Tomoaki Yoshino
President and Director General of JATCO México
JATCO México
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View from the Top

Mexican Operation Certified for Premium Component Production

Sat, 09/01/2018 - 13:01

Q: How has JATCO evolved in its production capacity and what challenges do you see to grow your operations further?
A: In 2017, JATCO reached production of 1.7 million continuously variable transmissions (CVT), which is our maximum capacity at our Mexico plant. Our goal moving forward is to maintain that same level of production and even surpass it if possible, reaching a total of 1.8 million units by the end of 2018. Additionally, we will also introduce a new CVT transmission model starting in January 2019. As a company, we want to contribute to Mexico’s economy and help the industry reach its goals of fuel efficiency and performance.
We export our products to China, Europe and even South Korea. That being said, the US remains our main market. We have to be aware of any changes in Mexico’s trade relationship with this country such as the current tariffs on steel and aluminum, which could potentially represent an increase in our costs.
Q: How have OEMs embraced CVT technology in their vehicles?
A: This is a complicated topic. Nissan has been open to our technology because the company worked closely with us to develop it. However, it has not been that easy to market our products to other companies. Still, in recent years, more OEMs have become interested in CVT transmissions, particularly for production of models destined to the European and the Chinese market.
JATCO has tried to maintain open communication with various vehicle manufacturers to show the benefits of its products. We have also participated in shows and expos and we have given several presentations in the US and China to ensure more clients understand what CVT can offer.
Q: What best practices has JATCO implemented to improve its Mexican operations?
A: As a Japanese company, we implement global best practices that follow our corporate standards and we work according to our own production system called JATCO Excellent Production System (JEPS). This methodology follows an optimization strategy or monozukuri that seeks to strengthen our operations right at the production floor. We maintain a constant goal of kaizen or continuous improvement, always keeping our personnel as a priority in terms of training and talent development. In 2013, we also started developing support personnel through a program called V-Up, which was created by Nissan in an effort to strengthen the company’s continuous improvement.
Q: What opportunities do you see for more local suppliers to participate in JATCO’s manufacturing chain?
A: Local suppliers wanting to participate in our production chain should be able to deliver the same level of quality as JATCO to consider establishing an alliance. Moreover, these companies must also ensure they are capable of delivering the right production volumes to support our operations. Overall, local companies should focus on four key elements or JATCO’s 4Ms to grow their participation with Japanese companies: materials, methodologies, machinery and manpower.
Q: What opportunities did the arrival of INFINITI offer JATCO in Mexico?
A: We started production of INFINITI components in December 2017. Supplying components to this company demands compliance with the highest quality standards. In 2017, JATCO went through several audits from Nissan and the new COMPAS plant and we eventually were cleared as a supplier for the new INFINITI production in Aguascalientes. Before these audits, we analyzed our manufacturing process to find areas of opportunity, which resulted in a much more efficient operation for all our production lines. Although we have several plants around the world, JATCO México is the second facility globally to receive a certification from INFINITI and the first in CVT production.