Laserax, at the Forefront of Laser Marking TechnologyBy Andrea Villar | Fri, 04/16/2021 - 05:00
Q: What market strategies have been key to Laserax’s success?
A: When we were a much smaller company and wanted to focus on the automotive industry, we found that it was not easy to introduce new technologies in such a large sector. The first strategy we applied, and the one that has had the greatest impact over the years, is called The Bowling Pin, which I read about in Crossing the Chasm. Basically, the idea was to identify which is the first pin that needs to be knocked down to ensure market penetration. As we were initially based in Canada, where there are many aluminum smelters, we decided to first focus on these players before reaching the automotive industry.
We concentrated for the first few years on introducing our laser marking technologies, which were relatively new to the industry. This strategy was quite effective. If an automotive supplier saw a good laser-etched label and they needed something like that, they naturally sought us out. It was kind of a self-promoting technology. After that, the second strategy was to stay focused. You cannot build a company that wants to sell to everyone in the supply chain. We decided to mostly focus on big automotive key accounts. We built the company with that in mind and today 90 percent of our customers are mostly big companies in the automotive supply chain. Through this vision, we were able to focus and develop efficient strategies to be successful in this market.
Q: Why do automakers and auto parts manufacturers choose Laserax’s products?
A: There are mainly three reasons for this. The first, which was initially the reason why we entered the market, is the speed of the laser process. Productivity is key. People want to produce more with fewer resources and at some point, laser marking and traceability can become a bottleneck in the production process. That said, we developed the fastest laser marking solution in the market. What our competitors do in 2-3s, we do in under 1s, for instance. To this day, this remains one of Laserax's greatest strengths.
The second reason is that we are not just providing an instrument, we provide a global solution. We do work with local system integrators but we also provide, if needed, turnkey solutions for some complex projects where customers want more than just the laser marker. We specialize in automation, quality control and laser safety. These solutions are highly appreciated by our customers.
The third reason is that we have unique expertise in niche applications. With the new traceability standards, you want to apply the marking early in the process. We developed the necessary expertise to offer unique innovative solutions. By working with our partners and key accounts, we support them and provide them with the specific applications they may need.
Q: What challenges do you see in Mexico to increase market penetration?
A: COVID-19 has undoubtedly left a mark on the market and you can still feel it. Companies did not have the liquidity to spend on certain products. What we see is that a lot of them are focused on short-term solutions rather than looking for long-term options because of the market dynamics right now. Leaving COVID-19 aside, there are perhaps three things that are more specific to the dynamics of the Mexican market.
The first is human error when talking about traceability. With the new standards in the industry, one of the key elements is to remove human error from the process. For example, you do not want to have an operator entering the codes because they could make a mistake when typing in a serial number. Typically, the Mexican market, when compared to others like the US, still has a lower level of industrial automation. This is improving but there is still an issue with customers that want to bet on new programs but need to remove the potential human error from traceability.
A second challenge is data management. Companies need an IT system that is capable of managing all the data and automate the traceability process so if something goes wrong, they can identify where the error is. These systems are either not yet installed in most Mexican companies or are being implemented at the same moment as the laser marking equipment. Although companies are addressing this challenge, they are lagging far behind.
Lastly, there is quality control. Tier 1s and OEMs are more and more rigorous in terms of quality control, specifically when it comes to ensuring perfect traceability. The laser marking itself is just one element among many others to achieve good traceability and quality control. Mexican companies still need to improve in this regard.
Q: How are local partners helping you grow in the Mexican market?
A: In the automotive industry, you need to be able to guarantee very rapid and efficient aftersales service and technical support. We have offices in North America and Europe, while in Asia we lean 100 percent on our qualified partners. Regardless of the country or region, however, we always want to have someone who speaks the local language to make sure that our service is efficient and that the seller understands the local culture, which is different in every country. Regarding our partners, we tend to lean on those that are technically capable. Our two biggest partners right now in Mexico are companies that certainly can offer this technical expertise. We are in a business where we need to be very fast and proactive in supporting our customers and having qualified partners is key.
Laserax provides the manufacturing industry with cutting-edge laser marking solutions. The company, founded in 2010, is present in more than 20 countries with 54 partners around the globe.