A look at EXPOMAFE 2019 – Brazil’s machine tool industry is fully embracing Industry 4.0

Metalworking News was privileged to be invited by ABIMAQ – The Brazilian Machine Tool Builders’ Association – to attend the second edition of the highly successful and largest Latin American trade show for the machine tool and industrial automation industries in Brazil – EXPOMAFE 2019. Brazil looks to grow revenue both locally and abroad.

EXPOMAFE 2019 boasted more than 750 exhibitors

For the first time in nearly 10 years, Metalworking News received the prestigious honour of being one of only two international press representatives invited to attend Latin America’s largest machine tool show – EXPOMAFE 2019 – Brazil International Machine Tool and Industrial Automation Exhibition. This publication had previously visited FEIMAFE and MECÂNICA, two other well-known machine tool exhibitions that take place in that country. The biennial event – this year being only the second edition of the show – took place in one of the largest cities in the world, São Paulo, Brazil, from May 7 – 11 2019 at the São Paulo Expo Exhibition and Conference Centre in the south eastern district of Vila Água Funda.

ABIMAQ – The Brazilian Machine Tool Builders’ Association – founded in 1975, represents more than 7 800 companies from the different segments of the mechanical capital goods industries, whose performance has a direct impact on the other national production sectors. It is structured across a few Brazilian states and comprises of 10 regional offices with its headquarters in São Paulo.

Beyond the institutional representation of the sector, ABIMAQ has its professional management and its activities aimed at generating commercial opportunities for its associates, carrying out actions in political and economic instances, stimulating international trade and cooperation and contributing to improving performance in terms of technology, human resources training and managerial modernisation. At a government level, where it has a powerful voice, ABIMAQ focuses on innovation and technological development, attracting investments, arranging competitive financing, creating incentives for exports, as well as areas of trade protection.

São Paulo is home to some 22 million people

While some things have changed since our last visit, others certainly have not. One need only travel through downtown Sampa, as the locals refer to their vibrant and cosmopolitan city that is home to some 22 million people, during rush hour traffic to realise that everyone, including scooter riders, firmly believe that they are Ayrton Senna. While motorbikes and scooters bob and weave through the numerous lanes at alarming speeds, things seem to have some kind of order to them, and the traffic has a certain natural flow to it… Once you get used to the toot tooting of the almost constant hooting from scooters announcing their presence and intention to pass your vehicle with centimetres to spare, that is.

However, what hasn’t changed is the Brazilian lust to want to be the country of the future. There remains a certain desire amongst the population to want to realise their full potential and to tap into the wealth of opportunity that the country possesses. Unfortunately, for the most part, and similarly to here at home in South Africa, politics has interfered greatly since the 1980s and limited that conceivable progression.

Yet, there is hope, because now after five years of political crisis, social uprisings and economic woes, things can only get better than they were. Positive measures by the new right-wing populist president Jair Bolsonaro and his government to root out the rot began in earnest as of 1 January 2019 when Bolsonaro took office. These measures launched with what has now become the largest anti-corruption investigation in world history, and a good few of those responsible for graft – including past presidents – have been brought to book with significant terms of imprisonment being handed out.

But, the greatest recurring challenge remains: How to successfully address the large disparities of wealth and abundant poverty amongst the population. While an overall economic recovery is nowhere in sight, there are optimistic examples such as the manufacturing industry, which has seen growth.

Trumpf had a variety of machining solutions on show and reported that it finalised sales for at least 13 machines including 10 TruLaser 1030 fiber machines at the show alone

Perhaps this industry will be able to experience further growth as the trade wars between the US and China continue to affect economies worldwide. Brazilian machinery and component exports to the US have been growing steadily and while sales into Latin America have declined, there are improved trade relations between another big consumer of Brazilian machinery and components – Mexico.

What also hasn’t changed of course, is football, or futebol in Portuguese, the most widely spoken language amongst the diverse cultures found across Brazil. You want to talk about futebol? Just ask anyone. It is, as you have heard, a religion in that country. And when there is a big game on, like there was during our visit – top-of-the-table of the top-tier Brazilian league Brasileirão Série A, and São Paulo-based Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras, or just Palmeiras, were playing at home – you can feel the city reduce its perpetual pace as patrons congregate at cafes and bars and indulge in some futebol. It really is a way of life for Brazilians.

