Linking Manufacturing Operations to Business IntelligenceFri, 09/01/2017 - 13:23
Q: What advantages do Ixaya’s solutions offer automotive clients?
A: Ixaya adds value by managing both software and hardware solutions, while linking manufacturing operations to business intelligence. Other companies focus on equipment specialized in certain activities, which means adapting to the local market may turn out to be an expensive process. In contrast, we can modify our programmable logic controllers and equipment to operate just as the client requires, obtaining only the most relevant information regarding each process.
We are relatively new in the automotive market, with only three years in the sector. That being said, the company has 11 years of experience working on complementary systems for manufacturing and logistics operations.
Ixaya had already participated with companies like PEMEX and eventually moved into the automotive industry. This led us to the realization that most clients did not have a company that could provide the level of integration between software and hardware that we can manage.
Q: How has the company’s success thus far influenced Ixaya’s growth expectations in the automotive market?
A: Our sales in the automotive sector have grown between 120 and 150 percent year on year since 2014. They now represent approximately 30 percent of our business. We detect considerable growth opportunities with these types of companies and are collaborating with local players to increase our presence. Just like the automotive sector has OEMs, Tier 1 and Tier 2 players, we act as a direct link with our clients while incorporating smaller developers that strengthen our operations. We integrate their solutions and adapt them to the automotive industry.
Our biggest opportunity to develop is with Tier 1 and Tier 2 companies. OEMs are not forthcoming when it comes to sharing their software and ERP solutions, so it is more difficult to enter that market. But they are not closed to integrating other solutions that complement their current systems, especially when it helps suppliers integrate their operations. As Tier 1 companies become more technologically oriented, Tier 2 and Tier 3 companies look to emulate these players, making our integration process easier.
Q: How easy is it for Ixaya to integrate its solutions with competitors’ ERP software?
A: Depending on the company’s level of integration we can offer a specific alternative to meet its requirements. There are companies that solely use Ixaya’s equipment, while others only activate our automatic data-collection solutions to complement their manufacturing solutions. Our systems are certified by all major ERP’s in the market including Oracle, SAP and even Microsoft Dynamics.
ERPs are transforming from a physical system to a Cloud- based application, allowing companies to integrate their operations around the world. Many Tier 1 suppliers are looking for a way to connect these Cloud solutions to their local devices but lack the experience to do so. These hybrid architectures allow us to link directly with the ERP, offering an alternative to our Tier 1 and Tier 2 clients.
Q: How can Ixaya support its clients in business intelligence activities?
A: Many companies see business intelligence as static reports without any added value. However, the benefit of business intelligence is to mix previous data to generate new information that can help your operations. Ixaya merges all the metadata generated by ERP software and consolidates it for the final user.
Big Data is an important area of opportunity for many companies that did not know how to take advantage of the information they were generating. The future of manufacturing is for all equipment to be integrated,
transferring relevant data to the rest of the supply chain. Communication between clients and suppliers allows the process to be automatically adjusted.
The Six Sigma strategy implemented by Toyota is based on managing only the necessary components to manufacture the product. Data collection and process integration ensure effective resource management. Technology integration is also a good strategy to prevent future problems, and its constant monitoring leads to productive maintenance and an effective decision- making process.
Q: What other integration opportunities exist between Ixaya and its fellow software-developing companies?
A: We are collaborating with Guanajuato’s government to create an IT cluster so Ixaya and other companies can offer integral solutions to potential clients. Many companies are creating automation solutions locally that do not generally reach the market. Breaking into the automotive industry is challenging, so we offer these players an entrance, while ensuring the client gets the best solution with guaranteed quality. We are one of seven companies leading these efforts.
We also have operations in Salt Lake, Utah where we are also collaborating with other local companies to complement their services. In the US, we mostly focus on general manufacturing activities but eventually transfer all knowledge to our automotive operations.
Q: What challenges do you see in being a technology development company in Mexico?
A: The most common barrier for software companies in Mexico is patent generation. Software cannot be patented here since the Mexican Institute for Industrial Property does not consider these products an invention. Without
protection, other players can simply copy what you have created, which blocks the company’s development strategy. I am not completely against this idea because I believe technology should be access-free. Source code should be protected by copyright but not the idea itself. You can patent software in the US and that has allowed companies to commercialize many products. But this has also opened the door to “patent trolls” that only protect an idea without creating a solution.
Another obstacle startups face in Mexico is getting funds and investors. When a company in the US fails to generate funding, it pivots and creates a new product from the original idea. This leads to what is now called a “unicorn” company, listed in the stock market and valued at more than US$1 billion. But initial public offerings in Mexico are expensive and even though there are a few financial structures like stock market promotion companies (SAPI), it is complicated for startups to participate in the Mexican stock market.
Funding is more traditionally managed in this country and companies depend on the government or a bank trusting in their idea. The only other option is to get funding by selling your products but during the developmental phase, this is difficult. After 11 years in the market, we know it takes us around four years to start selling any new idea we generate. Therefore, we try to create new products every two years to compensate.
A collaborative environment is also necessary to promote research and development. Silicon Valley and other regions in the US have successfully fostered innovation through co-working and networking, creating opportunities for companies and entrepreneurs to integrate their solutions with complementary ideas. Although we have a similar approach and some of our solutions are open source, Mexico is still quite protectionist in that sense.