Bernd Noack
General Manager
FESTO Mexico
View from the Top

Robotics, Self-Diagnostics to Update, Adapt

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 13:07

Q: What is FESTO doing to incorporate Industry 4.0 practices into its solution?

A: The concept of Industry 4.0 has not yet been fully established in the industry. It will continue developing hand in hand with technology in the coming years. FESTO is working intensively with research centers, universities and clients to identify the industry’s needs and to generate adequate technology. The implementation of Industry 4.0 requires capital and collaboration, with which FESTO can help. We want to participate in robotics and self-diagnosis, as well as technical teaching and software development.

Industry 4.0 encompasses much more than just the internet of Things. It involves Big Data, virtual reality, cyber-security and much more. The company is designating a lot of resources to technology development and to generating associations with institutions that foster technological improvements. Adapting to Industry 4.0 practices is not only about developing new products but also about improving manufacturing processes.

Q: Which has greater appeal for FESTO in terms of growth opportunities: hardware or software?

A: Software and hardware developers are in a race to take the lead on Industry 4.0 practices in the automotive sector. Both types of developers are trying to venture into each other’s business. The question we are now facing is whether software developers will manufacture cars or car manufacturers will develop their own software and compete. I believe the trend we will see is the latter. At FESTO, we are generating products that require software and data management. We will generate control systems, sensors and software to compete effectively in the market. Technology development goes hand in hand with alliances. Regardless of new software development, we are considering acquiring complementary companies in the future to expand our product portfolio.

Q: How close is FESTO to meeting its goal of doubling sales by 2020?

A: I am convinced that the Mexican market will keep growing as the Mexican automotive sector attracts new investments from the likes of BMW and Audi. To reach our sales target we will develop new, less traditional sectors, such as mobile pneumatics that will allow us to generate the volumes we need. Another important opportunity area is supporting machinery manufacturers. Unfortunately, we import most of the machinery used in factories in Mexico. Imports total 80 percent of the machines used in industries such as pharma.

Q: How is the deceleration of the US automotive industry affecting FESTO’s manufacturing operations?

A: We have not felt the impact from the slowdown in US car sales. It is important to remember that the automotive industry is cyclical and continues to be dynamic. Recent and projected investments in the industry reflect confidence in its performance but we are concerned about FESTO’s dependence on the automotive industry, which represents one-third of our sales. We are venturing into markets that are less familiar to us, such as home appliances, to balance out any fluctuations in the automotive industry. It is important to consider how the Mexican automotive industry will be affected by new technology trends. Engines or piston manufacturers will be affected by the introduction of electric vehicles. All sectors affected by this trend must prepare themselves but FESTO is not fazed by the emergence of electrically powered vehicles.

Q: How can FESTO contribute to the development of the manufacturing supply chain?

A: We are working to develop and strengthen our distribution channel, so that companies can offer the same service clients would get directly from us. We have limited resources so we want to focus them on clients with whom we see the most potential. SMEs have to become aware of how necessary investing in technology is for their survival. Depending on the industry, technology investment can reduce costs by 15- 20 percent and in some cases, up to 30 percent. This is why it is so important for SMEs to have available capital to invest in new technology.