A resounding success
By all accounts the second edition of EXPOMAFE was a resounding success with much business being concluded there and then at the show – Trumpf reported that it finalised sales for at least 13 machines including 10 TruLaser 1030 fiber machines.

The 2019 edition was 25% larger in exhibition area than the inaugural EXPOMAFE in 2017, with more than 55 000 visitors attending the exhibition to view the more than 750 national and international exhibition stands and pavilions. More than 40 companies from nine different countries chose to exhibit including those from Germany, China, Korea, Spain, France, Italy, Japan, the Czech Republic and the United Sates. That figure is almost double the number compared to the 2017 edition.

The KUKA RoboCoaster wowed crowds

Exhibition space sold out 60 days before the event took place and the event itself was attended by Brazilians of all walks of life as well as people from more than 30 other nations. Many exhibitors reported on the quality of the attendees and these were made up of buyers, engineers, technicians, executives and coordinators, specialists in products and processes, suppliers of all segments of the metalworking sector, logistics technicians, machinery and equipment manufacturers and other professionals of engineering involved in the industrial, maintenance, production, quality and manufacturing fields.

Many young people and students also visited the show and this is encouraging to see as Brazil faces the massive uphill task of creating jobs for its people. The local manufacturing industry just so happens to be one of those industries that is currently creating jobs as it begins to visualise glimmers of hope and opportunity post the political turmoil.

Robots were a central theme at the exhibition

On show were the latest innovations from manufacturers of accessories (devices and components), quality control procedures integrated with manufacturing and measurement devices, industrial automation, robotics and the integration of manufacturing cells, hydraulic and pneumatic equipment, valves, pumps and compressors, handling and storage equipment, hand tools and cutting tools, machinery and general equipment for the metalworking industry at large, machine tools, welding and cutting equipment, additive manufacturing machinery including devices for prototyping and 3D printers, as well as the latest software.

Theme of interconnectivity
The theme of the exhibition was to embrace industry 4.0 and bring together young and old by showing visitors what the potential of modern manufacturing has to offer in the now very present and happening fourth industrial revolution: That of the relationship between man and machine. One of the main attractions at EXPOMAFE was the Demonstration of Technologies pavilion. The pavilion has been in use since 2016 at other shows such as at the first FEIMEC – International Machinery and Equipment Fair.

The Demonstration of Technologies pavilion

Essentially, “The Demonstrator brings together a set of clusters with technological solutions that demonstrate, in practice, the possibilities for small, medium and large companies to advance in areas of industry 4.0. The project counts on the participation of machinery and equipment companies, automation and control, business management software, production and processes, startups, universities, agencies and development banks,” states the official EXPOMAFE description. It is designed and arranged in such a way that it allows an individual to physically and visually interact with the various processes and technologies that have evolved and led to the modern smart factory’s development.

These clusters included: Predictive Maintenance – Pneumatic Systems; Secure Robotics – Interaction with Man-Machine; Intelligent Production Systems; Quality 4.0 – Autonomy and Artificial Intelligence in Processes; Additive Manufacturing – Generative Design; Digital Management; Industrial Virtualisation; Industrial Data Gains; and Predictive Maintenance Machining Processes and Machine Intelligence. The initiative is the result of a partnership between EXPOMAFE 2019, ABIMAQ and IPDMAQ (Institute for Research and Technological Development of the Machinery and Equipment Industry).

Technological evolution
One of the many exciting attractions and extensions to the Demonstrator pavilion was the Space Technology in Evolution theme, created to illustrate the evolution of industrial technology. Present was a life-size replica of the 14-bis and Demoiselle aeroplanes, originally conceptualised and manufactured by Brazilian-born Alberto Santos-Dumont (1873 – 1932) at the beginning of the 20th century. He was the son of a large coffee plantation owner and was granted economic freedom and independence and encouraged to move to Paris during the twilight of the 19th century. It was his love of literature such as Around the World in Eighty Days, 20 000 Leagues Under the Sea and Propeller Island that fuelled his fascination and passion for technology, and which ultimately led to him designing and manufacturing the 14-bis.

