Michael Von Keitz
Head of Service USMCA
thyssenkrupp System Engineering

Uncertainty Provides Opportunity for Machine Retrofitting

By Alejandro Enríquez | Fri, 12/27/2019 - 05:00

Political uncertainty can be a big turn-off for automotive companies. As an industry used to make large investments according to a long-term vision, not being able to forecast the path a country will follow encourages companies to put new projects on hold. Although this may mean delays to the start of new operations, the show must go on at existing assembly plants. “As the major automotive investments stop pouring into Mexico, many companies are looking for ways to refurbish and repurpose their production lines,” says Michael von Keitz, Head of Service, thyssenkrupp System Engineering. “Demand in Mexico today is in reworking and updating existing assembly lines to make them fit to operate for another decade.”

Given the country’s political landscape, the service entity of thyssenkrupp System Engineering in Mexico is focusing on business services such as refurbishing existing lines to increase production efficiency, spare parts management, relocation of production lines and modification of small stations. “We have changed the strategy in order to position ourselves in the market to meet the requirements of our customers better,” says von Keitz.

“Even in uncertain times, we have always been a reliable partner for our customers.” Says von Keitz. “Being a part of thyssenkrupp System Engineering, with all its experience, competences and global presence, allows us to provide solutions for our customers, from local and small projects to turnkey systems.”A business unit of the German thyssenkrupp Group, System Engineering is a system partner for all important components of the car body and powertrain chain processes in the automotive industry. The product range also includes automation solutions for electrical storage and drive systems as well as solutions for innovative lightweight designs.

A substantial part of the retrofitting solutions of thyssenkrupp System Engineering in Mexico is adapting the newest electronics and IT solutions to older machines. “The hardware of a production line will usually run perfectly even after 10 years of use, but we need to add the newest sensors, controls and software,” says von Keitz. These retrofitted production lines offer clients greater control of their production including transparency of performance and results and, in some cases, allow them to repurpose a line to make a new component.

Von Keitz highlights that the market has become much more competitive. “At the end of the day, the price of a production line is directly related to how much value a company can add to manufacturing plants and how professionally a supplier can handle the project,” he says. To compete in this segment, thyssenkrupp System Engineering in Mexico bets on its local presence, high engineering competencies and agile project execution. “The fact that we can service the operations locally with high technical competencies, is a great advantage for our clients, particularly for the OEMs,” von Keitz says.

Von Keitz highlights that the company promotes the adoption of new manufacturing technologies in Mexico by remaining close to its clients. “We can be in our clients’ plants and see what their difficulties are,” he says. “This gives us and our clients a great opportunity to improve production equipment.”

Alejandro Enríquez Alejandro Enríquez Journalist and Industry Analyst