Metrology Leader Sees Software Development OpportunityFri, 09/01/2017 - 12:47
Q: What role will Industry 4.0 play in the development of the Mexican automotive industry?
A: One of Mexico’s main advantages is its cheap labor but once Industry 4.0 becomes standard in all companies, production costs in Europe and the US might match those in Mexico. If this happens, the only option for Mexico to remain competitive will be to move past its initial image as a low-cost and nontechnological manufacturing hub. We have tried to change our clients’ mindset regarding technology, especially among SMEs, to accept and integrate it into their operations.
Q: How is Carl Zeiss innovating and participating in the latest manufacturing trends?
A: We want to participate by developing software that helps companies integrate Industry 4.0 practices into their quality processes. We have years of experience with hardware but Carl Zeiss’ future is in software and complex solutions that connect equipment and automate quality processes. We are looking for alliances and merging with different software and technology manufacturers to develop new products and new markets. We have a software development center in Munich to implement this strategy. WEB is an example of a software solution we developed to easily create statistical reports and to correlate data that allow for agile decision-making.
As part of our digital strategy, we are also building a web- store. Carl Zeiss has migrated its catalogs and all traditional operations to the web so clients can configure their solutions to meet their needs and receive quotations for new equipment accessories. Once Industry 4.0 becomes more prevalent, we want our equipment to be connected to an intelligent system that can schedule maintenance and repair operations in a predictive way without the need for human intervention.
Industry 4.0 is also present in our strategy related to 3D scanners. Digitalization is a megatrend in the automotive industry and coupled with additive manufacturing techniques, it teaches companies to become more flexible and efficient. 3D scanners provide enormous amounts of data that can be uploaded to the cloud, achieving greater interaction between the equipment, the design process and the component itself.
Q: How much did Carl Zeiss’ industrial metrology division grow in 2016 compared to 2015?
A: There has been a considerable increase in the acquisition of metrology equipment in Mexico. Between 2015 and 2016, Carl Zeiss enjoyed more than 50 percent growth in domestic sales. For 2017, we expect at least 25 percent growth. Metrology is becoming increasingly important in the Mexican industry. OEMs establish quality standards among their main Tier 1 suppliers and these companies transmit those standards to their entire supply chain, reaching even SME players.
Q: How important is Mexico to Carl Zeiss’ global operations?
A: Foreign investment has helped local industry evolve but the real development will happen once small and medium- sized Mexican players can add value to manufacturing. Companies will create their own research and engineering centers, leading them to export technology from Mexico. Carl Zeiss is committed to helping these players grow. We have a product portfolio that targets Latin America and stands out because it boasts lower prices achieved through cost- effective strategies. Our Latin American clients receive the same technology as our bigger collaborators but at more accessible costs. Providing financing schemes also helps to penetrate the market. We understand budget limitations can impede a company’s technological advancement. We created leasing options for clients that need the equipment but lack the immediate liquidity to acquire it.
The final alternative we offer to support clients is to become partners during their product-development process. We collaborate with research centers and have just opened a Demo Center in Monterrey fitted with our equipment, which clients can use as their own research center. Monterrey was our first venture, mirroring the region’s tendency toward innovation and entrepreneurship. Our goal is to have a Demo Center in every industrial hub in Mexico.