“Best Employment Brand”
Caterpillar started operations in Nuevo Laredo in 1988, as result of a project made to explore the maquila concept, this company has always been conservative and they arrived with the objective of seeing the incentives program of maquila and started it precisely 30 years ago.
At the beginning the project was small, they started operations with a 20 square feet plant and no more than 30 employees in a leased building within an industrial area of the city; for 1994 Caterpillar already transferred its operations to a 70 square feet building and grew to 120 employees. Ten years after starting operations they constructed a building property of Caterpillar that had 105 square feet and 200 employees in the city. Currently, the campus occupies 3 remanufacturing plants, a logistics center and a little more than 2 thousand people (counting the personnel that works in the remanufacturing area and of logistics working with Caterpillar in the city,) and they have about 600 thousand square feet of infrastructure.
Caterpillar Reman, is located at the FINSA Park and has 600 employees focused in manufacturing injectors; in this park is also located another of their plants they manufacture turbochargers, as well as new parts that go inside injectors; a last plant is located at the Oradel Park where they remanufacture gears, alternators, particle filters, electronic tablets and hydraulic engine parts; in Nuevo Laredo there are 1,800 employees.
The division to which Caterpillar belongs in Nuevo Laredo is of remanufacturing what implies – in addition of the traditional manufacturing processes – one known as ‘reverse logistics’ where a component or assembly that has lost its useful life on the field returns (through this process of reverse logistics) to the plant where remanufacturing will be performed.
The entire process starts when pieces arrive to be completely disassembled; afterwards they go through a washing process and repair of those parts needing being repaired; after this process the product is assembled as it was new.
Caterpillar in Nuevo Laredo manufactures injectors and the entire process must be performed in a clean room due to the specifications – which in this case are of microns – to have an idea a micron equals 1/17 a hair thickness, therefore specifications in this process must be as clean as possible.
Without doubt it has been supporting the growth that has significantly take place, as they grew from a small 20 square feet plant and 30 people, to a one of more than 2 thousand people in 30 years.
He said that in addition of attracting, retaining and developing the talent in the city, it has been one of the main challenges for which they have worked strong regarding the different academic institutions in the city, as well as with the different organisms that help them with the training of the workforce for their employment offer.
Added Luis Hernandez Garcia, operations general manager of Caterpillar in Nuevo Laredo that other challenges have to do with technology, with technological advances that have being present; in order to capture that technology and implement it in their processes, making them efficient and attractive.
Manufacture evolution in Mexico
Luis Hernandez explained about this subject and mainly in Caterpillar, as once the maquila subject started – and of which Caterpillar was not strange of – they settled in Mexico and the first generation was focused in minimizing the cost of added value and maximize the effectiveness and efficiency.
Mexican talent was limited to running production lines and maybe part of the production supervisors integrating were Mexicans. However, the leadership and engineering part belonged to talent from abroad, in this case from the United States, and as the maquila evolved local leadership were generated that substituted those temporary arriving from the United States.
“Leadership development is an important part and also a challenge for us, in such manner that traditional foreign leaderships in the maquilas were substituted; and in case of Caterpillar that was what happened,” said Luis Hernandez.
Today Mexican engineers are given responsibilities and the assignment of generating product and process design; the American engineer no longer comes to install processes, but the Mexican talent with his talent and effort develops the processes and products required to continue being competitive.
“We are before an important juncture within the manufacture industry in Mexico because our local talent has now the responsibility to continue going forward and that it is not enough being a low cost producer – since for that there is global company level – today what sets the difference is the level of competition, capabilities and talent development, mainly in the area of science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” Hernandez explained.
Caterpillar has started to dabble in Industry 4.0 – of course there are efforts developed in an organic manner – currently they are working with techniques and everything related with I4.0.
“We are working hard in data analytics) this is an important part of I4.0 that lead us to have the required information, not only to make decisions, but also for making us predictions based on a series of alternatives that we can have in our decision making,” said Hernandez.
In automation, Caterpillar is working in a conceptualization which is also part of this manufacture industry transformation which are collaborative robots, this is, those that can work with operators.
“Here we are remanufacturing, and something that distinguishes it is that it will never be one piece equal to another one and this is contrary to traditional manufacturing. It is always difficult to automate with industrial robots seen in traditional manufacturing, since a series of decision making is required at the moment you are seeing the piece. However, we have seen collaborative robots can help us in repetitive movement issues that the operation which the operator has not to do anymore, as the robot can fulfill it with higher repetitiveness than an operator,” ended Hernandez.
30 years of career at NLD
We have benefited in a mutual manner the community of Nuevo Laredo and Caterpillar, this plant is one of the most successful in the corporation which generates excellent finance results as well as operational; from the safety point of view it is one of the safest plants, in fact they have received for five consecutive years a safety award granted by the corporate president: “For being the safest plant worldwide,” taking into account that it has more than 500 locations around the world. In addition, the plant in Nuevo Laredo has acquired in two times the Quality Award from the corporate.
Caterpillar in Nuevo Laredo has given good results in its products quality; products related with Caterpillar diesel engines such as injectors for the combustion system, turbochargers, gear and alternators, and electronic control modules.
These products finish their useful life and return to the company to be remanufactured, afterwards are sent to sale in the spare parts market – this is the business model – and the products are Caterpillar brand, same that has a prestige and durability; therefore it is important achieving the remanufactured product being as good as it was new and strong as always.
Nuevo Laredo has provided us with talent developed in the city; we have benefited from Nuevo Laredo; but Nuevo Laredo has also benefited from Caterpillar because as it is a prestige company always covering the city, generating employment, and serving the industry around.
In addition, Caterpillar has a wide social responsibility program, we would like to be a corporate citizen, responsible in our community and we are mainly focused in the educational area, but also in assistance, this way we generate a positive synergy within the community.
Best employment brand
Claudia Contreras Faz, human resources manager for Caterpillar plants in Nuevo Laredo, said that for Caterpillar operations in Nuevo Laredo reaching 30 years represents the consolidation of the company in the community, and not only from a business perspective, as it has been a successful business model throughout its history.
From the perspective or rights and working conditions, Caterpillar Nuevo Laredo has achieving locating within the last years as the ‘Best Employment Brand’ in the area and that is something that make all employees proud, as they have been working as a time to build the best place to work.
“Our working conditions are above many other industries located not only in Nuevo Laredo, but in the region. We are a reference point for our sister plants in Mexico and this is due mostly to Caterpillar practices has regarding employees’ rights respect and their working conditions,” thus was explained by Claudia Contreras, adding that the efforts regarding women issues, youngsters, people with disabilities and people with different backgrounds, make Caterpillar Nuevo Laredo standout as an innovative, flexible and happy workforce.
“There is no higher objective pursued by the organization that promoting an inclusive culture, to be healthy and happy,” said Claudia.