Preaching the Benefits of Technology, InnovationByJan Hogewoning |Mon, 07/13/2020 - 05:00
To truly have an impact on the industry’s development, research centers must work to make innovations accessible and affordable. Adi Corrales, Automation Systems Director of the Engineering and Industrial Development Center (CIDESI), says the future of the automotive industry is in interconnectivity and sustainability, adding that his center should act as an apostle of Industry 4.0. “Local providers – those in closest alliance with car assemblers – must see the benefits of these innovations,” he says.
CIDESI designs parts and components for both final products and manufacturing processes. Apart from a laboratory for additive manufacturing, the center has a microelectronics laboratory where researchers work on microsensors that monitor systems and provide feedback when something is off. The center has implemented different strategies to attract potential clients to its solutions, with demonstrative projects among them. The center has been constructing a showroom that will open in mid-2020, where clients will be able to see and understand new technologies. The hope is that clients will stop seeing these technologies as high-risk investments.
As a public research center, CIDESI depends on a federal budget and works following a bureaucratic process similar to that in government offices. However, hoping to gain the industry’s trust, the center has invested in alliances with the private sector to develop new technologies. According to Corrales, some foreign companies are wary of sharing their technology. However, he hopes the industry does not see CIDESI as a mere supplier but a strategic partner. “We need to show we understand the rhythm of the industry,” he says.
The center is working on a computer system that can make decisions in real time by analyzing a production line. The goal is not just to gather data. “Businesses need to see the advantages of this kind of technology and move away from their trusted model where a supervisor overlooks the machines,” says Corrales.
A second major priority for automotive companies, according to Corrales, is the adoption of renewable energy technologies to make cars fully renewable and not just hybrid. Mexico is falling behind other countries with more aggressive standards. “Mexico has the advantage of experiencing rises in fuel prices but even this will not foster the necessary urgency to move to more sustainable systems,” he says.
Mexico has massive potential in solar energy but the government decided to focus on the Dos Bocas refinery project instead, which Corrales thinks is a mistake. “Ultimately, petroleum is going to run out. Research centers can help in coming up with new energy sourcing strategies,” he says. CONACYT has made significant efforts in several areas, defining 23 priority technologies that it deems important for the future. One of these is a proposed alliance between SENER and CONACYT to build a Mexican electric car, another focuses on making Mexico’s public transport system fully electric. Corrales says technologies do not necessarily have to be fully Mexican because companies can take advantage of what already exists in the market. “The goal should be to create the ecosystem and the infrastructure, so the country can be ready to meet the coming demand.”
Corrales sees 2020 as a crucial year in technological development. “Despite the economic and political climate, there is a great deal of opportunity to bring added value to the industry,” he says, adding that the trade negotiations surrounding USMCA will have a positive impact on the sector. “In fact, these will stimulate the Mexican manufacturing industry to be more efficient and focused.”