When Local Advantage is Not so AdvantageousWed, 01/18/2017 - 12:37
No matter the excellent results obtained with the innovative services offered by disruptive technology companies, implementing industry 4.0 technologies is no easy task. When it is a local company doing the work, the task is even greater.
In a market where big players tend to eat alive the small ones, cost-effectiveness and time reduction are true game-changers that local companies can bring to the table. Man hours in Mexico can reach a fourth of the cost in developed countries such as Germany, France or the US, which in turn becomes a big differentiator in the final price of technology and services, says Luis Cantú, Director General of Monterrey-based MTE, which provides measurement and automation services and products for gas installations. If transportation costs and times are added to the equation, solutions end up being much more economic when working inland. Cantú says that local advantage should be exploited by companies working in Mexican territory. “When a customer asks us for a tailored solution, it is available right away because we are always anticipating industry needs. If customers ask for the same service from international companies it will take much longer not only because of importations but also communication problems and cultural barriers.”
Quality is a factor that, no matter how fast and cheap a technology or service can be provided, cannot be pushed to the background when it comes to making a decision. It is important for local companies to rise to the challenge and become accustomed to meeting international standards, Cantú says. Considering clients as partners with which long-lasting relationships are being created is another plus for local companies because they can offer a more personalized service focused on the client’s needs. “We see clients as partners, and want to have a win-win situation with them,” says Cantú.
MTE, a 100 percent Mexican company with over 25 years in the market, is so sure about its technology that it even offers the customer extra security. “We are so confident about our locally developed technology that we offer the client a guarantee: if he or she does not like it, it can be returned,” says Cantú.
Local companies must also be humble enough to recognize their strengths and, most importantly, where they offer a higher added value that turn them into strong competitors against international companies. “Our main strength is software development for tailored solutions. The sensors we use are from recognized companies but the electronics and software are a result of our local R&D efforts,” says Cantú. Having a wide and specialized range of products and tailored solutions that can be integrated into a competitor’s solutions is a must in a competitive market like that which the Energy Reform is harvesting, adds Cantú. “Due to the Energy Reform and the openness of the market, we incremented our range of products for the energy sector, mainly for the measurement and control of gas. Our software is compatible with standardized products and solutions, making it fully embeddable, which is what clients are asking for. We follow their needs.”
One other hurdle local companies must overcome is the cultural predisposition of their compatriots. “We fight daily against the stereotype that small Mexican companies are less capable than international ones. Having plenty of resources but lacking an R&D tradition in Mexico, people tend to distrust local companies working on innovation. It is not enough for them that we have all the accreditations and follow all the standards,” says Cantú. Ironically, international companies are more willing to give it a chance, says Cantú “Most of the companies we serve are international.”
Fighting against this obstacle will take time but Cantú believes that supporting local talent is the first step. “Mexico has plenty of talent studying technology and science. Many of them have come to work with us as interns and end up staying.” On its own, Cantú has high hopes for local content in Mexico. “For us intelligence and hard work is everything for getting ahead. Adding honesty and character, we believe that Mexico can create a technological revolution and become an international power.”