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Interview with undersecretary of industry and commerce, Rogelio Garza Garza by Iván Iglesias

What is the federal government’s strategy regarding Industry 4.0 (i4.0)?

We are keeping close tabs on what other coun- tries are doing as far as i4.0 is concerned and at- tend meetings of the OECD, G20 and the World Economic Forum where this issue takes up most of the agenda. Based on these experiences, we have opted to implement best human capi- tal practices and are focusing on the technolo- gies of the future that need to be given priority in our public policies. We are also in the process of drawing up a legal framework.

What challenges does Mexico face as regards implementing this new technology?

One of the main problems is that technology progresses faster than we can implement it. Other major challenges include training human capital in the right areas, promoting the technol- ogies at the core of this new production model, finding ways for small and mid-sized companies to join productive chains and making headway on laws to provide a framework for these new industrial guidelines.

What will happen if our technology is obsolete?

Technological change is taking place very rap- idly in all kinds of industries and it’s hard for companies to keep up. In the past, factories could retool every 20 years, but that’s not the case anymore. It’s a sign of the times and com- panies need to adopt new technologies if they want to remain competitive.

Where does Mexico stand right now vis-à-vis i4.0?

Mexico has been paying a lot of attention to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We lead the way in Latin America and are actively involved in the main international forums where these is- sues are discussed. Also, we are doing techno- logically innovative things that are of appeal to other countries. Internationally, we are among the countries that are most interested in adher- ing to best practices, so we can catch this huge wave and ride it to our advantage.

Which sector will benefit most from i4.0 technologies in the medium term?

The Fourth Industrial Revolution will impact all sectors. Some of these, like the aerospace and au- tomotive industries, are slightly more advanced because of their dynamics and the standards the products they manufacture have to meet. Biotechnology is another sector that has made huge progress, namely with regard to research into new materials and their industrial applica- tions and, naturally, information technologies, which help make other industries more produc- tive and more competitive and will continue to do so into the future.

What actions have been taken to develop the applications of these new technologies?

One concrete action we have taken has been to teach new skills to existing factory workers and train new human capital. As regards tech- nology, we have pinpointed the main areas that are going to take off and that are going to be a priority in the future —Big Data, the Internet of Things, network security, 4.0 logistics, au- tomation and robotization. We are also in the process of adapting government programs to promote these technologies and facilitate the development of i4.0 models.

Another area we’ve put a lot of work into is the drawing up of a legal framework. To give you a simple example, what are we going to do with business models like Uber and Airbnb that have emerged from the Fourth Industrial Revolution? These new technology-driven platforms will con- tinue to crop up and if we are adaptable enough to adopt them as models and incorporate them into our daily lives, then we’ll be one step ahead.

What role will small and mid-sized enterprises play in this new industrial revolution?

They are vital to the process. In Mexico, small and mid-sized companies create almost 90% of the country’s jobs. If we can’t get them to adopt the i4.0 model, global companies give their busi- ness to whoever does.

How does your department plan on developing technology clusters in Mexico? The know-how generated in clusters is essential to technological development. In other words, only where know-how co-exists with new busi- ness models and human capital can new tech- nologies be created and existing ones adapted. The subject of clusters is top of the agenda and we are looking for ways to create ones that generate positive synergies and pave the way for know-how, value and innovation.

What i4.0 developments will Mexico be showcasing at the 2018 edition of HANNOVER MESSE?

Hannover Messe is a very important industri- al trade show and, as such, a valuable opportu- nity to show the world what Mexico is capable of in the aeronautical, automotive, energy and other sectors, and in the area of R&D. It is pre- cisely at events like these that we need to dem- onstrate we have fully grasped the change in paradigm, that we are transforming our human capital and legal framework accord- ingly, and are willing to adopt new technologies.

What i4.0 strengths do we want to demonstrate at HANNOVER MESSE?

One of our main strengths lies in our human capital, which is of sufficient size, capacity and standard. Also, we are clear about what kind of technologies we want to adopt, have an effective network of free trade agreements and are in the process of putting together and implementing a legal framework to prop up everything that comes with i4.0.

More information about Partner Country Mexico