A replica of the famous 14-bis aircraft

In order to be as accurate as possible and to remain conscious of the importance of preserving the history of aviation, the replicas have been constructed using the same materials as the originals – Japanese silk, Indian bamboo and piano cable. The replicas – which can actually take to the air, believe it or not – are also symbolic of Brazil’s long associated history with technology and manufacturing.

Also connected to this was KUKA’s RoboCoaster – the first licensed industrial robot to carry people. Shrieks and gasps for air could be heard as visitors got their chance to ride the robot. Its presence was not only to attract attention, but also to show the symbolic relationship between man and machine, and the evolution of this symbiotic relationship through time. We are now, after all, in the age of the cobot, an age where man and machine must interact in the same workspace.

Signs of recovery and growth in certain areas
As far as the current economic climate is looking for the industry, it was reported that year on year to March 2019 net equipment revenue was stable, however the first quarter of this year experienced growth of 6%, largely fuelled by an 18% increase in local demand for manufacturing equipment. While growth is expected to slow and stabilise during the course of the year, net revenue is still expected to be higher than that of 2018. February figures also indicated positive growth in industries exporting machines and components.

Padrag Patel, of United Tools Ltd. from Nairobi, Kenya was amongst the international buyers invited to EXPOMAFE 2019. Padrag was yet another person impressed with the show

Machines for logistics and civil construction saw growth of 57%, while a 42.8% increase in sales for the capital goods industry was observed, and particularly noteworthy was the 141% increase in the sales of industrial valves. Total exports of machinery and related components have decreased year on year by about 12%, however exports to the US have increased by 17% for the same period. Sales into Latin America have been at their lowest in 10 years. Around 50% of all machinery and component exports have gone into the US and Europe, with sales into China dipping. While imports remained relatively similar to 2018, March 2019 saw a spike of roughly 12%. Imports of machines into the agriculture and capital goods component sectors have increased significantly year on year, growing 21.1% and 11.6% respectively.

China remains the main source of these imports, both in terms of value and volume. Imports from the US remain on the decline amid a renewed positive preference for domestically produced products, as well as for those produced in China. Employment growth has also been experienced across various sectors of the manufacturing industry year on year with some 6 000 new jobs created.

Lucilaine Miranda of ConAn and Gavin Bailey of Clifford Machines and Technology. ConAn are the official distributors of Clifford Machines in Brazil. Pictured to their right is a resistance welding machine for high speed production manufactured by ConAn

Not only does this indicate that there is positive and increased interest in Brazil’s manufacturing economy, but it may also signify further growth for the industry and that the internal market is making a recovery post the country’s political turmoil. While the storm is not over, everyone Metalworking News spoke to expressed positive sentiments about the possible recovery of the internal market.

Among the local exhibitors present was the well-known multinational Industrias Romi S.A., or Romi as it is more colloquially known. Founded in 1930, Romi is the market leader in the Brazilian machinery production market and manufactures a variety of machine tools such as mechanical lathes, CNC lathes, turning centers, vertical and horizontal milling machines, heavy duty and extra heavy duty lathes, as well as plastic injection moulding and plastic blow moulding machines. Romi’s products are consumed globally and are used across a variety of industries ranging from light and heavy automotive products, to agriculture, capital goods, tooling, hydraulic and wind power. The group also has its own modern foundry based outside of São Paulo at its industrial complex. The foundry is extremely capable of producing superior quality castings and can deliver them already machined.

Metalworking News met with Fabio Barbanti Taiar – CFO and Investor Relations at Romi, and who is also President, Sectorial Chamber of Machine Tools and Integrated Manufacturing Systems at ABIMAQ, and Edmerquis Marchesini, International Sales Manager (Latin America) for Romi. Both expressed optimistic attitudes regarding the current growth potential in the market locally and abroad, and what a resounding success the show was. “It’s about automation and productivity, that’s what we are trying to bring to the customer. The customer is prepared to invest more when seeking advances in their productivity levels,” said Taiar.

