Interview: Hermann Bohrer
How do you assess San Luis Potosí’s contribution to Mexico’s automotive industry?
HERMANN BOHRER: The country has almost 60 years of experience in automobile manufacturing. Its automotive industry is accordingly mature not only in terms of suppliers, but also regarding its regulatory framework. Additionally, the state of San Luis Potosí offers a robust logistics infrastructure. Its direct highway to Mexico City and the existing rail connection offers competitive connectivity for manufacturing plants and auto parts companies. The high number of automotive suppliers in the vicinity that have experience supporting the set-up of large projects is also an advantage. According to the Secretary of Economic Development in San Luis Potosí, from 2014 to 2018 some 31,000 new jobs were created in the industry, which demonstrates how dynamic and active it is in the state, and how important it is for job creation.
To what extent are local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and human capital meeting the demands of automotive manufacturing?
BOHRER: SMEs’ growth has been consistent and stable in the region, and local institutions have contributed to creating a well-structured network of industry-related entrepreneurs and companies. San Luis Potosí has become a well-developed automotive centre with suppliers established in the region. Another one of the main factors influencing companies that decide to establish their business in this area is the workforce. The state already has an existing and sufficiently qualified labour in the automotive industry, as well as a number of well-established educational institutions and universities. Companies play an important role in further promoting the development of local talent through continuous training programmes in collaboration with these institutions. The latter have, in turn, focused on designing their studies in correlation with market and industry demands. Various companies, including BMW, have implemented vocational training programmes. Furthermore, the integration of young women in the automotive industry has been substantially promoted, especially in technical areas.
What characteristics make San Luis Potosí and the Bajío Region a research, innovation and development centre for the automotive industry?
BOHRER: The implementation of best practices and the use of innovative and new technologies are helping the sector enhance flexibility within all operations and production processes. Technologies such as smart data analytics, smart logistics, innovative automation, assistance systems, and additive manufacturing are important to improving efficiency and productivity in the industry. In the future, changes in international trade will likely require greater adaptation to the current digital transformation to meet the demands of society, better use the available resources and maximise the automotive industry’s output.
Nevertheless, the challenges are numerous and increasingly complex. The Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0, requires constant innovation, a deep understanding of emerging technologies and computer tools that match constantly evolving occupational profiles. Companies must be prepared for not only the benefits that the use of these new technologies can bring; they must also understand the ways in which their processes could be further improved through a smart management strategy. Smart strategies are fundamental in enabling both local and international enterprises to increase their competitiveness and meet global standards. In this sense, both San Luis Potosí and the Bajío region have become the right fit for the establishment of a solid and reliable centre for the development of one of the most competitive industries on the continent.
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