From Maquiladoras to Modern Factories: The Evolution of Manufacturing in Mexico

From Maquiladoras to Modern Factories: The Evolution of Manufacturing in Mexico

Published On: August 17, 2023

From Maquiladoras to Modern Factories: The Evolution of Manufacturing in Mexico

Published On: August 17, 2023

For several decades, Mexico’s maquiladora industry—also known as the maquila industry—has played a pivotal role in the country’s manufacturing landscape. Emerging in the 1960s, maquiladoras were conceived as export-oriented manufacturing plants that capitalized on Mexico’s strategic geographic location and its favorable trade agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and its successor, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Here, we explore what you need to know about modern maquiladoras.

The Rise of Maquiladoras in Mexico

Maquiladoras initially focused on assembly operations, leveraging the benefits of low labor costs and proximity to the United States. By importing raw materials and components duty-free, maquiladoras added value through efficient manufacturing processes and the ability to export finished products to the United States and other international markets. Over the years, this model has presented an attractive opportunity for companies seeking to optimize production costs while maintaining access to the lucrative North American market.

Early on, Maquiladoras served as a vital link in the global supply chain, allowing companies to take advantage of Mexico’s lower labor costs without compromising on product quality. The abundance of skilled and motivated workers in the country, combined with the favorable trade agreements, made Mexico an ideal manufacturing destination for industries as varied as automotive, consumer electronics, and textiles, among others.

Over time, the maquiladora industry has undergone a significant evolution, transforming traditional maquiladoras into modern factories that embrace advanced technologies, highly skilled labor, and integrated supply chains. This transformation has been driven by several key factors, and its evolution is showing no signs of slowing down.

The Evolution of the Modern Factory

There are several factors driving the continued evolution of the maquiladora industry today:


As global manufacturing becomes increasingly automated and digitalized, Mexican factories are investing in cutting-edge technologies. Robotics, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), and advanced manufacturing processes are being adopted to enhance efficiency, productivity, and quality control across a variety of manufacturing sectors. This shift toward technology-driven manufacturing has positioned Mexico as a highly competitive player in the global market.

Skill and Labor

Mexico boasts a talented and motivated workforce, with a strong emphasis on technical education and vocational training programs. Engineers, supervisors, and professionals in various fields contribute to the country’s skilled labor pool. This highly trained workforce enables companies to implement complex manufacturing processes and innovation-driven strategies on Mexican soil without the need to hire and train locally, nor the imperative to relocate managers.

Economic Diversification

While Mexico has traditionally been known for its strength in industries such as automotive, aerospace, and electronics, the country has been actively diversifying its manufacturing capabilities in recent years. Sectors including medical devices, consumer products, textiles, and more are gaining prominence by the day. This diversification allows businesses from a wide range of industries to leverage Mexico’s expanding manufacturing expertise.

Global Supply Chain Integration

Mexican manufacturing has evolved to become an integral part of global supply chains. The nation’s proximity to the United States, coupled with favorable trade agreements like the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), can provide companies with easy access to a wide variety of markets and a streamlined supply chain around the world. Manufacturing companies can incorporate just-in-time practices, reducing transportation costs and improving overall operational efficiency.

The Role of Government

Mexican government policies have played a crucial role in fostering the evolution of manufacturing in the country. Initiatives like the IMMEX Program (formerly known as the Maquiladora Program) have provided tax incentives, regulatory support, and simplified customs procedures, making Mexico an attractive destination for manufacturing investment. These policies afford business-friendly environments while promoting competition.

How Manufacturing in Mexico Can Bolster Your Business

Manufacturing in Mexico offers several advantages for companies seeking to optimize production and reduce costs while maintaining a North American manufacturing presence. By leveraging Mexico’s skilled labor, favorable trade agreements, cost-saving opportunities, and administrative support services, businesses can:

  • Capitalize on the benefits of the USMCA and the IMMEX Program.
  • Benefit from energy cost savings as well as a highly skilled and productive workforce.
  • Access diverse manufacturing industries and tap into specialized expertise.
  • Implement efficient manufacturing practices and streamline supply chains.
  • Focus on core production and quality control while relying on administrative and compliance support from experts at NAPS.

Over the last 60 years, the transformation from maquiladoras to modern factories has truly revolutionized Mexican manufacturing. Technological advancements, skilled labor, economic diversification, global supply chain integration, and government policies have collectively propelled Mexico’s manufacturing sector forward. Moving manufacturing operations to Mexico can be a strategic option, and by doing so, businesses across many sectors can gain a competitive edge in today’s global marketplace.

To take the first step, learn more about manufacturing in Mexico and maquiladoras in Mexico by browsing the detailed information on our site. Then, for personalized assistance, contact us directly to see how NAPS can support your business transformation.

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