Narrowing the Company Technology GapFri, 09/01/2017 - 13:35
Automotive is a highly technological industry but not all industry participants can afford to implement complex control projects. Regardless of their purchasing power, Gustavo Rojas, CEO of Grupo Gersa Monterrey, says smaller suppliers along the production chain will still have to assimilate new technology for project management, if only to comply with their clients’ requirements.
“A company without a platform that can clearly provide information about its key performance indicators is not reliable.” Although the CEO thinks technology integration in the Mexican market will take 10 more years before becoming a true standard, he has already found a way to help smaller companies become much more technology-friendly.
In between projects involving 100 robots or small manufacturing cells with just two or three robots, there is a niche that neither big automation players nor small local technology developers can address. “Global integrators are not interested in projects with 15-20 robots because of small profit margins, while smaller players cannot cope with their size and complexity,” Rojas says. Grupo Gersa has specialized in filling this gap. Along with automation projects, the company has created a business line focused entirely on software development. As manufacturing demands more connectivity and integration, Rojas says Mexico still lacks data-collection project implementation, especially at a midtier level, encompassing connectivity between machines and data analysis for production planning. “Data collection at a base-level, on the production floor, is required for manufacturing processes to work but midtier connectivity remains an unexploited practice for small companies.”
Grupo Gersa’s software development offers similar solutions to what clients might find in traditional manufacturing control and management platforms. But Rojas highlights that his company can offer much more flexibility than large software developers. “Communication with ERP platforms is generally rigid and there is little room for individualization,” he says.
The flexibility of Grupo Gersa’s system allows it to offer simpler solutions that can be much more cost-effective than a generalized ERP platform. This makes it affordable for smaller companies requiring less technology integration. Rojas explains that the standard company revenue to justify the integration of an ERP software like SAP or Oracle is about US$100 million annually. “But many successful players have lower profit margins and are not catered to by other solution providers. Our goal is to meet their needs.” Automotive companies now account for about 70 percent of Grupo Gersa’s client base. The company offers project integration solutions to small suppliers and to large companies like GM and Magna. The road to success has not been easy, though. Rojas explains that international investors tend not to believe in the technological abilities of Mexican companies, a complaint that is echoed by other national technology developers such as LOVIS Mexico. “Most clients only choose a local supplier when their budget is too low to contract a multinational player,” says Rojas.
To change this perception, Rojas has pushed Grupo Gersa to attain global quality certifications that prove what the company can really offer. Grupo Gersa is certified as a Value Provider by ABB, which puts Rojas and his team ahead of other competitors that act only as project integrators. The company is also certified by most of the original equipment manufacturers in the automation segment, including Rockwell, Siemens, FANUC and KUKA. Being certified by the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA), a group of 500 corporate members from 27 different countries, includes Grupo Gersa in a group of automation-project integrators that strives for an integral vision between engineering and business skills. Rojas explains that this certification has helped gain the trust of leading companies like Vitro that place CSIA standards above even their own auditing processes.