José Pin
Unit Business Manager
3M Automotive and Aerospace Solutions Division
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View from the Top

Technology Development, Roadmap Are Constants for Growth

Fri, 01/24/2020 - 11:50

Q: How important will the Automotive and Aerospace Solutions division be in 3M’s strategy to make Mexico one of its Top 5 markets?

A: The automotive and aerospace industries are two of the most important drivers of the Mexican economy and therefore crucial to 3M’s strategy in Mexico. We have a wide array of engineered products from different portfolios and divisions that are relevant for both industries. 3M Mexico’s strategy is to grow our penetration in the market segments where we participate, regardless of the overall growth of these areas. As a result, we have secured a return on our investments and our position as leading providers in various industries. We cannot afford to follow the market’s growth tendencies because that would subject the company to constant fluctuations.

Mexico is already in the Top 10 for 3M globally and the relevance of the automotive and aerospace markets to the country’s economic development will only boost the importance of this subsidiary.

Q: How much does Mexico participate in 3M’s global innovation efforts and what is the role of the automotive industry in this process?

A: The company has 37 R&D centers globally and has generated over 113,000 patents. In Mexico, we have one center in San Luis Potosi and have contributed with approximately 380 patents. Our main center in the US focuses mostly on technology generation, while our other 34 facilities use these in the development of appropriate products for the market in which they are located.

Regarding automotive, although it is a priority for the San Luis Potosi center, it is important to note that it is a globalized industry and the megatrends impacting it are not subject to regional conditions. Therefore, our corporate strategy has been to focus our automotive-oriented innovations in centers located in countries that are at the forefront of these megatrends, be it the US, Germany, Japan and even China. In Mexico, our goal is to tropicalize these designs to the needs of our local customers.

Q: How has 3M’s role in the automotive industry changed as technology within the car evolves?

A: Our role as suppliers has not changed but we have become more active in clients’ decisions to adopt new technologies. Abrasives were among the first technologies we developed over 100 years ago and the automotive industry was one of our early clients. Masking tape was also an early development for 3M that arose mainly from the need of OEMs to find a material that could help them paint cars in two different tones. We have always worked closely with our clients to determine their global needs, thus anticipating any new technology trends. We are also participating in Industry 4.0 implementations, making sure our products work with this and other practices.

Q: What would you consider 3M’s main innovation priority at the moment?

A: Vehicle electrification has become a priority for the company, together with the gradual development of self-driving capabilities. Instead of waiting for these tendencies to reach us, we are facing them head on. 3M is gathering experts from its different divisions and technology platforms to create products suitable to participate in the electrification trend. Two years ago, we created a new division called Automotive Electrification that now works closely with several other divisions within the company to approach the client and develop appropriate solutions to the latest industry problems based on our experience with electric materials, renewable energies, safety and graphics and the automotive and aerospace markets.

Q: As an American company, what roles does 3M want to play in the development of the Mexican automotive industry?

A: Independently of any geopolitical condition, we must work together with our clients and the national government in favor of such an important industry as automotive. In turn, this will help us identify new market segments where we can participate and increase our participation as a supplier. Mexico is already a consolidated market and even though there are new OEMs arriving, they are not necessarily new to 3M. We participate in every country that does vehicle design and our division is integrated globally. For this reason, beyond finding new companies to market our products, our priority is to identify new areas where we can support our existing client base.

We do see a bigger opportunity to work more closely with Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers because these companies are gaining a stronger role in deciding the type of supplier they want to use to comply with OEM requirements. That will be our focus in years to come, together with opening new business opportunities with our current clients.