News, Insights and Best Practices for Manufacturing in Mexico

Metal-Plating services in Demand in the Mexican Aerospace Industry

19 Apr 2012

Category: Aerospace Manufacturing, Manufacturing in Mexico

One American company has seen its aerospace business soar by developing a sister location, or maquiladora, in Mexico under The Offshore Group’s Mexico Shelter Plan.

“We had been trying to break into Mexico’s aerospace industry from Fridley, but we found a lot of our customers needed metal finishing services available to them in Mexico, given the fact that they are doing more of their manufacturing there, “notes Tim Meador, president and CEO of Fridley, Minnesota-based INCERTEC.

Meador’s company provides specialty plating and metal-finishing services not only for flight technology but also to benefit national defense and medical needs. By opening a plating operation in Empalme Sonora, Mexico, INCERTEC has grown its business by servicing consumers already based there, as well as in other areas in which aerospace industry clusters are located in Mexico.

While INCERTEC’s Minnesota facility mainly serves aerospace and defense, with the last third of its work benefiting the medical industry, Meador says the Empalme plant is “dedicated to aerospace manufacturers in Mexico” as well as to handling some automotive plating and plastics work.

The move to Mexico was an obvious choice, he says.

“The problem is that the metal-plating industry has been made up of ‘mom and pop’ shops,” Meador notes. “INCERTECE of the few that companies that is bringing these metal-plating services down to Mexico. This enables aerospace companies currently producing in Mexico to avoid shipping parts north to have metal-finishing processes done, and then having to ship them back to Mexico for final assembly.” By keeping the product in Mexico throughout production, manufacturers shorten their logistics stream and lower their manufacturing costs, he adds.

This year, the company’s Mexico manufacturing facility has seen staggering growth. In January, its plating and plastics operations in Mexico became viable, and the Empalme location also received its nondestructive testing (NDT) process certification. (NDT employs a wide slate of analyses investigating an object’s material integrity without causing damage or permanent alteration, thus saving time and money not only in product evaluation but also in research and troubleshooting.)

And, just this month, INCERTEC received certification to perform secondary operations (plating and metal-finishing processes) on all of the aerospace parts in Mexico

Meador expects to see 400 percent growth in a very short time.

“The demand is for metal finishing services in Mexico is overwhelming,” he affirms. “This really is a game-changer for a lot of aerospace manufacturing companies in Mexico, because now they will have more options to rethink how they will do business in the country.

Meador’s growth estimates could be right on the money. Aircraft manufacturing in Mexico is one of the country’s biggest areas of development, with national and foreign direct investment to date stretching toward the $14 billion mark. According to Mexico’s recent Aerospace Summit – featuring a variety of experts offering industry analysis and addressing a variety of near-shore manufacturing topics – the aeronautical industry has more than tripled since 2004, with more than 300 manufacturers doing business in Mexico in 2012.

Additionally, the Federacion Mexicana de la Industria Aeroespacial (Femia) approximates that total sales in Mexico's aerospace cluster increased 25 percent between 2010 and 2011 to $4.5 billion. And, with estimates of more than 20,000 commercial carriers needing replacement within the next decade, there’s no sign of deceleration.

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