EMSNOW Mexico Executive Interview: Jaime Arreola Gutierrez, LATAM GM, PEMTRON

EMSNOW caught up with Jaime Arreola Gutierrez, who is LATAM GM at PEMTRON.  Jaime is a computer science engineer with a Masters in Software Development. He started his career in 2006 as an applications engineer and since then has been focused on inspection equipment. He has worked as a professor at the University of Guadalajara in multiple subjects related to computer science and is currently an active member of the SMTA Guadalajara Chapter Committee.

EMSNOW: Tell us about your background, how you landed in the electronics industry and your current role at PEMTRON?

In 2006 I was invited to work as a Service & Applications Engineer for an inspection equipment company, until 2009 when I joined a Representation Company dedicated mainly for professional services in electronics testing. Currently I’m responsible for the management of the Regional office of PEMTRON in Mexico and the operations in South America for Sales and Service.

EMSNOW: Please give us an overview of PEMTRON’s business in Mexico.

As you know, PEMTRON is a company dedicated to provide Inspection solutions for the electronic industry in multiple areas; in Mexico, PEMTRON has grown to become one of the key suppliers of inspection equipment offering specialized custom solutions. The majority of our equipment is focused on SMT inspection; we believe we are a very successful in this market.

Currently, our Eagle 8800 TWIN with Top and Bottom inspection has been very popular with our customers for their backend inspection processes.

EMSNOW: Where does PEMTRON build its inspection systems? Is any of the assembly done in Mexico?

Currently PEMTRON manufactures all our equipment in our factory in Incheon, South Korea. We increased our production capability in 2022 by acquiring an additional building with capacity of 300 new machines per month.

There is no plan for assembly of equipment in Mexico at the moment.

EMSNOW: What is your current customer base in Mexico? Are your customers primarily in the automotive industry?

Our installed base is distributed among 80 different customers in Mexico, located across the country, from Tijuana to Morelos. Based on our records, 60% of them are producing for the automotive industry mainly in the Northeast region of the country.

EMSNOW: What are the main inspection challenges for electronics manufacturers serving the automotive market?

The main points the customers are concern about is the detection capability and ease of use and programming. There has been a high percentage of personal rotation which pushes the customer for quick reaction times specially regarding training and ramp up of their processes.

Keeping up with this rate requires a constant support and monitoring of the customer’s teams in order for them to be able to accomplish targets.

EMSNOW: Does PEMTRON plan to expand into other sectors like semiconductor manufacturing?

PEMTRON has been developing equipment for Semiconductor inspection for a few years now; our current catalog includes equipment for Wire Bonding Inspection, Wafers, Memory modules, Chip in Film, etc.

We expect our share on this market to keep growing due to our alliances with current customers setting up new facilities globally.

EMSNOW: What impact do you think the recent tariffs on EVs from China will have on your customers?

We have seen reduction in investment, mainly due to the uncertainty of the market and the decrease of EV Sales in first world economies. Currently in Mexico and South America, the EV market is pushing to achieve the targets and we expect to keep steady until the end of this year.

EMSNOW: What other trends do you see impacting the customer base in Mexico?

During previous conversations with our customers, one of the common comments is the lack of specialized workforce; new people aren’t as interested in working in the electronics manufacturing field.

New generations are looking for a different type of labor where they work remotely, which is hard in our industry specially for positions that demand presence on the line.

The reduced investment has pushed some companies to decrease the workforce which creates an increase on responsibilities for the people that stay in their positions, with the consequence that creates a higher demand of services from the suppliers in order to compensate for the missing hands.

EMSNOW: How do you address these workforce challenges? Does PEMTRON have training programs and relationships with universities to attract talent?

Besides the lack of workforce, we have encountered a decrease in the interest of learning from the production engineers, pushing the supplier to provide additional services to fulfill the expectations of the processes.

Workforce has been overloaded with responsibilities lately which allows them to reduce the time dedicated for each process and missing specialized team members who could better support the process.

PEMTRON has created a program for training in order to increase the capabilities and expertise of the engineers on the field, which would lead our customer to obtain the best performance and use of their equipment; this program is focused on the specialization in different areas which also helps the engineers in their personal careers.

Currently we are working with a few universities in order to provide a residence program which would give the new grads the opportunity to get experience in a very specialized sector and give them the possibility for a better position in other areas.

EMSNOW: What is your outlook for the business in the rest of 2024?

The market is recovering slowly, but it creates a feeling of certainty in the air which motivates multiple suppliers and companies to create new action plans.

We expect the market to be better in the second half of this year and we are targeting for a high level of activities by 4th quarter.

Hopefully this will continue until the beginning of 2025 in order to create momentum; we are focusing on this and making plans for a proper response to our customers and their needs.

x Brown

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