Monterrey Aerocluster – Professionalizing the Aerospace Industry
Jorge Arrambide is the Secretary of Economic Development of Nuevo Leon. He made this comment: “For the State Government, the development of high addedvalue industries is always a priority: the Aerospace industry for instance, represents a great opportunity to widen our incursion in the global market, and by this increase the level of investment and well-paid employment.”
The State of Nuevo Leon, better known for its cosmopolitan City of Monterrey, is strategically located in the NAFTA corridor. It has excellent connectivity to the major ports and cities within Mexico and the United States. Some reasons why global companies have decided to establish in Nuevo Leon are the positive attitude toward international business there. And it is a place featuring a highly-qualified labor force. The State is connected with the main ports and cities of Mexico and the rest of the NAFTA Market with excellent modern Infrastructure. It is a State that provides a combination of high-tech industry in a low-cost region with a well-developed supply chain and a high quality of life.
Monterrey enjoys an important industrial legacy extending back to the development of brewing and steel foundry industries in the early 20th century. The State has been directly involved in the auto parts and metalmechanics sectors during recent decades. No other state in Mexico has done what Nuevo Leon has done by encouraging the development of high value-added economic clusters under the “triple helix” concept.
The aim is to bring together industry and government along with academia. Aerospace, Biotechnology, Nanotechnology, IT & Software, Automotive & Home Appliances are good examples of these well-organized clusters. As one of Mexico’s most successful and highly industrialized states, Nuevo Leon is confident that the region will become a major player in the Aerospace Industry.
MD Helicopters, Mexcoaero, Monterrey Jet Center, Tecmaq, Metrolab, Frisa Aerospace, Asesa, Aztek Technologies, Estampados Monterrey, Ezi Metales, Exova, Hemaq, Herramental Monterrey, Jaiter, Metalinspec, Parker Aerospace and Viakon are among the main aerospace firms in Monterrey.
Claire Barnouin is the Director of the Monterrey Aerocluster. She explains the current situation of the Aerocluster to MexicoNOW: “Since last year, we have increased the number of our associates from 17 to 25.”
Nuevo Leon is developing the Aerospace Industry by consolidating the Monterrey Aerocluster. This effort intends to transform Monterrey and its metropolitan area into one of the largest supply locations for turbine and aerospace components manufacturing in North America. The plan is to accomplish this within 10 years and to then host an OEM with the feasibility of becoming a helicopter and turbine hub.
“We also signed a strategic alliance with the CAINTRA (Chamber of Manufacturing Industry of Nuevo Leon), which has allowed us to offer a widest range of services to our associates,” Ms. Barnouin explained, “giving the Aerocluster the opportunity to focus on providing our members the aggregated value they require.”
According to Ms. Barnouin, the Monterrey Aerocluster has focused their efforts to make tailor-made products for companies operating in Nuevo Leon. “We have also been looking to strengthen the supply chain in the industry by promoting our competitive advantages at the main aerospace trade shows,” she explained. “We are doing this as well as working hard on providing the training and certifications that our local industry needs.”
Nuevo Leon is currently involved in supplying the Aeronautical Industry by testing different manufactured products. And further ahead it is looking forward to becoming the helicopter and turbine hub of North America. Ms. Barnouin explained that the Aerocluster has been integrating local industry with the OEM’s value chain. “Our strategy,” she points out, “has two major fields of action: our agenda of competitiveness has everything to do with certifications, training and acquiring technical expertise; and our promotion agenda has been shared with the State Government as well as the private sector.”
Also, major Mexican investments have been done in the State of Nuevo Leon. One clear example is Frisa Aerospace, a manufacturer of seamless rolled rings in nickel and titanium alloys as well as stainless steels. These are needed to serve a variety of industries and applications such as Aerospace, Industrial Gas Turbines, Oil and Gas, Petrochemical, and High Temp Corrosion.
Osvaldo Ramirez is the Aerospace Business Unit Manager of Frisa. He explained that the company was established in 2003 and is part of the Frisa Industries group, a world-class leader in Rolled Ring Forgings.
“This is our seventh year of operation and since our startup, Frisa has experienced constant growth,” said Mr. Ramirez. “At this time we employ 225 people to provide our products to different OEM’s such as Rolls Royce and GE.”
Victor Granados is the Strategic Commodity Manager for Parker Aerospace. He explained some of the parameters of his firm. “Our current operation in Monterrey is around 32,000 sq.ft. with an investment of around US$4 million. We have a current work force at the Parker Aerospace Stratoflex Products Division in Monterrey of approximately 25 employees. They are working from Monday through Friday in one shift. We plan to add a second shift next year.
