Daniel Hernández
Director General
Queretaro Automotive Cluster
/
View from the Top

Queretaro on the Path to Recovery, Innovation

By Alejandro Enríquez | Tue, 12/21/2021 - 12:16

Q: What are the challenges the auto sector faces in Queretaro?

A: During the pandemic, companies have made an extraordinary effort to maintain operations while keeping up with all necessary health measures. To support them, the cluster has promoted vaccination campaigns and encouraged the benefits of vaccines among those wary of them.

As businesses transform because of the pandemic, clusters also have to consider new ways to create business partnerships and promote networking. Generating new leads is still a challenge for some companies. We help them by surveying plant managers and CEOs in the state to delineate strategies for business development, such as incorporating digital channels into their market strategy.

Another challenge is the supply shortage across entire supply chains. Semiconductors are among the key products in short supply, with waiting lists of over a year. To cope with the shortage, companies should focus on inventory planning and customer relationships.

Q: How is Queretaro recovering from the challenges caused by the pandemic?

A: Companies in Queretaro are recovering but they still have a long way to go. At the start of 2021, some estimated that the industry would surpass 2019 production levels. While numbers are better than last year, they are not at the levels companies expected. The recovery has been much slower. On the positive side, this is not a market effect but the result of an external situation. There is demand for new cars; the problem is with the manufacturing supply chains, which are hindering recovery.

Q: What are your priorities for Queretaro’s incoming governmental administration?

A: The automotive industry had a solid and successful partnership with the current state administration, with which we worked to improve local IMT facilities at different private and public R&D centers, among numerous other projects. The sector welcomes continuity.

Due to the pandemic, one of our main priorities is strengthening the lower levels of the supply chain. The local industry needs more Tier 2 and Tier 3 companies, which are fundamental. The sector is also prioritizing focused investment and a green agenda that includes circular economy business models, energy efficiency and waste reduction. In August, 40 of our members presented 42 projects related to the circular economy. The goal is to have a circular economy in the state that involves academia and research centers. Our priorities continue to be the promotion of a sustainable agenda and more innovation projects.

Q: How are new technological capabilities influencing innovation?

A: Companies are undergoing a profound transformation in all parts of their business, from engineering to manufacturing. Certain manufacturing processes do not need to transform entirely but technological capabilities make it easier for the faster adoption of new processes.

For example, additive manufacturing at plastic injection companies can help them run prototypes, analyze molds or bolster emergency production. Today, additive manufacturing in certain processes provides a competitive advantage for companies looking to optimize processes. Companies should be willing to explore technological capabilities when it comes to digital twins, cloud computing or cloud storage. In Queretaro, academic institutions are focusing on training their students on embedded software capabilities.

Q: What other material science innovations are gaining strength in the sector?

A: In Queretaro, some companies are exploring carbon fiber solutions, which will be essential in future mobility plans. Many companies are exploring different material science solutions and even though it is a complex area, there are promising opportunities, for example in the use of glass and carbon fibers. The development of resin suppliers and steel mills is an opportunity area for Mexico but the country’s numerous regulations are standing in the way.

Q: What are the sector’s priorities for the near future?

A: Our goal is to build trustworthy relationships and guide companies toward a brilliant future. Our main pillars are collaboration and partnerships, which are part of our everyday activities and within our working committees. We aim to have a sectoral focus where everyone is on the same path. Today more than ever, our cluster exists to create synergies that will allow the auto sector to thrive.

 

Queretaro Automotive Cluster is a civil association that groups government agencies, universities and the private sector. The cluster has 104 members.

Alejandro Enríquez Alejandro Enríquez Journalist and Industry Analyst