Elisa Crespo
Executive President and Adviser
Automotive Cluster of the State of Mexico
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Incoming Challenges Demand Collaboration

By Alejandro Enríquez | Sun, 03/08/2020 - 07:00

Q: How is the cluster supporting the development of appropriate talent to address the 4.0 revolution in the automotive industry?

A: Dassault Systèmes, one of our company members, just donated 30 3DEXPERIENCE software licenses for 3D design and simulation valued at US$15 million to the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico. The reason behind this was for the academic community to master the Industry 4.0 language, which is now commonplace. The State of Mexico has a large population that can be channeled toward engineering and this is a perfect way to start incorporating them into manufacturing activities. 

This was one of our flagship projects and today it is done. Coming from the private sector, this level of investment is quite extraordinary. We want to make the automotive industry a trademark in the State of Mexico and become the leading developer of human capital in terms of innovation and Industry 4.0.

Q: What are the main challenges and opportunities USMCA will bring to the automotive industry in the State of Mexico?

A: First, we must understand the changes to the current regulations. The human factor will play a key role in this process, as we have staff turnover of people who understood NAFTA and now, we have new generations trying to understand USMCA. We need to reach an understanding of what these changes will bring and whose responsibility it will be to implement them.

The State of Mexico and its automotive cluster have been working to help companies understand the new trade environment. We have a workshop on foreign trade, where we go from general terms to the specifics of USMCA and its new operating regulations in the automotive industry. No other state in the country is doing this. 

Q: What are the main gaps in the State of Mexico’s supply chain and how is the cluster helping to bridge these?

A: The cluster is working to find the best financing strategies to support companies that are certified but lack the capital to respond to clients’ demands. In terms of gaps, labor is still one of our main issues, including employability, staff turnover and finding people with the right expertise. In today’s environment, inclusiveness has also become a factor to consider. 

Q: What opportunities does the arrival of BMW to San Luis Potosi and Toyota to Guanajuato create for the State of Mexico?

A: These investments speak of the continuous development of the Mexican supply chain and its effort to transform according to current needs. This also means we need to generate more suppliers and reinforce those already here. Producing a vehicle with an internal combustion engine is not the same as providing components for electric vehicles that deal with completely different materials. The challenges are countless for the Mexican automotive industry. 

We are doing our best to help our suppliers move forward in this transformation without losing their competitiveness or resources. Certification schemes are the same but training is essential to learn about these new trends. We collaborate with companies like Ford, allowing us to better serve our company members. We also follow a transversal agenda with more than eight work sessions per month with our different committees, as well as quarterly meetings with company chairmen and CEOs to bridge the communication gap. We are identifying the industry’s needs and the suppliers capable of addressing them, while trying to attract new investments. 

Q: What will be the role of the Automotive Cluster of the State of Mexico within the National Automotive Cluster Network?

A: Each cluster’s role is to collaborate without losing the autonomy and strength of its own region. We welcome an organization that provides transparency to our operations. The National Automotive Cluster Network will provide visibility to all our members from the State of Mexico, Puebla, Tlaxcala, San Luis Potosi, Queretaro, Guanajuato, Nuevo Leon, Coahuila and Chihuahua, while promoting the industry at a national level. The network also helps us to put on the table projects that have been success stories in certain regions to have a national projection and so increase their impact.

The Automotive Cluster of the State of Mexico has the goal to potentiate the development of the national automotive sector through the localization, targeting and linking of companies with the objective of promoting innovative and high-impact automotive projects

Alejandro Enríquez Alejandro Enríquez Journalist and Industry Analyst