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Plastics Play Key Role in Automotive Lightweighting

Constancio Leal - Senoplast Mexico
Director General


Rodrigo Andrade By Rodrigo Andrade | Journalist & Industry Analyst - Wed, 02/22/2023 - 11:25

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Q: What makes Senoplast Mexico the best partner for companies looking to relocate their operations to the Americas?
A: Senoplast Mexico started operations over two decades ago, with the aim of building a direct relationship with US and Canadian companies thanks to NAFTA. Having operations in Mexico, allows companies outside the USMCA region to serve the North American market directly. We offer the best quality in plastics worldwide, which allowed us to reach new market niches. Even our competitors know they cannot compete with us on quality so they turn to lower prices. 

R&D plays a critical role in our success because we first listen to our customers' needs and then develop specific solutions for them. These products are tested by laboratories to ensure they meet the necessary characteristics demanded by the market. This direct closeness with our customers makes us an ideal partner for companies looking to relocate closer to their North American clients.

Q: What are the key factors behind the company’s success over the past two decades?
A: Our strong quality control process ensures that only verified plastic sheets leave our plant. We are capable of matching colors exactly, reproducing the same shade over and over again for a single customer. Our main market is in the sanitary industry. Even for something as seemingly simple as white colors, we have over a thousand shades to meet each customer's specific needs. Each shade is developed exclusively for a single customer and verified to ensure consistency over the years. This provides a unique advantage over our competitors, which cannot offer the same level of color accuracy and consistency.

Q: The company’s plant in Austria uses hydroelectric energy to power 90% of its production. What are Senoplast’s sustainability goals in Mexico?
A: Mexico does not currently provide access to this type of clean energy, which is a significant obstacle in achieving our sustainability goals. However, we are actively seeking solutions to address this issue. We have already started talking to companies that offer clean energy in Mexico but we have yet to form any alliances as we want to ensure a smooth and risk-free transition toward clean energy. 

Mexico’s automotive industry has been lagging in implementing sustainability policies and regulations, which is why we are doing our part to be at the forefront of sustainability initiatives. Once we see more favorable political conditions to make the switch, we will achieve a significant milestone in reducing our environmental impact. In addition to energy use, we are also focused on reducing waste, optimizing our processes and improving efficiency to reduce our carbon footprint. We believe that a sustainable approach is essential for the long-term success of our business and we are committed to implementing sustainable practices at every level.

Q: How does the use of plastic components contribute to lightweight construction and electromobility?
A: Plastics have revolutionized the manufacturing industry in many ways. For example, they play a key role in lightweight construction, particularly for electromobility. By using plastic components, automakers can significantly reduce the weight of a vehicle while maintaining its structural integrity. This is important because a lighter vehicle requires less energy to move, which translates to better fuel efficiency for ICE vehicles and longer driving ranges for EVs.

Thermoformed parts are made from plastic sheets and molded into different shapes for various applications. Our products are used in the different pieces that basically cover the entire exterior of EVs and we are talking with other companies to also produce inside components to further reduce the car’s weight.  

Q: What advances in plastic production have recently been made and how have they contributed to electromobility?
A: Our head office in Austria provides crucial support, allowing us to concentrate on finding new solutions for Mexico and the North American market. Our range of products include thermoformable chromed plastic sheets and thermoplastic rubber (TPR) for car mats. We have also developed a flame retardant plastic that produces non-toxic gasses if it catches fire, helping save lives. Recently, we developed a new non-woven fabric that can be shaped through the thermoforming process.

We have other products in development as we aim to be the first to meet the market’s demands, which will allow us to produce on a mass scale, provided that the demand is adequate.

Q: How does Senoplast Mexico stay ahead of supply chain disruptions and raw material scarcity?
A: We maintain a stable supply chain by adopting a collaborative approach with our customers, partners and suppliers. We understand that a reliable and efficient supply chain is crucial for our business. We have been able to stay ahead of these problems thanks to our excellent relationship with our suppliers. Continuous and open communication with both our clients and distributors allows us to understand any potential issues that could impact the supply chain. 

This is a testament to our proactive approach to risk management and our commitment to building strong partnerships with all stakeholders, which have allowed us to meet deadlines and maintain quality even with the increase in prices. Unlike other companies, we have not been affected by supply chain disruptions or raw material scarcity.

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