Miguel Arias
Director General

Mexico-Made Software Faces Local Challenges

Sun, 01/05/2020 - 05:00

Despite the advantages that innovation may provide automotive manufacturing operations, Mexican companies tend to wait for the technology’s efficacy to be tested elsewhere before implementing changes. “Mexican companies do not implement new technologies as a strategy to adopt best practices or even to reduce costs but because their clients or new norms require them to do so,” says Miguel Arias, Director General of metrology software company Polyworks Mexico, unit of the global company Innovmetric based in Quebec, Canada.

All production processes suffer variations due to changes in variables such as temperature, machine wear and human contact, which may lead to production mistakes even if processes are robotized. To deal with this situation, Polyworks family of metrology software solutions help to identify and correct these changes. This ensures that parts meet clients’ dimensional specifications, which works to the advantage of both OEMs and suppliers. “A defective component can stop an assembly line and cause substantial losses,” says Arias. “Investing in quality-control technologies to reduce variations works to the advantage of automotive suppliers because they do not have to deal with component rejections or rework components.”

Using the right metrology software can also go a long way to helping automotive suppliers diversify by delivering quality components. “Automotive suppliers that deliver products of outstanding quality tend to be hired to supply more than one company, which reduces the risk of depending on a single project,” Arias says.

However, adoption of Polyworks’ software solutions among Mexican clients has taken longer than what Arias expected, although there are factors that could offer the company an edge. Several OEMs, including Daimler, BMW and Audi, as well as Tier 1 suppliers like Continental, Calsonic Kansei and Bosch already use Polyworks in their operations. “Trust from these players can boost the implementation of our solutions among Tier 2 to Tier N suppliers based in Mexico because their clients demand greater quality control,” says Arias. Automotive suppliers tend to emulate the best practices from industry leaders to improve their own processes. The implementation of a single platform like that of Polyworks allows all players to communicate in the same language, which strengthens the whole value chain.

One of the main challenges that Polyworks must overcome to take advantage of this opportunity is training metrology specialists in using the software. “Our platform offers several tools that work to the advantage of metrologists but they need to understand how to use these,” Arias says. Polyworks has focused on offering training to users and on strengthening its technical support capacities. “These steps are necessary to help users understand how they can automate measurement and reporting processes through our solutions,” he says. These courses also help companies to learn about the new updates that the company launches each year and the future products that Polyworks has in its pipeline. “We expect Polyworks’ new solutions for desktop computers to be adopted in 2020 in Mexico,” says Arias. “However, the new cloud and augmented-reality software could take up to four years to be adopted in Mexico.”

Mexico plays a key role in the development of these new features, according to Arias, despite the resistance of local players to adopt the newest solutions. “A substantial portion of our cloud software was developed at Polyworks Mexico’s offices in Puebla and the augmented-reality solutions that will soon reach the market are being tested in Queretaro,” he says. The company will hire software developers for the company’s development center in Puebla and R&D Queretaro unit as new development projects reach the country.

According to Arias, the future of metrology software solutions for the automotive industry is in the cloud. “Cloud technologies enable companies to store their Big Data online and have it readily available for analysis, which is a great advantage for metrology departments of large automotive suppliers,” he says. The company is betting on developing advanced cloud software solutions that allow for trend analyses of production projects. “Automotive companies often have several large production lines where many distinct variables are measured, so centralizing all information can help plant managers to detect, fix and prevent errors.”