Local Players Strengthens Its Manufacturing FootprintThu, 09/01/2016 - 20:57
Q: How far along is the construction of Beccar’s new plant in Zapotlanejo, Jalisco?
A: The project is progressing but it is not yet complete. We have finished constructing the patios and avenues and we are now starting with the infrastructure. This will be a 5,280m2 facility and construction will be completed this year. Afterward we plan to begin installing the equipment to start operations by the end of 2016.
Our production is planned to satisfy the demand of our current models. We do have a couple of new units in the pipeline, one of which is larger than any other bus in our production line. This unit would be for the coach segment and will probably be released at the beginning of 2017. The other unit is a minibus and we already have some clients interested in acquiring it.
Both the URBUS and the URVIABUS have been consolidated in their design. These models are now third generation, featuring some changes to the front and rear and a new type of assembly. Our previous designs were somewhat square, so we are moving back to a more curved approach. This offers a cleaner and smoother image, which also makes our clients’ cleaning and maintenance operations easier.
Q: What are Beccar’s plans for technology and automation integration in its new plant?
A: Beccar is about to receive a new laser-cutting machine to replace our old equipment. We are implementing a tool dispenser system to ensure punctual processes. This is similar to a system that many automotive OEMs already manage, where each employee can access the system with their ID number and get the materials they need for their operations. This will help us be more efficient by controlling time and resources spent at each stage of the process.
We are striving to increase production volumes to between 1,100 and 1,200 units and expect to close 2016 with a total production of 1,000 vehicles. There are certain initiatives still in the pipeline but these are projects we have not yet developed. The market is cyclical and just as there are moments in which our installation capacity is not enough, there are others when demand slows. We learned to balance our production to remain active throughout the year.
Q: How involved is Beccar in the maintenance and repair operations of its existing client base?
A: We have a specific department that focuses on these operations directly with clients and follows their specific schedule. Each unit has to be checked at least every six months unless the client calls first to request a special revision. Our direct clients are OEMs and distributors but we always offer our services to final users. With every fleet composed of 10 to 20 units, we always offer a lecture on the most important mechanical and maintenance issues, particularly for powertrain components. This has helped us gain our customers’ trust as we adapt to affect their operations as little as possible.
Q: How do chassis and powertrain renovations at OEMs affect Beccar’s operations?
A: Every time a company changes its powertrain technology and dimensions, our own models have to be adjusted accordingly. This proves to be an advantage for Beccar as all our design and engineering capabilities are managed in-house. We do not depend on external suppliers. This allows us to adapt to our clients’ time frames. Nonetheless, growing demand represents more work for Beccar, resulting in extended delivery times. This is positive because it shows guaranteed business for a certain period, even though it limits our capacity to attract new customers.
Q: How does this process relate to the renovation strategy of each fleet manager?
A: We have established relationships with companies that manage their renovation process progressively, updating their entire fleet within an extended time frame of approximately 10 years. Annually, these customers acquire 100-150 new units, which we can program throughout the year. Apart from these projects there are also tenders and business directly with owner-operators, but we have seen an emerging trend toward more organized renovation plans.