Antonio Herrera
President
Querétaro Automotive Cluster
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View from the Top

Uniting Clients with Suppliers

Thu, 09/01/2016 - 17:24

Q: What are the biggest areas of opportunity for the local supply chain in Queretaro?

A: While all direct suppliers have the technical and design abilities to address the needs of OEMs, few Tier 2 and Tier 3 companies have developed enough to keep the market content. All Tier 1 companies need those companies for smaller assemblies, tooling or maintenance but they do not usually have the production capacity to satisfy large orders. SMEs tend to supply low volumes at high prices instead of committing to long-term and more competitive contracts.

We created the first Automotive Forum in Queretaro, as a way to find solutions to this problem. We unite clients with suppliers at an event that features exhibitions, conferences and presentations, as well as courses for smaller companies. We merged different approaches, so we could create the perfect environment to highlight the advantages of the local supply chain. Every OEM has a defined supplier network so we invite them to the event to outline what they look for in new suppliers, indicating opportunities for cost reduction and their needs for future projects. To date, the automotive industry imports roughly 68 percent of its components. Any event to consolidate suppliers could have significant repercussions on local sourcing.

Q: How is Queretaro collaborating with other Mexican clusters to promote the local supply chain nationally and internationally?

A: Our strongest bonds are with the automotive clusters of Guanajuato (CLAUGTO) and Nuevo Leon (CLAUT). We are boosting our connection with San Luis Potosi as their cluster is still very green. We have helped them overcome many of the obstacles we once faced. Similarly, we still need to strengthen our relationship with Aguascalientes and the State of Mexico. Despite being a small state, we are surrounded by large clients in Guanajuato, Puebla, Aguascalientes and San Luis Potosi. The lack of an OEM in the state has not been a hindrance, and we supply most of them thanks to our privileged geographic position.

Right now, the Queretaro Automotive Cluster has 51 corporate members and six universities that contribute with training and courses. We offer our services to more than 90 companies in the region. Our target is to consolidate and attract more members. We will develop a Supplier Committee with a division focused on Tier 2 companies alongside a new council focused on logistics operations.

Q: How could this forum promote the development of tooling specialists in the region?

A: There is a clear need in the industry and it is a shame few companies or people specialize in these types of activities. Every player in the industry is worried about manufacturing parts but few people address the issue of how to produce and design the tools needed to manufacture these components. When we heard about the Queretaro Tooling Institute we immediately planned how to build an alliance with it. The Institute embraced us straight away and they even invited me to be Vice President of the association. Its added value is that its focus will not be limited to the automotive industry. The institute will be able to offer its services to all plastic and metal-forming companies in the region.

Q: What plans does the state have for the Queretaro Automotive University?

A: There has been a change of heart about the creation of a Queretaro Automotive University. Local companies are looking for people who know how to design automotive components, tooling equipment or that have a certain level of expertise in production lines. Consequently, an engineer from the Queretaro Automotive University would be over or even wrongly qualified for those positions. The industry needs more mechanical, electronics, plastics and chemical engineers, specializing in automotive. These degrees exist in at least one of the 17 academic institutions in Queretaro. The state is developing a new strategy involving all universities in the region. They are creating a network that will direct companies that are recruiting to the institutions that produce the best engineers in each vocational specialty.