Interview : Juan Carlos Corral Martin
With the aerocluster model being replicated in other regions such as Baja California, how is collaboration among institutions being encouraged?
JUAN CARLOS CORRAL: Aerospace is one of the three most dynamic industries in Mexico, and according to the Mexican Federation for the Aerospace Industry, it is expected to grow by 11% in 2017. Each state wants its own cluster and tries to replicate the model, leading to an unbalanced dispersion of business opportunities throughout the country. In order to change this dynamic, states have to cooperate to build a nationwide approach. Key players are fostering inter-cluster collaboration, discussing and exchanging better practices, shared needs and a common strategic ground to achieve growth for Mexico. Meetings are now organised by representatives from several clusters, from Baja California and Monterrey to Chihuahua, and of course, Querétaro.
What role has the ACQ played in the development of the state of Querétaro’s aerospace industry?
CORRAL: The ACQ has helped Querétaro stimulate the aerospace sector over the last decade, and it is undeniable that it has been a driver of Querétaro’s economic growth. That said, the ACQ is not solely responsible for attracting important companies to the region. Companies such as ITP, Safran, Bombardier, Airbus Helicopters and Arnnova originally came to the state for economic and strategic reasons unrelated to the cluster. With the main players of the industry present in Querétaro, the cluster emerged with the objective of creating a sustainable supply chain, and incorporating new companies that could help drive horizontal and vertical growth in the sector. In five years of activity, the board of directors has doubled its number positions in order to better integrate small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) within the cluster. The board now consists of 12 chairs occupied by directors of influential companies, SMEs, as well as the state’s universities, such as the Aeronautical University in Querétaro, and research institutions. The state’s government is also an important player in the ACQ. With this breadth of knowledge, the cluster is able to create a diverse and accessible business environment.
This is coupled with new initiatives that allow companies not part of the board to participate in the cluster’s activity. These involve the creation of four work commissions: job training, SMEs, technology and supply chain management. The latter has been vital in identifying companies’ outsourcing needs in the sector and in Querétaro. As a result, more than 20 issues have been identified, which will lead to an improved supply chain in Querétaro with a sales value of over $30m per year.
In what ways would better integration between Tier-1 companies and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) be beneficial to the sector?
CORRAL: Currently, large OEMs are unable to find highly competent local suppliers. There is a need for companies with certifications in aerospace standards, advanced manufacturing capabilities and well-developed logistic processes. However, OEMs are constantly seeking to expand their long-term production programmes. Having more Tier-1 companies would be beneficial in terms of volumes and cost, and generate business leads for Tier-2 and Tier-3 providers. Querétaro harbours research centres such as the National Aeronautical Technology Centre, the Centre for Research and Technological Development in Electrochemistry, the National Meteorology Centre, and the Centre for Engineering and Industrial Development, which form the strategic backbone that supports the development of new solutions and services. General Electric and ITP Aero are also directly involved in technological development, working on design, research and aerospace engineering. ITP Aero has been involved in the certification process of the engine PW814/815 produced by Pratt and Whitney, making it the first Mexican aerospace company to participate in certifications activities.
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