JONES Plastics: diversified portfolio is key for growthBy Alejandro Enríquez | Tue, 02/09/2021 - 11:28
Q: In which industries does Jones Plastics participate the most?
AV: Historically, the largest industry we participate in is home appliances. When we started our operations in Mexico, it became obvious that the automotive industry presented greater opportunities than home appliances, however. Consequently, more than 10 years ago, we became IATF-certified at our plant located in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, which allowed us to grow in the sector. Today, between 28 and 30 percent of our total sales from our Monterrey plant are in the automotive sector. We have two plants in Mexico, our plant in Monterrey and another in Ciudad Juarez. At the corporate level, the automotive sector represents between 12 and 15 percent of our total sales and it continues to grow.
Q: How do your facilities in Mexico help Jones Plastics operations in the automotive sector?
AV: They help us greatly. Even though Nuevo Leon only has one OEM plant, there are assembly plants that belong to other OEMs such as FCA or GM in the Saltillo, Coahuila area. Consequently, there are several Tier 1 companies in these areas. Our location, very close to many of those Tier 1 companies, has been a determinant factor. Certifications and our performance help us to grow our accounts, but the location remains key. DENSO and MAGNA are key partners to increase our automotive footprint. These companies belong to the Top 10 of global Tier 1 companies. They have been our allies in diversifying our automotive customer base.
We arrived in the country following a suggestion from one of our customers. This was a great chance for us. After eight years, we opened our second plant in Ciudad Juarez. Now, our two operations in Mexico sell more than our three operations in the US.
Q: In a highly competitive segment such as plastic injection, what has helped Jones Plastics to stand out?
JC: One factor that has helped us is being close to our customers, which ensures flexibility. If a customer needs assistance, we are 30-60 minutes away from them. Also, our certifications potentialize our leads. IATF shows our commitment to quality and customer satisfaction. The latter is of the utmost importance for us and we replicate this quality and service mindset throughout our plant. Our commitment to our customers is to do the impossible to support them. We also comply with all required PPM standards and 100 percent on-time deliveries. To prepare for any eventuality, we have our dual-source strategy, so if any supplier suspends operations due to the virus, we have a backup plan to keep our supply chain active.
Q: What are the challenges to developing lean manufacturing processes at plastic injection companies?
JC: Having a leadership mindset remains a challenge. A key differentiator for us is that we can manage changes in models in 30 minutes when the sector was used to changes that could last up to 200 or 300 minutes. We have implemented an SME approach, following lean manufacturing guidelines, which has reduced times considerably. Our goal is to make these changes in a single-digit time frame. Another tool we use is mistake-proofing, which is rarely used in plastic injection for automotive applications. The concept uses sensors and other related technologies to keep the machine from underperforming.
Q: Due to the pandemic, some companies have chosen to increase their levels of automation. How are you approaching this situation?
JC: We are already exploring Industry 4.0 technology to further automate more processes. However, this is a path we have previously walked. We have robots at each of our stations while managing real-time KPIs and additional indicators that show how the production plant is performing. There are still opportunities to grow our participation in this regard; we are just getting started.
Q: What is the added value of Jones Plastics’ engineering operations?
JC: Engineering operations are part of our competitive advantage. If our customers require it, we can design components and molds for turn-key projects. Our design engineering team is located in the US.
AV: We have strong capabilities in pre-production services in terms of simulation, optimization, and mold manufacturing. These processes allow us to design more efficient operations even before they start.
Q: How will the USMCA impact Jones Plastics’ operations?
JC: Ninety-three percent of our resin suppliers are in North America. Besides, one of our strategies as a company is to develop local suppliers to grow our local content even more. With this new treaty, Jones Plastics envisions that all operations in Asia could be transferred to Mexico. Many Asian companies are already migrating to Mexico and we should take advantage of this.
One of the greatest opportunity areas for local resin suppliers is to make themselves visible. Out of the approximately 60 suppliers we have, just one is from Mexico.
Q: How will Jones Plastics continue to adapt to industry trends?
AV: We will continue to diversify our portfolio as we have already diversified our supplier base. In the automotive sector, in particular, we need to remain flexible to adapt ourselves to the coming changes in the sector, including the new rules of origin established by USMCA. Other changes are more disruptive, such as electric and autonomous vehicles that are increasing their footprint in the sector. The latter will imply a paradigm change in mobility wherein new kinds of vehicles are designed to transport a greater number of people as the necessity for a personal vehicle diminishes. The impact of these trends will undoubtedly change the market.
As part of our growth strategy, we are also diversifying processes. A year ago, we inaugurated a plastic painting plant, which is our third facility in Mexico. Painting is a new process for us in which we are confident we will ramp up operations quickly. In an ideal scenario, we will have a similar facility in Monterrey. We have successfully adapted to disruptive changes in the past. The best example is transferring our operations to Mexico where we have more sales than in the US
Jones Plastics & Engineering is a US company with more than 20 years in the Mexican market. The company has two plastic injection facilities in Monterrey and Ciudad Juarez and one painting facility in Ciudad Juarez