I’m an engineer to drive success in Mexico’s manufacturing sector

Here Alejandro Silva, President of Renishaw Mexico and Central America, explains why now is an exciting time for manufacturing in Mexico and how Renishaw plays a part.

Manufacturing is one of the biggest contributors to Mexico's economy, representing around 18 per cent of the country's GDP, according to the International Trade Association. Since joining the industry at 18, working specifically in the machine tool sector, I've seen first-hand how a skilled workforce and strong trade ties has enabled the country to establish itself as a key player in global manufacturing, fostering an environment of innovation and productivity.

Here Alejandro Silva, President of Renishaw Mexico and Central America, explains why now is an exciting time for manufacturing in Mexico and how Renishaw plays a part.

Mexico has always been heavily embedded in the manufacturing industry — it has long been established as a hub for automotive engineering, the aerospace sector and heavy goods manufacturing. In the last few years we've also seen growth in new sectors, such as medical devices and semiconductors. Automotive is our largest market for exports, with many leading automotive manufacturers, such as Ford, Audi and Toyota, operating in the area. The International Trade Association reports that Mexico produces 3.5 million vehicles annually, 88 per cent are exported, with the majority being sent to the US.

Since opening the Metric Precision Group in 2007, I've gained a lot of knowledge about the industry and have seen how the manufacturing landscape has changed. Now, as the leader of Renishaw's Mexico subsidiary, I get the opportunity to help the local sector develop further. For example, one of the things contributing to the area's recent success is the increasing adoption of advanced digital technologies such as robotics and additive manufacturing (AM) — though these are still in the early stages. Design for AM could be integral to developing more efficient parts for engines and components in aerospace and automotive, while digitalisation will be key to collecting actionable data that manufacturers can use to make more informed decisions.

Nearshoring operations
Interestingly, the pandemic triggered an industrial phenomenon in Mexico, with many American and European businesses looking at nearshoring. To speed up production times, many industry leaders, particularly in the United States, are looking to move production closer to the final consumer, in a bid to reduce costs and shorten lead times.

In my opinion, automotive is definitely a sector that will benefit from nearshoring. In the next decade we'll see production volumes of internal combustion engines reduce and more companies producing components for electric vehicles, whether they are a tier one or tier two supplier, as well as OEMs. As a result, there has already been massive investment into our region. Tesla, for example, recently announced a ten billion US dollar investment to build its new electric vehicle manufacturing facility in Nuevo Leon, due to open in 2026/27, which will support over 300 local suppliers.

In my role at Renishaw I've seen the effects of nearshoring and the acceleration of electric vehicle production. We've just begun working with a global leader in automotive manufacturing to provide precision measurement equipment as it transitions to building new engines for electric vehicles. Our team will help OEMs to improve efficiency across operations with machine tool probing and CMM technology. As investments from global industry leaders continue across the region, we'll see the development of a more skilled and active workforce, as well as a rise in wages to reflect the importance of the industry.

Expanding our footprint
Our subsidiary is always evolving, making my role as President really exciting. We're a relatively new part of the business, and our dedicated team has the energy and potential to work towards bigger milestones as we grow and help OEMs become more efficient. We opened the subsidiary with five employees, and now have a team of over 40, and as we continue to expand we'll be able to offer more support to local businesses, helping to further the development of smart manufacturing in Mexico.

To expand the customer base at the subsidiary, as well as to help grow the industry in general, we want to make sure we're doing more than just selling products. It's about listening to market demand, as well as to our customers and our team to understand everyone's needs.

Manufacturers, for example, typically come to us with a problem to solve. Often, they think a specific product or tool could fix it, but sometimes the underlying problem isn't actually what they were expecting. By listening, investigating and discovering the problem, we can provide real change. Sometimes it could be a quick fix that doesn't rely on us making a sale, but it builds trust. Once manufacturers can trust the advice of suppliers like Renishaw, it's a done deal.

Growth is integral to meeting the needs of our sector, and we require a skilled and engaged workforce to deliver this. Creating a culture of trust means that we can cultivate a skilled workforce as the industry becomes more competitive. As nearshoring brings more opportunities to the area, the industry must consider how to continue building a skilled labour force, looking at how we give students the experience they need in the early stages of their career to bridge any potential skills gaps.

Looking ahead, the next few years look exciting for Mexico and Central America. As well as the investment we'll see from the expansion of electric vehicle production, we'll see changes in technology influence the industry. For example, as industrial robots become cheaper, we'll see more manufacturers in our area invest in automation, enabling the growing workforce to move away from repetitive tasks and into more creative roles.

For further information on Renishaw's manufacturing services, visit www.renishaw.com/.

• Alejandro Silva studied electronics and automation at the Univesidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon (UANL) in Mexico and began working in the machine tool industry at the age of 18
• Silva founded Metric Precision Group in 2007 at the age of 25 to distribute Renishaw's machine tool probing equipment in Mexico
• Renishaw acquired the Metric Precision Group in 2012, creating the Renishaw Mexico Subsidiary, which now distributes Renishaw equipment across Mexico and Central America

Featured Product

BigRep ONE: Large-Scale 3D Printing

BigRep ONE: Large-Scale 3D Printing

The BigRep ONE is an award-winning, large-format 3D printer at an accessible price point. With over 350 systems installed worldwide, it's a trusted solution for prototyping and production by designers, innovators, and manufacturers alike. Featuring a massive one-cubic-meter build volume, the fast and reliable ONE brings your designs to life in full scale.