Despite the changes that took place during 2018, between the renegotiation of the Free Trade Agreement and the uncertainty before the new Government, the Clusters and Industrial Chambers in the State qualified the final balance as a year of sustained industrial growth.


Manuel Montoya, general director of the Automotive Cluster, said that according to the last report from October, Nuevo Leon closed with approximately 12 billion dollars in sales.


“We are estimating a little growth regarding 2017, we have had a good year despite the uncertainties because we have an important industrial base and, mainly, the American market continues to ask for cars.  This is the fourth consecutive year where 17 million cars are sold which has been the peak and it has not come down since then,” detailed the general director of CLAUT.


He assured that there has been a change in the product mixture, as the American market is currently demanding more sales of pickups and SUVs; therefore, compact automobiles are less manufactured.  “This trend settled by the neighboring country is, among other things, because of the chap cost of fuel, big cars purchase will keep that way for 2019,” he said.


“It is important to mention that 80 % of exports to the United States are done by us and sales have not dropped, they are sustained; even some companies are mentioning that they have no more capacity on their warehouses,” said Montoya.


On the other hand, specifically about the subject of the Automotive Cluster composition it has lied about the amount of companies, some have changed their production lines per models, thus was explained by Montoya when clarifying that there have no being new investments, they have simply changed the type of car.


“We are more than 100 members between companies and associations, we grew a little this 2018, among two or three more companies; however, we already covered an important part of the value chain,” said the general director.


“Before the big changes coming in the CLAUT Council they decided to begin a strategic planning process that will take us to define the cluster lines for the upcoming 6 years, thinking in 2025.  This process will be led by the Consultant Bain & Company, which will bring us its global perspective, and where we hope all cluster actors will get involved.  By the end of March, we are estimating having a document with the key coordinates for CLAUT activities for the upcoming years,” Montoya noted.


An important point from the Automotive Cluster to be underlined was the startup of the Tooling Cluster, which after a while of planning achieve to be finished together with the Federal Ministry of Economy and of a group of companies attached to the CLAUT.


“The tooling subject is an industry that have not had the opportunity of being developed in Mexico, we are trying to encourage it through small workshops in the area, which are supported by big companies that send them work to make them grow and we are having workshops to shape technicians specialized in molds and dies for maintenance, manufacture and design, in this sense we are working together with the school Alvaro Obregon,” he noted.


The Tooling Cluster began with 17 members and today they are 35, said Alfonso Pena, general director of this group.

“In our agenda is included a council meeting every two months and something important to underline that take place on 2018 was the signing of a collaboration agreement with the Tooling Cluster of Portugal, in which we settle mutual visits to know the best practices they have, at this moment we are organizing the first visit from us to know the companies, know the institutions that support them; It seems interesting for us how they work because they have too much interference in knowing how to manage projects at European Union level and we invited tooling companies also, educational institutions and research centers,” Pena said.


The cluster provides continuous training, there is currently a course on tooling design which consists of 120 hours, with a very participative dynamic.  “At the Committee participants define the subjects they need for their development, in order to lecture the course; the final proposal goes to the Committee which decides how subjects are going to be developed,” explained Alfonso.


The course of “tooling design” was made in such manner, by presenting a proposal, which was supported by the UANL, CIDESI and the CLAUT; but it was the Committee who decided to make it modular in order for each specialize and take the module where they have more expertise.


“There are 30 hours lectured by CIDESI, 30 hours were from CLAUT professors and the other 60 are lectured by the UANL, which are still ongoing and have to do with the materials subject.  Another course we have is of Instructors Formation for expert people from companies and that they can teach courses internally from how to design, develop a manual presentation and evaluation of the course,” said Pena.


Among the standing participations the Tooling Cluster had was the FOSITEC Fair in Saltillo; the Automotive Forum in Guanajuato; the Automotive Supplier Forum and the Foundry Expo.  The cluster also anticipated that they are planning, together with the Mexican Association of Molding and Dies Manufacturing an event where both will be organizers.


Meanwhile the Home Appliances Cluster of Nuevo Leon (CLELAC, by its Spanish initials) had an increase on their membership of 18 % by closing with almost 70 members.


According to Cecilia Carrillo, general director of CLELAC, companies integrating the list are part of the value chain, as they manufacture something and have to be suppliers of some home appliances manufacturer, air conditioning or of industrial refrigeration equipment.


Among some of the points to highlight obtained during 2018 are the increase in participation and the good qualification the cluster had when fulfilling the Business Summit.  “This event is not new at our agenda, it is the fifth one fulfilled, but it had a growth in the number of attendees, of business figures and there was too much participation, even more than expected, all this make CLELAC sound locally and nationally because we had visitors from other States,” detailed Carrillo.


At the meeting participated companies that are not manufacturing in Mexico, from which according to Cecilia Carrillo, one of them is interested in arriving in Nuevo Leon. “Foreign companies saw an opportunity in the number of suppliers available and that makes doors open because they see the potential present here and they can trust in the capability of suppliers present in the area,” she noted.


The general manager emphasized that she is confident in that the economy will grow despite the volatility being lived; however, she said the industrial sector has good foundations.  “I am sure the increase will continue regarding development, we know how to work and we have many years being efficient and innovative,” she ended.