José Canales
Director General and CEO
View from the Top

Question, Learn, Investigate, Innovate

Thu, 09/01/2016 - 14:32

Q: What is MACIMEX’s role in the Mexican automotive industry as one of the main crankshaft manufacturers?

A: MACIMEX has been an important player in the Mexican market for the last 35 years, supplying machined crankshafts to the most important OEMs. We are now considered a partner to all these companies, capable of providing support through our technical teams when their internal manufacturing operations face specific challenges.

Our two Mexican operations enjoy a privileged geographical location, allowing us to satisfy our North American customers’ logistics and product requirements. Similarly, we target the many automotive manufacturing corridors in our country from our Tenango de Valle facility, located 45 minutes west of Mexico City, and our sister plant in Ramos Arizpe, Coahuila.

Q: What ratio of the company’s production is destined to the domestic market and exports?

A: Historically, our ratio of direct and indirect exports versus domestic demand has been close to 80:20. Even though we supply our customers’ plants in Mexico, our crankshafts might be exported as assembled engines by the OEMs. Our competitiveness and technical expertise have allowed our products to be directly and indirectly exported to North America, as well as directly to Brazil, France, China and India.

We have a huge opportunity to continue our growth with all the new OEMs coming to Mexico. By offering products and technical services to a highly demanding customer base, we can participate in a market where only the best can compete. We have carved a niche and successfully gained market share in the country. All we seek from new OEMs establishing operations in North America is an opportunity to show them our capabilities.

Q: How challenging has it been to market the company’s products to Japanese OEMs?

A: We have approached Japanese and Korean OEMs that have set their technical standards and cost targets at extremely competitive levels. MACIMEX is ready and able to meet those challenges. Asian OEMs have a unique way of differentiating and manufacturing their products. They are often leaders in lean manufacturing, which equates to deeply competitive exposure and economies of scale. Our company wants to find ways to be as productive and flexible as they are. As a result of interaction with many OEMs new to Mexico and North America, we are actively exploring and developing new manufacturing methods in cooperation with our machining equipment and automation partners.

Q: What strategies has the company implemented to increase its efficiency and keep up with demand in the auto segment?

A: MACIMEX’s Continued Improvement philosophy is at the forefront of everything we do. We try to implement specific plans that fit an overall strategy of becoming a better partner for our customers every day. Constantly striving for perfection can and will always make us better professionals and a better company for all our customers to interact with. We strive to become an extension of our customer’s facilities, which is most likely the only way we can guarantee long-term survival.

The development of the I2DEAS (Inovación, Ingeniería y Desarrollo Avanzado Sustentable) Center has allowed us to question, learn, investigate and innovate, resulting in more advanced manufacturing processes, improved products and a general expansion into technical areas that were once considered unimportant or not critical to our long-term objectives. We are not only fostering product improvement initiatives but also looking for ways to improve manufacturing results and new materials development. Once all our customers become aware of our R&D capabilities and state-of-the-art technical expertise, the intangible value of these activities will be recognized by our customer base. This is invaluable in a highly competitive environment like the automotive industry.

Q: What is the company’s take on human capital development, especially for engineering and R&D activities?

A: Human capital is among the most important assets for achieving our mid and long-term objectives, which is why we have implemented our Personnel Development program. This includes sponsoring a Master’s Degree in Automotive Engineering, developed in collaboration with the ITESM’s campus in the State of Mexico. More than 15 of our engineers have participated and are today part of our engineering, operations and I2DEAS Center staff.

Approximately three years ago, we also started a dualeducation program, in which we were the home base for many students at technical institutions. This is a winwin situation for all participants. Students match lessons learned at school with actual experience gained on a daily basis, technical institutions can modify or tailor their syllabi based on industry needs and our company helps by encouraging a sense of community among the youth. Meanwhile, we also develop a talent pool that facilitates our growth with proven and capable potential employees who are also inspired by our program.

Q: What challenges has the company faced in terms of weight reduction trends and the introduction of new materials?

A: Strict efficiency standards imposed on all new vehicles, intense global industry competition, as well as the oil price fluctuation and its effect on total cost of ownership line the playing field with challenges. 

The study of lighter materials and the development of new manufacturing processes to eliminate dead weight is pivotal in helping us remain a competitive player in our specialty. At our I2DEAS Center, we are managing several projects focused on innovating raw materials for crankshafts and other components, improving machining and complementary processes that allow common steel to have the technical characteristics of higher-grade materials.

Q: How has MACIMEX improved its processes to reduce downtime and defects in parts per million?

A: We use a variety of proven techniques such as 8Ds, Six Sigma and Kaizen methodologies. As part of Grupo QUIMMCO, we also incorporated a companywide program called QUIMMCO Excellence System (SEQ) in 2015. SEQ pushes all Grupo QUIMMCO companies and individual operational entities to behave in a similar way.

This approach monitors the day-to-day performance of all our production lines, assessing the situation when a problem arises and following a strict problemsolving methodology that requires involvement from all key manufacturing and operations personnel. Grupo QUIMMCO has played a key role in allowing MACIMEX to become the global leader it is. The company has not only provided technical and financial support but also guidance through thick and thin.