Q: What is Zeiss’ history, both globally and within Mexico, and how is the company pioneering in the world of industrial metrology?
A: Zeiss has a history of almost 170 years, with more than 100 of those years in Mexico, and the company is continuously growing and renewing itself. Zeiss has 24,000 global employees, with 10% of these located in our lens manufacturing plant in Tijuana. Zeiss has many divisions, the newest being the Semiconductor Group where our lithography optics enable semiconductor manufacturers to produce ultra-high-performance microchips. Zeiss develops technology that will be used in many sectors, such as health, optics, electronics, and industrial metrology, which is a very important segment for us. In terms of industrial metrology, today there are around 800 operational machines within the country for which we have a strong service team working with our customers on a daily basis. However, our goal is to reach 1,000 machines in 2015. Therefore, we have changed our philosophy in order to become a complete solution provider. From the beginning of the process, we advise companies on how the measuring plan should look. Later on, when they require measuring machines, we can configure them with the right sensors, software, and the necessary accessories, making the whole process as easy as possible. Once the machine starts acquiring the data, we include statistics and process control solutions so our equipment will immediately warn the customer when there is a quality risk of his product.
Q: Metrology innovations represent a large investment for automotive companies, so how does Zeiss reassure its clients of the benefits of this technology, while also adapting to their needs?
A: We have three certified laboratories available; one is ours and the other two are run by our business partners. This enables us to provide metrology services to clients that do not have the proper equipment. We have an agreement with CIATEQ to offer state-of-the-art technology to the market, including our new X-ray measuring technology, METROTOM. This system looks into the inside of the components and does the metrology process inside the part.
Historically, measuring machines used to be well-protected in a measuring room. However, ten years ago, Zeiss began to move the equipment close to the production line, which enabled us to provide a line of equipment that could withstand difficult situations without affecting the efficiency of the machine. Customers want faster and more accurate results in the line, so we adapt our strategy and we develop machines to satisfy these needs.
Q: How is Zeiss able to leverage its global relationships in order to serve the new OEMs and Tier 1 companies entering the Mexican market?
A: We adapt to the needs of the automotive industry and our global network is an important part of this process. We have already sold six machines to KIA’s new plant and our branch in Korea is preparing the software. Carl Zeiss de México will receive this project, complete the installation, and provide the technical support required moving forward. When we learn about any new project, we prepare before the OEM even starts building. We work closely with our branches in any country where the OEM is coming from, and we have everything ready two or three months before their arrival. Another advantage of our global community is that an international team stays with us for as long as we need. For instance, we are currently working on the foundations needed for our equipment in the new Audi plant in Puebla. During this stage we work with the architects and engineers to instruct them on any structural and disposition requirements for the equipment.
Q: What have been the most important challenges that you have had to overcome in the Mexican automotive industry?
A: Mexico is a very extreme country. If you go to the north, summers are extremely hot but a harsh winter ensues. Therefore, we need machines capable of adapting to this environment; we test them and guarantee their quality to our customers. In Mexico, we offer the MAX line products, which can be placed on the production line. One of them, the DURAMAX, is our starting machine, which is really popular with small companies because of its size, price, and features. It even includes the same software as the most expensive machines in the line. Another popular product is our CenterMAX equipment, which has micron level accuracy and is very popular with OEMs for engine and gearbox manufacturing. Our equipment works at high speeds, significantly increasing the testing rate of products.
Q: How important will Mexico continue to be for Zeiss in 2015 and in the near future?
A: Mexico is truly important to Zeiss International. Since the country is considered an rapidly developing economy, we know it is where we need to fight for the market. The country will continue to have important investments in the automotive sector, and I am confident we still have two or three abundant years in the industry. There might be fluctuations during this period as Mexico is always dependent on the US economy, but we are prepared to change our strategy according to the situation.