Carlos Torres
Commercial Director
Quaker Houghton Chemical Corporation Mexico
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Quaker Houghton: Right Chemicals, Substantial Savings

By Alejandro Enríquez | Thu, 01/07/2021 - 06:00

Q: What role does the automotive industry play within Quaker Houghton Chemical Corporation’s operations?

A., Quaker Houghton is one of the main suppliers of the automotive industry with around 45 percent market share. We have a broad offering that includes products, services, and equipment for fluid monitoring, all this represents improvements in operations and cost reductions.

Q: How does Quaker Houghton help companies reduce costs?

A: Like other industries, we have been affected by the downward trend in sales, particularly during the peak of the pandemic in April and May. As part of an essential sector, we did not pause operations but we did implement contingency plans for our customers that stopped. A series of preparations are needed to keep fluids static for long periods. To resume operations, Quaker Houghton supported clients in monitoring the conditions of their fluids. Since these can be perturbed by external elements, we helped them save on the cost of buying new fluids for systems that use from 200L to 200,000L. 

Q: What lessons did Quaker Houghton learn from the pandemic?

A: No industry or sector was prepared for the situation the world experienced. From an administrative standpoint, we implemented all health measures necessary to prevent contagions at our plants while taking a home-office approach for our corporate activities. We realized we can operate remotely while remaining efficient as a company.  

Q: How does the merger between Quaker and Houghton impact the companies’ operations in Mexico? 

A: By combining the capabilities of two leaders in the sector, with more than 100 years of experience, we created a great company with a global footprint that sets us well apart from our competitors. Both our added value and our R&D capabilities were increased substantially. In the automotive industry, we merged our complementary portfolios. Our account managers can now offer both product lines and expand our market reach. Quaker Houghton also increases its flexibility by remaining close to customers and we are even exploring the possibility of increasing our operations in Mexico. We are also exploring new product families for new technologies such as bio-stable products. 

Q: How does Quaker Houghton contribute to the development of EVs?

A: We are aware that the electrification trend is here to stay. We also acknowledge that auto parts and components for the sector require a smaller number of chemical products during their production. We are adapting to the circumstances by listening to the market. For instance, EVs use more aluminum so we offer products for this material, or ex profeso products, so customers can gain significant savings in tooling. We are learning hand-in-hand with our customers by helping them develop the products they need.

Q: What other trends have you seen in the automotive sector and how are you helping clients to embrace them?

A: There is great pressure in the sector to reduce costs more than ever. The automotive industry is characterized by its tight margins. We are addressing that need and we have had success stories in terms of cost reductions. Fluid costs may not be that high if we consider the entire manufacturing process but their true value lies in the savings they can generate. In some cases, fluids can even have a higher initial cost but the overall savings they bring, particularly in tooling equipment, are significant. 

We see great opportunities to keep growing in the country. There are new companies, particularly from Asia, that represent great opportunities. This is the right moment for us to support our current and potential customers to face these challenging times. We need to be creative and we are here to help. 

Q: How does Quaker Houghton include sustainability in the equation?

A: Our segment is working to develop products that are easier to use, to handle, and that contribute to customers’ sustainability efforts. Our core values include respecting all regulations in all the markets where we participate. We are ISO 14:000 certified and we are members of ANIQ, which means we are up to date with the latest trends and laws. 

As for our products, we are trying to design them in a more environmentally friendly way. This means extending the life cycle of some of our products from weeks to months, which reduces the amount of water used in the process. These technologies are bio adaptable. Also, we are looking for less toxic raw materials. We are trying to adapt our formulas to diminish toxicity levels while making products safer for transportation. 

Q: What is Quaker Houghton’s priorities for 2021?

A: First and foremost is our employees’ safety. We cannot relax about COVID-19. We have many people in the field and they need to be cautious. We are also focusing on delivering results to our investors since we are a public company. 

Looking forward, we are setting the stage for recovery. We are looking closely at segments that are quickly recovering. We remain aware of external factors, such as ongoing trade tensions and the US elections. Again, we need to adapt and be creative. We are even proposing investments in the country to expand our logistics capacities. The pandemic has lasted longer than the industry would like but it will eventually pass.

 

Quaker Houghton is a global provider of process fluids and lubricants for steel, aluminum, automotive, aerospace, offshore, can, mining, and metalworking sectors. It has a manufacturing plant in Nuevo Leon.

Photo by:   Quaker Houghton
Alejandro Enríquez Alejandro Enríquez Journalist and Industry Analyst