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MX23_IN_ALIAN_felipe

MEXICO - Industry

Felipe Villareal

CEO, Alian Plastics

Bio

Felipe Villareal holds a degree in industrial and systems engineering from ITESM, as well as a Global MBA for Latin American Managers from ITESM and Thunderbird, in addition to different certificates in finance, operations, sales, and Lean manufacturing programs. He has worked in plant, operations, and commercial management for more than 22 years, with multifunctional teams from different cultures, including those from India, China, the US, Caribbean, Italy, and Mexico. After graduation, Villareal joined General Electric. He has also held management roles at Pentair and Broad-Ocean Motor. In 2018, he became Managing Director of Alian Plastics. In 2019, he was invited to join the board of INDEX NL.

"We invested heavily in new machines over the last three or four months because of the demand."
Having invested heavily in machines, robots, and Industry 4.0 in recent years, Alian Plastics is in a great position to benefit from the growing interest in environmentally friendly plastics.
How are global developments affecting industrial growth in Mexico?

After the pandemic, companies have found opportunities in services, logistics, and raw materials and want to move manufacturing closer to the biggest markets. Mexico is at an advantage, not just because we are just 200m away from Texas, but also because we are used to working with Americans and international companies. From the perspective of plastic injection and manufacturing, which includes several industries such as automotive, HVAC, toys, and so on, this year has been a huge boom for nearshoring. More and more companies are reaching out to us to help them transfer part of their production systems from other countries to Mexico. Alian is in a great position because we have demonstrated great success in delivering products, and our customers see us as a company that works with our suppliers and customers with 100% integrity, teamwork, and communication. By ourselves, we cannot provide excellence, and we need all our partners, suppliers, customers, and our people beside us.

How was 2H2022 for the company, considering the boom caused by nearshoring?

We invested heavily in new machines over the last three or four months because of the demand. Our current customers are giving us new programs, which require more capacity. We have invested in machines, robots, and Industry 4.0, and 2H2022 has been huge. In the last five weeks alone, we have received 17 different tools for 17 different programs. This is a major step for the company. We plan to increase our manufacturing capacity by about 20%. In 2021, Alian Plastics was 100% automotive industry, and we embarked on a diversification strategy. Today, we serve five different industries: automotive, HVAC, heavy-duty trailers, toys, and garden tools. We specialize in working with international companies. We have been asked to analyze some potential business, perhaps in aerospace. Hopefully, we can expand to serve eight industries. There is now a movement toward fabricating more environmentally friendly automotives and products, and there are therefore engineering changes being made in several industries. This new mindset about fabricating environment-friendly products is an opportunity for plastic injection.

How is plastic in industrial manufacturing eco-friendlier than other materials?

For example, in the automotive sector, there is a shift from gasoline toward electric vehicles and having a battery last longer. Instead of a metal 5kg one, we can construct one in plastic that weighs 1kg, thereby reducing the consumption of electricity and fuel. Furthermore, transporting plastic is cheaper than metal because of their weight. There is a growing tendency in different industries to switch from metal to plastic components. Plastic is also cheaper. Customers and OEMs in the automotive industry are looking for opportunities to lower costs, and plastic fits perfectly in that the approach.

Why is it important to invest in industry 4.0 to maintain competitivity?

If a company serving the automotive industry, HVAC, or any industry with big volumes does not have any software related to 4.0, they will soon be out of business because they need real-time data to make proper decisions faster and resolve any problems that incur during the manufacturing process. In our case, that is plastic injection, which is a specified industry and requires a great deal of technology. We implemented 4.0 software in each plastic injection machine. It provides all the data that companies need in the manufacturing environment. We are certified with IATF 16949. For automotive, we were certified ISO 2015 as well as in UL, which certifies that the resin needed for a specific product is in fact the actual resin being used for the product. We are committed to the environment with our ISO 2001 certification. Even with all those certifications, we strive to provide more value to our customers, which is where we include technology and robots, namely Industry 4.0.

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