Sonora: Giving Rise to the Aerospace Manufacturing Industry

September 28, 2016

In the past decade, aerospace manufacturing has become one of the fastest growing industries in Mexico.The state of Sonora has the 2nd most productive Mexican aerospace cluster that maintains supply chains to support overall industry growth. Clusters function as a network of partnerships working in the same space or region to foster collaboration between government, schools, and private industry. Aerospace clusters implement complex production and technological skills. These regions advance the knowledge and efficiency of the industry.

Aerospace Industry Cooperation with Sonora

Coordinated strategies from supply chain companies in the state of Sonora contribute quality turbine and engine components from accessibility to materials, best practices, and performance. The Economic Development Council for Sonora (EDCS) worked to bring in industry specialists and to provide resources to companies manufacturing turbines and engine components. Implementing a cluster specialization allows accessibility to materials, and provides a conducive business environment. The cluster is comprised of 64 companies that operate in Sonora and have acquired top certifications like AS9100.

Sonora has become a competitive region for aerospace manufacturing, specifically in the city of Guaymas where Rolls-Royce has a supply chain office. Williams International and Ellison Surface Technologies, among others, have helped build a connection between key suppliers in Mexico and enhance the aerospace cluster. Tetakawi's Director of Market Development Mike Smith, describes Sonora’s cluster as a “successful evolution because Rolls-Royce saw an opportunity in local capabilities and decided this is where they need to establish a department of excellence.” The mature workforce has given rise to many opportunities of growth in the region.

Aerospace Manufacturing Workforce in Sonora

Skills acquired in the cluster facilitate natural expansion into other aerospace structures, and strengthen the need for aerospace manufacturing. Sonora fosters tier 1 and tier 2 companies that provide precision machining, casting, and forging, along with electrical systems that include harnesses, wiring, cables and connectors. Future expansion into various aerospace structures is a “natural evolution of commodities that come from specialization in turbine engines,” Smith states. As the value chain of engine components improves, more knowledge and skills are acquired to accommodate new parts and higher skilled manufacturing.

The development of knowledge and skills over the past decade has enabled Sonora to leverage their talent and become a leading competitor in Mexico. in 2015, over 10,500 people of various skill levels worked in the aerospace industry and 29,203 students were enrolled in Sonoran engineering and technology programs. With an established aeronautical background and a growing engineering pipeline, Sonora is gearing up for technology advancements in the aerospace manufacturing sector.

Aerospace Industry Advancements

Along with a skilled workforce and an informed education system, the Sonoran government understands the importance of maintaining the aerospace industry and has boosted efforts to promote and stay ahead of industry advancements. Smith states how the government “tends to bring in important airshows and events.” The government’s support for the industry enables the state to leverage their advantages as a border region by expounding on their infrastructure reform and international ports. With these added connections to the United States and the rest of the world, Sonora has become a hub for the aerospace manufacturing industry.

The Sonoran aerospace clusters are comprised of various factors contributing to their success - industry production, evolution in product knowledge, advanced skills, government support, and location are part of Mexico’s future aeronautical growth. As aerospace manufacturing is on the rise, the future for supply chain clusters in Mexico looks promising.
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