Material Technology for Heavy Vehicle Auto PartsBy Alejandro Enríquez | Mon, 12/14/2020 - 09:05
Q: What have been Eaton’s milestones in the San Luis Potosi area?
A: One of the milestones we feel prouder of is our commitment to our employees’ development. For over 18 years, we have created a community that lives the values and the culture of the company. Thus, every day, our employees demonstrate passion, transparency, efficiency, ethics, accountability, and learning for continuous improvement. For over six weeks per year, we focus on training our new hires so they get a clearer picture of what their responsibilities are, and the career growth they can achieve alongside the organization. We provide an average of 10 full scholarships and almost 50 with annual financial support for engineering studies per year and we have created 2 dual-education programs with 30 students each.
From a business perspective, we have expanded our plant twice, which allowed us to have more productive space and so more business, and we have implemented a logistics unit, which has helped us to free up room from the plant.
What all this means for us is that we keep evolving ourselves, thinking about our people as the heart of the company, which has been key for business growth. We believe this is helping us to bring our vision to life, which is “To improve the quality of life and the environment through the use of power management technologies and services.”
Q: How will USMCA’s new rules of origin influence Eaton San Luis Potosi’s operations?
A: The one USMCA new rule of origin that I would like to focus on is the increase in the amount of steel and aluminum from the USMCA’s region that we must use in our operations. Essentially, it has influenced our supply chain teams to increase their focus on new suppliers’ development in San Luis Potosi. To give you an idea, we currently have three partner companies that work within our facilities in San Luis Potosi that supply us with chemical substances, tooling, and MRO services. Their operations are strongly aligned with our processes and Eaton’s culture.
As a company, Eaton has a strong relationship with its customers, and we aspire to be the preferred supplier to our customers and channel partners. We do this by holding ourselves to the highest ethical standards in interactions with each other, our customers, our suppliers, and the communities where we live and work. How we get our results is just as important as the results themselves, and a key measure of our success. We take great pride in our reputation as an ethical business and the trust we’ve earned from our stakeholders.
Q: When it comes to advance manufacturing and Industry 4.0, what are Eaton San Luis Potosi’s milestones?
A: The name of the game is Industry 4.0. At Eaton, we have advanced a great deal in this regard at our different locations around the world. We envision Industry 4.0 as both operational and informational technologies, enabling autonomous production systems that are connected, optimized, transparent, proactive, and agile. Supported by an integrated ecosystem, the technologies are composed of augmented reality, rapid application development, autonomous robots, digital simulation, and additive manufacturing.
Specifically, at our San Luis Potosi plant, we have successfully implemented augmented reality that has allowed our Eaton global business leaders to perform audits through special lenses, and to oversee our operations, certifications, and the way the process is conducted. This is combined with real-time monitoring of specific equipment. At other facilities, we also employ exoskeletons that help our workers lift heavy products.
Eaton San Luis Potosi is also focused on state-of-the-art 3D equipment. We are manufacturing resin components in 3D, designed by our engineers who are using special resins. In fact, we have acquired a 3D-printing machine for metal, which can work continuously for several hours and which we use to produce high-quality metal components that can be hard to find.
Q: What was the Eaton San Luis Potosi plant’s approach to the pandemic?
A: The health and safety of our employees have been and continues to be a priority, and I could not be more pleased with how well our team is managing through the pandemic. We have implemented new safety protocols and best practices around the world that have helped to limit the spread of COVID-19 and keep our employees and communities safe. Additionally, Vehicle Group has been leveraging advanced Industry 4.0 technology to help its global operations safely navigate the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and continue to service its customers.
As soon as the San Luis Potosi City experienced the first case of COVID-19, we made sure to take care of our people, our community, and our plant. Our corporate offices provided a great deal of support, which included health supplies and standards like continuous sanitization, social distancing, checkpoints for all members entering the plant, isolation protocols, and all necessary measures to prevent any contagion.
I recall that as the pandemic hit the Mexican and the US markets, the industry saw a sales plummet in March and April. And between July and September, the industry started to show signs of recovery. Having said that, Eaton made the important decision to maintain operations during the COVID-19 crisis because Eaton products are critical to our global infrastructure, in our case, heavy-vehicle components.
Finally, COVID-19 really brought to light how valued Eaton is – we have played an important role in delivering mission-critical products to some of the most important applications in the world.
Q: What are the unique characteristics that allow San Luis Potosi to thrive as an auto parts manufacturing destination?
A: San Luis Potosi City is an emerging region in this regard. The state offers several advantages for a broad range of companies, such as short distances to industrial parks and affordable services; from a logistics perspective, public transportation provides easy routes for plant workers to get to their workplaces in a matter of minutes. We are four hours away from Mexico City, two hours from Queretaro City, and seven hours from the northern border. There are opportunity areas, of course, but compared with other states, the city provides great benefits overall.
Eaton San Luis Potosi started operations in late 2002. The plant has around 1,000 employees and is focused on manual and automatic transmissions for Class 8 and Class 6 trucks, clutches, and machined parts