This facility is currently manufacturing high-precision CNC machined products, as well as producing hose assemblies and bending tubes. All of the products manufactured in this facility are specifically destined for commercial aviation use, according to Granados. “The operation in Monterrey,” he says, “was originally focused on GE products as our main customer. But now we are working on products for Sukhoi, a Russian company, and many other customers. We supply many machined parts that we use for assemblies at our Fort Worth facility.” he explained.
Claire Barnouin mentioned that, “during 2010 and 2011, many successful companies operating in Nuevo Leon have made important investments to increase their current capacity. A couple of examples are Frisa, which is expanding operations with a new US$30 Million facility next-door to their existing plant, and Metalinspec, a Mexican testing company which has invested in the first ever underground laboratory in Mexico to reduce impact of vibrations during tests conduction”. Exova, an American testing facility, also has increased its capacity with the acquisition of ten new stress-rupture machines.
According to the Director of the Monterrey Aerocluster, the Nuevo Leon Government at this time is in the process of attracting four companies from the Aerospace Industry which have serious intentions of investing in Mexico. To be more specific without revealing too many details, these companies are related to the manufacture, maintenance, and engineering and design sectors.
Nuevo Leon is well prepared for the Aerospace Industry. Efforts have been carefully focused on meeting the standards and requirements of this sector. Talking about Monterrey, we can say it is really ready for a demanding Industry like the Aerospace Industry. Take this for example. The Universidad of Nuevo Leon (UANL) has an on-going Aerospace Engineering degree program.
In addition they have the Alvaro Obregon Technical School where they prepare bilingual technicians in jet engines maintenance and a diverse range of other projects to develop processes and certifications that are now operational in locally established companies.
They are also working closely with suppliers that are considering obtaining Nadcap Certifications and Composite projects. The Center for Aeronautical Innovation and Engineering (CIIIA) will open its doors this fall. It is located in the Aeropuerto del Norte, the second international airport in Monterrey, and the first phase of its construction should be completed by the time this publication will be printed.
Osvaldo Ramirez of Frisa shared this observation. “Nuevo Leon,” he said, “…has been for a long time a strong region for investment and industrial development with a strong base of suppliers.
Everything is well located and connected and even more importantly, there is a strong base of knowledge that you won’t find anywhere else in Mexico. In the Aerospace Industry, I believe that the next step should be the establishment of a big company that can promote design operations.”
Victor Granados enjoys talking about the successful efforts of Parker Aerospace in Nuevo Leon. “We are very proud of the Parker Stratoflex success in Nuevo Leon,” he said. “This facility started with an empty building in 2009 but, as a result of hard work and strong leadership, we have been given the opportunity to have a facility operating at 65 percent of installed capacity.”
“In addition,” Granados continues, “to the specific processes and functions mentioned above, we are now adding more processes and production lines. Some of these new additions are a welding line, a fluorescent penetrant inspection line and a chemical line. These should be fully operational and certified under NADCAP during this fiscal year. Also, for the next fiscal year, we expect to have an X-ray line to complete our vertical integration.”
Claire Barnouin, Director of the Monterrey Aerocluster concluded by saying: “Our perspective for investment is very positive.
Mexico is consolidating itself as a priority to receive worldwide investment in the Aerospace Industry. As far as our cluster is concerned, we will keep growing as a facilitator of services in terms that will strengthen our industry. I invite everyone to take a look at our web page www.monterreyaerocluster.com and then take a look at the numerous services that we are able to provide for the success of your operations in Monterrey.”
Victor Granados of Parker Aerospace summarized things in this way: “The present outlook for Nuevo Leon in the Aerospace Industry is quite promising. This is because we now have OEM’s, Tier-1 and an increasing list of suppliers working for the industry, plus many other companies willing to join the Aerospace Industry as their new core business. The future of this industry in Nuevo Leon will be a success if, and only if, the efforts that are in place from government (federal and state), private companies, and learning institutions, continue to focus on identifying and meeting the needs and requirements of industry. Entities like the Monterrey Aerocluster will be crucial to achieve these objectives. At the same time the universities and technical schools providing programs and tools focused on the Aerospace Industry are also critically important.”
The combination of a high-tech manufacturing in a low-cost region gives the State a top advantage, not to mention its strategic location in the Northeastern region of Mexico. There is also the fact of its proximity with the U.S. market. All this along with its entrepreneurial heritage have situated Nuevo Leon for success in a global economy.