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Q: How has MUBEA grown its footprint in Mexico during its 21 years in the country?
A: We have grown exponentially since 2000. We started with a small plant in Arteaga, Nuevo Leon, and now we also have plants in Saltillo and the Celaya-Queretaro area.
MUBEA holds around 57 percent of the North American market share for powertrains with valve springs. We work with most OEMs in the region, although less so with Asian OEMs but we are strengthening our links with them. We have around 90 percent of the market share for connecting products and several powertrain projects in the R&D stage. In the EU, we sell a glass fiber suspension and carbon fiber monobloc that will soon come to the US and Mexico.
Q: What are your views on additive manufacturing applications for powertrain components?
A: MUBEA is working with different alloys for additive manufacturing in other segments. The industry is looking for lightweight products and alloys allow us to reduce weight while increasing the components’ performance. We produce the monobloc and fiberglass materials for powertrains.
Additive manufacturing also has a strong potential for interior applications. Interiors are also looking for composites with greater strength and less weight, while incorporating more sustainable components.
Q: How are carbon neutrality goals influencing your operations?
A: MUBEA has a global department committed to reducing our carbon footprint. Given that our business is based on steel components, it can be difficult to change our processes entirely. We focus strongly on making our equipment more efficient, on being energy efficient and on using sustainable renewable sources. In Mexico, we work with companies that use combined energy generation cycles.
Q: How is MUBEA getting ready for the electrification of the sector?
A: Our R&D centers are focusing on electrification and MUBEA will be introducing its e-mobility developments in Germany in the coming months.
ICE powertrains will not disappear because all technologies will convene. While the EU is more advanced in electrification given its infrastructure, the long distances in the US and Mexico complicate the advancement of this technology. Traveling long distances accelerates battery use and reduces vehicle autonomy. However, OEMs in Mexico are already investing in electrification. For example, GM’s plant in Ramos Arizpe is adapting its lines for electric vehicles.
Q: How have USMCA’s new rules of origin and labor standards influenced your operations?
A: Rules of origin have had little impact on our operations. By the time USMCA entered into force, we had had all of our guidelines in place to comply with the requirements. At the end of the day, rules of origin will continue to increase gradually but will have a stronger impact on maquila companies than on manufacturing companies. We were also complying with all the guidelines concerning labor standards before USMCA. We were also ready for the enforcement of the outsourcing reform because all our employees are hired directly.
Q: What are MUBEA’s plans for North America amid a third COVID-19 wave and supply shortages?
A: Our company’s vision is to continue growing. To date, we have enjoyed exponential growth. We started with a small facility in 2000 and now we have solid industrial complexes in the country with more than 1,000 employees.
The sector has not put the effects of the pandemic behind it, so companies should focus on keeping their employees safe. Moreover, chip shortages affect the entire supply chain even though components such as ours do not directly use semiconductors. Companies that are not prepared with effective adaptability strategies in their supply chains will face problems. Just-in-time schemes are no longer the best option given the complications the supply chain is facing. For instance, we used to bring raw materials from China in a four-week period but now that time has doubled. For us, planning used to be per quarter but our long-term planning is now about one-week long.
Mubea is a German Tier 1 supplier that has three facilities in Mexico, one in Ramos Arizpe, another in Saltillo and one in Celaya. Mubea manufactures coil, valves, springs, connecting and powertrain products.