Society for Information Display News
San Diego Chapter Activities in Mexico
Thomas D. Striegler
SID San Diego Chapter Chair
San Diego's Display History
In the early 1970s, one of the first display-related companies to locate in the San Diego area was Sony, followed shortly thereafter by Kyocera, Panasonic, H-P, Proxima, as well as many other domestic and multinational corporations. By taking advantage of labor and property cost advantages, manufacturing operations in San Diego for display-related products such as TVs, monitors, and projectors became highly competitive. However, the growth in San Diego's technology sector reduced the availability of labor, which raised labor costs to a point where San Diego-based display manufacturers relocated operations 30 miles south, to Maquiladoras in Baja California, Mexico.
Maquiladoras – Mexican assembly plants that manufacture finished goods for export – are generally owned by non-Mexican corporations that take advantage of low-cost Mexican labor, advantageous tariff regulations, and the close proximity to U.S. markets. Maquiladoras and the Mexico manufacturing industry attribute big net gains on the bottom line, which are mainly attributable to savings of up to 75% of U.S. labor costs.
The northern part of Mexico is the home to North America's TV and computer-monitor production facilities. Consumer-electronics manufacturers as well as some second-tier OEMs located their production facilities in Baja California. These include:
Source: Producen, CITEDI.
San Diego Chapter Programs in Baja California, Mexico – Push Action
During the early 1990s, the majority of San Diego SID Chapter members worked in companies on the American side of the U.S.–Mexico border. Since then, however, a growing number of members support manufacturing operations in the Maquiladoras across the border. To the Chapter members who established cross-border working relationships, it became clear that the engineering-support personnel in the Maquiladoras would greatly benefit from exposure to SID activities.
In 2001, the San Diego Chapter of SID started an outreach program to the production-support engineers in Mexico. The program consisted of 1-year trial memberships for 20 Mexican engineers. Because of cross-border commuting challenges, the San Diego Chapter decided to schedule display-technology seminars in Tijuana. The first technology seminar, in October 2003, featured Dr. Larry J. Hornbeck of Texas Instruments, who gave a tutorial on digital-light-projector (DLP) technology. The event was attended by 130 professionals from the Baja California, Mexico area, including engineers from TV- and monitor-manufacturing companies, students from CTEDI (an Institute for Digital Circuit Design), CANIETI (the National Electronics Association), and the Chamber of Commerce.
The second annual display technology seminar in November 2004 featured Dr. Gopalan Rajeswaran of Kodak, who delivered a presentation on organic-light-emitting-diode (OLED) technology. The Third Annual Display Technology on October 19, 2005, featured Dr. Robert Melcher from Brillian on liquid-crystal–on–silicon (LCOS) technology in TVs. The attendance at all events exceeded 100 technical people.
Mexico's Pull Action
The attendance of these seminars was a good indicator that Maquiladora engineers value the knowledge that they receive from these seminars. Therefore, it is not surprising that, after the second seminar in November 2004, the Mexican National Electronics Association (CANIETI) requested the San Diego Chapter's assistance with organizing a multi-day Technology Conference in August 2005 to address the potentially serious consequences of failing business growth in the Baja California region. Members of the business, government, and academic communities attended the Technology Conference to explore trends of technology, markets, design, and manufacturing operations that will be required to shape the industries in Mexico for the coming decade. Details of these trends were promoted by the active participation of experts who presented the innovations and technological trends in electronics, automotive, semiconductors, display, and information technology, and biotechnology
In preparation for the Conference, members of the San Diego SID Chapter participated in press conferences and media interviews at the Tijuana Mayor's office and organized and moderated a one-day Display Track that featured SID members as speakers. They included:
David Naranjo, VP TV Industry, DisplaySearch, who delivered the keynote address as well as a talk on "The TV Global Market."
Chris Chinnock, President, Insight Media, "HDTV: Challenge and Opportunity" and "LCOS: Is This the Technology for HDTV Home Theaters?"
Nikhil Balram, Managing Director, National Semiconductor, Display Products Division, TV Display Technologies: "GLV, DLP, LCD, LCOS, and Plasma" and "Semiconductors: Enabling Technologies."
Attendance included representatives of industry, education, and government organizations such as
Eugenio Elorduy Walter, Governor of Baja California.
Teresa Carrillo Prieto, National Executive Director of CANIETI.
Alejandro Gonzalez Fernandez, Director of a public/private science and technology consultancy that advises the President of Mexico.
Jorge Sanchez Gomez, Executive Director of Producen, a public/private think tank for the state government of Baja California.
Sergio Tagliapietra Nassri, Deputy to the Mexican National Congress from the local area who heads up the congressional sci-ence and technology committee.
The success of this first annual conference prompted the decision to hold a 2006 Technology Conference and the San Diego Chapter was again invited to participate with a display track. San Diego Chapter Vice Chairman, Dick Kessler, who is spearheading the Cross-Border activities, is currently planning the display track of the 2006 Technology Forum and the topic of the annual SID Evening Seminar in Tijuana, Mexico, with the cooperation of CANIETE, Salvadore Gonzales and Eduardo Hefferan from Panasonic in Tijuana, and Miguel Ponce from CITEDI.
Centers of Excellence
In the 1960s and early 1970s, Taiwan and Singapore initially attracted foreign technology companies because of their low-cost labor force. When it became evident that labor cost advantages presented severe limits to the growth potential, "Centers of Excellence" were established where government-supported educational institutions focused their curriculum on teaching the technical disciplines required to design and process new products. With the resulting knowledge base and added government incentives, small businesses began to provide locally designed and built components and subassemblies to foreign companies. With the growing success of these small local companies, additional areas of higher-value supplies and services expanded the local content of the foreign products. And as a logical conclusion to the ever-increasing local content, perfect examples are Acer and Quanta located in Taiwan.
Mexico is facing identical challenges, and the First Annual Forum of Technology in August 2005 in Tijuana was a step in the right direction to address the issues. Keeping 20,000 jobs in Baja California may be the driving motivation, but creating small businesses that grow into an entire industry should be the long-term goal.
Because the San Diego Chapter believes in its stated purpose to disseminate display knowledge, it plans to further increase the level of display-technology awareness and to expand assistance to the industrial, educational, and governmental organizations of Mexico in furthering display-related education in Mexico. Therefore, the San Diego Chapter Board unanimously voted to continue to support and fund the Chapter's cross-border activities. •