Lean Manufacturing for Smart EngineeringThu, 09/01/2016 - 12:03
Q: How are you adapting your portfolio to meet the needs of the automotive and infrastructure industries?
A: We try to stay close to our customers to understand their needs and to develop the best solutions for them. Our competitors sell standard products instead of developing something specifically tailored to client expectations. Most products need to be adapted in countries like Mexico or Brazil to meet local energy and overall equipment requirements. This should be a priority for all companies in the market. We have a very broad portfolio of products in contrast to most of our competitors. This is a great differentiator, as our customers can purchase a complete solution from a single company. This aligns with market trends as companies try to reduce the number of suppliers they deal with.
Q: How have market preference for higher-quality products or low-priced solutions influenced IMI Precision Engineering's priorities?
A: In markets oriented to general automation, low prices are vital to remain competitive. But sectors that demand traceability and predictability such as the automotive industry, value our products’ higher quality. Most OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers prioritize efficiency and productivity as their main concerns so they do not mind investing in a solution that will eventually help them reduce operational costs.
Q: How have you lowered your production costs to deliver more cost-efficient solutions?
A: IMI Precision Engineering has a lean manufacturing strategy targeting reduced costs and more efficient production. Many lean strategies are being implemented and improvements are being made in our plants around the world. The best practices are widely shared within the group in our communication platforms. Another initiative the company is now working on globally is to improve our supply chain and invest in local production to reduce logistics times and costs.
Q: How popular have your design and 3-D engineering services been in Mexico?
A: We have a sound integration with our engineers in Brazil and North America, who help nurture our resources in Mexico. We have some of the most complete engineering solutions in the Mexican market for the automotive industry including die design, tooling simulations and pressing solutions. Local competition creates certain pricing challenges but offering a complete solution gives us competitive advantages. Some of our clients in Mexico are investing in engineering solutions but many perform in-house engineering, which incurs high fixed costs. We can offer a lower cost solution while clients can focus on their core business.
Q: What opportunities have you found for your products in Mexican industry?
A: The oil and gas sector is struggling due to low oil prices. Strong players like PEMEX are seeing their budgets cut as the government adopts a low-expense strategy. We have been affected as several projects have been put on hold. This volatility has attracted more private companies to the market, which expands resource availability and employment. Competition is good for the industry to obtain better processes, prices and quality. It also opens an opportunity for us to work with companies that were already IMI Precision Engineering partners in other regions.
Q: What goals and partnerships do you need to establish to achieve your projected development in Mexican industry?
A: Mexico is one of the main priorities for the company. We are investing in our physical presence and developing our people to improve employment opportunities in Mexico. We want to develop our local structure as much as possible, focusing on local engineering and production. We developed a five-year strategy for IMI Precision Engineering in 2015 wherein we identified key developments for every market in which we are present. In line with that plan, we will launch pneumatic products for the industry automation market in 2017. We are already working with most automotive Tier 1 companies and OEMs in the market but we now wish to establish closer relationships with new automakers. In the infrastructure sector, we are focusing on the oil segment and now that the industry is open, we will try to get closer to new private companies.