Are engineers able to transit to Industry 4.0 in the automotive sector? The case of Baja California in Mexico

Type de publication:

Conference Paper


Going Digital, Paris (2020)


The automotive export industry, with first and second tier global automotive suppliers, has been present in Mexico for more than 30 years. During this time, the auto industry has undergone significant internal changes regarding their respective productive segments, the technologies implemented, their organizational systems, and their occupational structures. The most important transformation, however, has been the arrival of different segments of the value chain, leading to an industrial upgrading process through “generations of maquilas.” This process has been accompanied by the development of new technological and human skills.
Externally, backward linkages have also seen a transformation, though to a lesser degree given their small scale. Local suppliers of low value-added services, such as packaging, have been accompanied by more technology-oriented services such as machine tools and the software industry. Consequently, companies that provide solutions for automation systems have emerged.
In an era where technological change dictates the speed at which things are moving, practically all industrial sectors face adjustments as the paradigm changes about what is produced and how it is produced. In regards to this, companies compete to adopt technologies that can allow them to obtain the benefits of a greater technification and digitalization of their operations that in turn can have an impact on efficiency, differentiation and cost in various areas within the organization. This situation has put the spotlight on a topic called "Industry 4.0", which promises substantial transformations to manufacturing environments. Industry 4.0 involves technologies that can be used in different phases of the operation of an organization, which can range from design, production, logistics, sales, and customer service.
The Industry 4.0 is becoming evident in various firms. In Mexico OEMs, leading suppliers, local suppliers, academia and governmental institutions are endeavoring to understand and adapt to I4.0. As in the past, companies are adapting at different rates and speeds these significant transformations, and in the process of adoption are producing hybrid models (Abo, 1994).
To obtain the measure of the current dynamics in Baja California, we followed a quantitative approach via a on-line survey carried out by Axis in June 2019 with manufacturing personnel that are familiar with I4.0. The sample considered collaborators in the production, engineering, quality, and supply chain departments, with organizational positions such as technician, engineer, department manager, general manager, and directors, among others.
The central contribution of this paper comes from information gathered by surveying engineers of the local automotive industry and it’s supply chain, presenting an image of the current situation of the knowledge and use of technologies related to Industry 4.0 within the automotive manufacturing plants in Baja California. It includes statistics, trends, and insights from local auto industry leaders. Finally, the paper summarizes the findings derived from the research and offers suggestions on the way forward. t Through the disclosure of this paper, we expect to generate awareness of the current state of development and the challenges and opportunities arising from the Industry 4.0 model for the auto industry in the entity.


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