“No Unique Recipe for Success Concerning Industry 4.0”

Luis H. Sánchez Ocampo is a project manager in the automotive industry. He has studied in Spain, Mexico and the U.S.A. Three years ago he and his father founded Metalistik, a tool making works. In the following interview he reflects on his experiences, new plans and investments in connection with industry 4.0.

GIZ: Mr. Sánchez, you took part in the BMWi Manager Training Programme in February 2016. What were the highlights for you during the training in Germany?
Luis H. Sánchez Ocampo: For my commercial purpose, my highlight during the training program was a workshop meeting between Daimler Mercedes and the suppliers that are planning to install their equipment and machines in Mexico. It was a great opportunity to network and present myself to several potential customers, at the same time, as a trusted supplier with the capabilities to produce parts for them, close to their new facilities.

Additionally, I had the opportunity to meet people from RWTH Aachen University. We had a tour of several facilities in which they are developing 4.0 applications for different purposes such as logistics, production control, process optimization, quality control and maintenance. We also received a guided tour around the Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering (WZL) tool shop which is a research centre that focuses on selecting the best technology available and training their partner’s personnel for tool manufacturing. Before the end of May 2016, part of the WZL team will visit Metalistik and other tool shops in Mexico to learn more about the Mexican market opportunities.

Industry 4.0 facilitates the vision and execution of a “Smart Factory”. How could this be implemented in your day to day business?
At the moment, Metalistik is developing its own production control system. First and foremost, the system must be very flexible and react to changes, in order to ensure optimal production processes. In order to do that, Metalistik needs to overcome two main problems. Firstly, our machines are not up to date technology; they are not fitted with a communication channel. Secondly, online analysis accelerates activities; supervisors will therefore need the most up to date information in order to be able to respond as quickly and flexibly as possible.
To solve the first issue, we are considering a low cost device patented by the University of Navarra that is able to give online information about the production line status and the different events that might be happening, such as failures or quality issues. Using this information, we can immediately take effective action. From our database of “Lessons Learned”, the supervisor will receive the instructions through an augmented reality system.

You started a private equity fund with your company Metalistik in Aquascalientes, Mexico to invest in industry 4.0 technology. Would you like to tell us more about your plans?
A spin-off project might be the result of this development. We are looking forward to analysing two other industrial companies that have very similar production conditions but different types of products (types of processes and controls), this research will complement and validate the final result of our system. For the development of this project we also have strong support from Asymmetric Business Dynamics which is a consultancy and an IT developer. If the system turns out to be successful for the first companies to use it, we will consider selling it as a low cost product to other industrial companies. This will be positive news for our shareholders since we are not only solving our production control difficulties but also generating additional income.

Modern information and communication technologies like cyber-physical systems, big data or cloud computing will help create new possibilities to increase productivity and improve quality – where are the challenges?
Many research centres are developing technologies that can compete with and replace existing technology. Also, there is not one specific recipe for success with industry 4.0; we can see several paths and ways to implement new forms of technology.

In my opinion, one of the main challenges is to choose the correct approach for your firm’s needs. Traditional concepts such as lean manufacturing must not be forgotten in order to avoid making the wrong investments in for example, “waste automatization”. Results have to be oriented towards the competitiveness and profitability of your business.

Thank you for the Interview!