
Q: What challenges have you found while trying to grow your presence in the Mexican market and target the growing local supply chain?
A: Our equipment is among the most efficient solutions in the CNC machining market. Our solutions deliver productivity, process stability and reduced downtime. All that requires a strong initial investment. For this reason, most of our operations are with global key accounts that already trust in Heller Machine Tools and see the value of our offering. Most OEMs, Tier 1 and Tier 2 companies are looking for the best in the market, which means they tend to seek out turn-key solutions.
The problem we have found in Mexico is that managers still tend to look at an investment only from a price standpoint. They look for machines with the lowest cost, resulting in operations that employ several machines from different providers. It is difficult for Heller Machine Tools to compete under these circumstances because we are not offering just a machine but a complete engineering service that entails a large price difference. There are many brands competing in the market and price wars can get really aggressive.
There is also a risk involved in trying to target smaller companies. Many of these players work from contract to contract and they do not have the resources to back up the investment needed to purchase our equipment when their projects get canceled. Even though we are trying to break into this market, our safest bet is still with large transnationals.
Q: How important is the automotive sector in your operations compared to other industries?
A: Heller Machine Tools is mostly dedicated to the automotive sector. Almost 60 percent of our business is dedicated to this sector, while aerospace represents 20 percent of our operations. The rest is divided among other applications. The key factor that has allowed us to build such a strong presence in automotive is our attention to detail when it comes to satisfying the clients’ needs. We have embraced new technology trends used by the industry, including the rising Industry 4.0 concept, but our main focus has been to reduce scrap and downtime when machining a component.
The automotive sector is highly demanding when optimizing production and we have managed to raise our standards to an 85-90 percent rate of efficiency in our equipment. Besides innovating in our technology, we have also integrated the best clamping, cutting and metrology solutions to boost our equipment’s performance. Our global objective in past years has been to maintain our yearly sales around €500 million (US$617 million). Our target remains the same but we want to make our operations more efficient, reducing manufacturing times without having to increase our payroll. Similarly, we are very open with the client and inform them if our analysis concludes that Heller is not the best fit for the company. That way, our engineering team does not build a proposal in vain.