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Octubre de 2020 Página 1 de 3

An air of optimism for the industry in the new normal

Dr.-Ing. Miguel Garzón, Editor in Chief of Metalmecánica Internacional.

MMI magazine spoke to three leaders of renowned manufacturers of technological solutions for machining about electric mobility, nearshoring and digital tools.

After consulting our guests about the effect the pandemic has had on their businesses and how they have adapted to move forward, Nestor Hernandez, commercial director of CENTRIC Solutions de México, S.A. de C.V., started out being pretty clear on what to expect: "The problem of pandemics will not be exclusive to Covid. Recently there was the H1N1 and I do not rule out that more will come”, he stated. "And we're going to have to keep our distance and have safer environments but keep in touch. Virtual contact, which was not accustomed to these levels before the pandemic, has become part of our life in the last 5 months," complemented the commercial director of this CNC machinery and engineering solutions provider.

For Preben Hansen, President of Platinum Tooling, supplier of tool clamping systems, live tools and angular heads, among others, the negative effect of the pandemic was reflected in the decrease in its sales by about 10% compared to the same period last year. "We rely heavily on the sale of machine tools, because we sell accessories for this type of equipment. When there is no sale of machines our business falls out." To which he added: "Fortunately, although companies haven't been buying machines, they've been looking for ways to do more with the equipment they currently have. And this has been a big part of our business for the last 4 or 5 months.  We can provide products that help our customers do more with their current machine tools. That is why we weren't hit so hard," Hansen concluded.

The declaration of the automotive industry as an essential decision for the reactivation of projects of an economic line that generates more than 800 thousand jobs in Mexico only in the auto parts sector. The weeks of shutdown were the time used for all the actors to adapt their production processes, implementing the required biosecurity measures and adapting spaces to restart activities. Alejandro Chavelas, CEO of Fives Grinding Mexico, specialists in technical service, reconstruction and marketing of high-precision grinding machines of the Fives Group, said:

"In early June, we resumed operations at our plant following all the safety and industrial hygiene protocols recommended by the health sector. Similarly, our service engineers resumed technical support at some of our customers' plants, following the protocols established by them".

The reduction in the sale of machine tools can be explained by the reduction in the demand for vehicles and auto parts by the main customers of the Mexican industry: The United States.According to the latest data from the INA (National Autoparts Industry Association of Mexico) as of September 7th, 2020, an annual auto parts production of USD$76,421 Million by 2020 is projected, or 22% less than the previous year. The sale of light vehicles in the United States is projected between 14.5 and a maximum of 16.5 million units. Less than 16.8 million sold in 2019.

Use of digital tools: More than a trend, it became a necessity

"Regardless of these bad years we have had for the way we manage the economy in Mexico, the pandemic accelerated certain decisions. There are many companies that have analyzed how profitable the home office is, how productivity has increased compared to face-to-face work. Reducing costs in companies. Not having such large facilities, using the infrastructure of employees' homes," Néstor Hernandez said.

This pandemic has awakened the use of technologies available for communication like never before." We have used digital platforms to track business issues, technical support and even training/webinars," commented Alejandro Chavelas. To which he adds an interesting anecdote on the import of machinery to Mexico, which clearly demonstrates the trend of these times: "Acompany of the group is in the process of supplying two grinding machines designed and manufactured in Italy. As customers cannot send their technicians to do face-to-face validation in Italy, due to the current restriction of transatlantic travel, evaluation and monitoring have been done through digital platforms, with cameras and video conferences. This has prequalified and released the machines so that they can be shipped and installed in Mexico," Chavelas added.

The president of Platinum Tooling says that "this business has traditionally been handled from person to person. Through visits, phone calls are offered products." However, "there has been the possibility to display the products in other ways: via Zoom or Teams; this worked pretty well. If I can get a dealer who has 20 vendors to be with all their equipment listening to me for half an hour, it's great. That did not happen before Covid," he said.

"This will surely be part of the future and will not go back to being the old way. Even when we can see people again, I think this is good and we're going to keep doing it," Hansen concluded.

Palabras relacionadas:
MMI magazine, metalworking industry in Latam, use of digital tools, the future of the manufacture of auto parts for electric mobility, reshoring, trends in metalworking industry, Miguel Garzón, Change in Metalworking Business Model, Smart Manufacturing in a Factory.

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