Florian Hanft
Plant Manager México
Sonavox
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Sonavox Ramps Up Auto Parts Production in Tlaxcala

By Alejandro Enríquez | Thu, 09/09/2021 - 05:00

Q: How is Sonavox adapting to the post-pandemic world?

A: The pandemic affected the industry as a whole and required a rapid adaptation process from the beginning. In Tlaxcala, the government provided proper guidance for companies in different sectors, prioritizing safety. Supply chain disruptions were also a challenge given that 85-90 percent of our supplies come from China. We do not use semiconductors but these are not the only products in short supply; plastic materials for example were also facing shortages. Our customer focus drove us to think ahead to avoid disrupting our customers. We have been fortunate as we have not experienced any production stoppages thanks to our proactive planning.

Q: What are your thoughts on the new wave of investments arriving to the automotive industry?

A: As transportation and logistics costs have increased due to the pandemic, bringing components from China is not the most viable option anymore. The pandemic drove a quick shift from globalization to regionalization. 
We will see more Chinese products manufactured in countries other than China, including Mexico, Canada and the US. After the semiconductor shortages, it has been said that new manufacturing facilities will emerge, but this will take time. Sonavox, as the first Chinese company in Tlaxcala, has hosted interested parties from China that have visited different regions in Mexico to establish manufacturing sites. But Chinese companies face cultural challenges when they arrive to Mexico and need to embrace adaptability.

Q: How has the automotive industry grown in Tlaxcala over the past two years?

A: The industry has flourished in the state. More companies have installed production facilities and the government has also positively influenced the industry’s performance. CLAUZ has also played an important role in promoting the industry’s growth. All stakeholders have contributed to generate a promising scenario for the automotive sector in Tlaxcala. 

Q: Which components is Sonavox looking to source locally?

A: Manufacturing a speaker requires between 15 and 20 individual components. We have sourced many supplies, such as adhesives and magnets, from abroad, mainly from China. In some cases, such as with magnets, components are really specialized so it is hard to find local suppliers. We have allied with one of our customers to that end. The major challenge is cost, given that the low volumes we purchase in Mexico at the moment make economies of scale unfeasible for local suppliers. However, we will continue to look for local suppliers because transportation costs have climbed 250 to 300% for a Container within the pandemic. from US$4,000 before the pandemic to US$12,000 now.

We also see opportunities to source metallic components locally because they are usually heavy and more expensive to transport. Relying on supplies from other parts of the world can represent a risk for companies in any sector. 

Q: How are new environmental standards set by the industry influencing your operations?

A: We have the IATF:16959 certification and this year we will  acquire the ISO:14001 for environmental standards and also the ISO:45001 certification for safety and health. All of these certifications are necessary to define internal processes and to meet our clients’ and our internal needs. 

We also want to make our operations more sustainable and diminish our environmental impact. When it comes to environmental standards, it is not only that we need to do it but that we want to do it. Embracing environmental standards in a compact environment such as Tlaxcala also sets an example for society as a whole.

 

Sonavox is a Chinese company focused on sound systems and devices for the automotive sector. Its production site is located in Tlaxcala. The company is a member of the automotive cluster CLAUZ and produces in Mexico as a Tier1 supplier to OEMs like Volkswagen, Ford, GM, Volvo Cars and Audi.

Photo by:   MBP
Alejandro Enríquez Alejandro Enríquez Journalist and Industry Analyst