Important industries of Cd. Juarez have fulfilled important strategies to automate production lines on their companies
For two centuries, automation has been a constant in all kind of Industry. The use and application of machines and technology to perform automatic processes is increasingly common in different sectors. The maquila is not the exception, on the contrary. Within this sector is a leader and an example to be followed for all kind of companies. Currently, companies such as Genpact and Aptiv fulfill automation practices that imply advantages not only for those that implement them, but for its employees and customers, practices that could help other companies fulfilling this transition of the XXI century.
APTIV: balancing technology and workforce
APTIV also incorporates to the XXI century with automation. According to Claudia Jimenez, manufacture manager of Aptiv Plant I, automation is the use of new technologies seeking to incorporate improvements in the use of workforce and, at the same time, the integration of more specialization and knowledge from the personnel, which implies challenges, changes and new job opportunities.
Jimenez made clear that automating some parts of the plant has been challenging, since they were not familiarized with technology; however, she recognized that there is a good preparation regarding personnel, technicians and engineers for these changes.
The investment in automated equipment has been high. In average, Jimenez calculated that the amount of investment in the last 2 years has been of approximately 20 million dollars. However, she considered that the amount is worth it, as it allows minimizing situations that also take place in other plants, such as the turnover aspect. “In the city, for two years we have had a strong turnover problem. When we have this level of dependency on workforce and we begin implementing these technologies, it is easier to recover the investment,” she shared.
Jimenez considered that the use of new technologies implied a paradigm change also for operators, but as in Genpact, the change also implies more specialization from their part. “When they see new equipment arriving, the first reaction is the fear of losing their jobs. But as their training begins, people see the advantages of the equipment because they will have to specialize to manage them. In some cases, they see the need up to retake their studies,” Jimenez noted.
Despite some cases the personnel had to be reduced, in other cases Aptiv has moved its personnel from lines, absorbing thus the turnover levels. This way, the personnel circulates inside the operative areas of the same company.
Up to the moment, the parts Aptiv Juarez I has automated are two: Media Modules dedicated to the assembly of modules for USB connection to smart phones and FORD CD6, which is an hybrid between an electronic part and a traditional part of electric centrals. They are also working in a new project to automate the insertion of fusible that will be started at the end of 2018.
Aptiv uses different ways to train their personnel – local suppliers, national and international – but a strategy they use is crossing training. This training consists in that more prepared technicians and engineers train small groups of operators.
Jimenez considered that one of the automation consequences is the investment in training for operators are more skillful. On the other hand, having more qualified operators, has the risk of that when companies with similar processes are opened the personnel becomes attractive to them. The challenge for the company is to maintain a working environment in which workers are comfortable, encouraged and happy in such manner that they do not seek migrating to other companies. “If we achieve keep them hooked and committed with Aptiv, people will not leave,” she ended.
Continental: robots and personnel working together
In Continental automation is present through collaborative robots called cobots. Francisco Delgado, control supervisor, explained that for the last few years they have incorporated cobots on its different production areas aimed to increase productivity, but also to safeguard the employee’s health. “There are tasks that commit the ergonomic movements of the employee that can damage their joints.
These tasks are automated by robots more friendly than the conventional,” he said.
For Delgado, cobots are not coming to remove employees from the personnel, but on the contrary. “For the personnel, these robots are fellow workers with unlimited possibilities: it has strength, never gets tired and will do tasks that they cannot do,” he clarified. Likewise, this incorporation allows employees acquire new knowledge and position in other level inside the company. “There is a career and training plan for each Continental employee, therefore we seek the growth and development of people inside the company.”
In Continental, most of the processes are semi-automated. According to Delgado, only few are still manual and are limited to due to their complexity, are still managed by humans. “On these processes, the machine is supplied of raw material, goes through cells, are processed, for then be packaged. The packaging and final review is made by people,” he explained.
The price of these collaborative robots ranges among 31 thousand dollars. In a short term future, Continental will implement 40 cobots in those lines where the quality of the fulfilled products is compromised.
Genpact: automatization with win – win philosophy
For Luis Trejo, director of Genpact Mexico, automation in Genpact has been an undeniable reality that has explored this way of working for five years. They started with the initiative “Lean Digital” in which they sought mixing their company basics with digitalization, what allowed them evolving their way of making business. “We transformed from an organization of services to an organization supplying digital solutions,” he explained.
In Latin America case, Genpact has implemented bots to fulfill in a semi-automated manner, tasks highly critical for the operation, but are repetitive, which increases the quality and efficiency of its services. An example is the billing process. “Previously, a person had to fulfill this process in a 5 to 10 minutes period. Now a bot can do it in 30 seconds,” Trejo underlined.
At the same time than the implementation of the Robotic Process Automation (RPA,) Genpact develops its working personnel, as these boots do not imply the loss of the employees’ jobs, but higher jobs. “Once bots are implemented in some operation, we need people that that provide maintenance to them, manage the design, update the process rules and monitors them,” he said.
Likewise, Genpact has completely automated processes, fulfilled by artificial intelligence. The set of software has a match and learning component, what allows creating their own algorithms of all the information that is given and make decisions in function of previous record.
For Trejo, automation is a growing model not only in Genpact, but in the industry in general.