Fabio Taiar, CFO and Investor Relations at Romi, and who is also President, Sectorial Chamber of Machine Tools and Integrated Manufacturing Systems at ABIMAQ, and Edmerquis Marchesini, International Sales Manager (Latin America) for Romi, with a Romi D800 vertical machining center that is capable of both removing and adding material

“We have a presence all over Latin America and parts of Europe like the UK, Spain, France, Italy and Germany, and our goal now is to consolidate and further improve our presence in these regions. Not only are we strategically growing our technical support in these regions, but we are also opening new showrooms. Globally the consumption of machines and tools has grown, and should there be a crisis, even a recession, and investments fall, for example in the US or China, we are ready for that global market,” continued Taiar.

Romi’s products are consumed globally and are used across a variety of industries ranging from light and heavy automotive products, to agriculture, capital goods, tooling, hydraulic and wind power. The group also has its own modern foundry based outside of São Paulo at its industrial complex

Marchesini explained: “We want to offer complete machining solutions to our customers. The Mexican market is strategic for us, and we are entering and growing new markets such as the automotive and service suppliers’ markets as well as those of the aerospace and oil industries. I recently actually sold two machines into Mozambique, and they’ll be used in the rail industry there.”

Potential for growth in exports
José Velloso, Executive President at ABIMAQ, reiterated what Taiar said in that there had been signs of recovering growth in the industry and that there had been an increase in exports to places like the US. “In Europe, there is a crisis starting, and a good result will be the stabilisation of sales there. Exports to Argentina have been falling, but the mining sector in Chile has been good, and things have been positive in Peru and Columbia too.”

José Velloso, Executive President at ABIMAQ

“We are the 10th main machinery manufacturer in the world, and only second to India in terms of emerging countries. We are able to integrate technology the way they do around the world, and if Chinese machines face barriers to entry into the US, the market opens up further for us. On the new government’s agenda are constitutional changes that we believe will allow Brazil to grow again, perhaps 1% this year and 2% in 2020.”

The adoption of Industry 4.0 in Brazil
Metalworking News also sat down for a frank conversation with João Delgado, Director of Technology at ABIMAQ and President of IPDMAQ, on where the industry and Brazil is on the spectrum of Industry 4.0. An animated man and a man very passionate about his country and work said: “We have implemented programmes to take the industry forward. The technology is available and we are implementing it here in Brazil. Integration is the key and so too is the importance of connecting everything inside the company. It’s about showing the entrepreneur how to improve production. Despite there being a talent crisis, we have the engineers and the minds for Industry 4.0 – even small-scale farmers can benefit from the advances in technology. We have the ability to skip phases, if you are in Industry 2.0, you can skip to Industry 4.0.”

João Delgado, Director of Technology at ABIMAQ and President of IPDMAQ

“You will have found the most up to date technologies here at EXPOMAFE and this is evidence of Brazil’s commitment to Industry 4.0. We now need to grow the necessary skills needed to feed the industry – analytics, data, artificial intelligence – that’s what we need now. Public policy in these matters is delayed and we need to requalify the workforce for these new jobs that are being created. We need people to start looking at the processes of production differently. And we need to change the face of the factory floor and make it more attractive to the youth.”

Locally manufactured 3D components

“Training facilities like SENAI – the National Service for Industrial Training – exist and are offering training solutions, but long-distance and online learning also need to be solutions for requalifying the workforce. It is an advantage that we have always had a big industrial workforce but how to implement these changes is the dilemma. The machine is not the secret, it is what you do with the data. Connectivity is the key, and we have a culture of integration in Brazil. We need less workers working with products and more working with programming. But this takes time, and is a problem all over the world.”

Standardisation and quality control for Industry 4.0
Amongst the many roadshows and presentations at the exhibition was one by the Brazilian arm of the VDI: The Association of German Engineers. They presented the German Standardisation Roadmap to Industry 4.0, fundamentally a system of standard best practices for industry 4.0, by using various case studies conducted on businesses in different stages of implementing new technologies.

Exhibitors included international manufacturers

Johannes Klingberg, Executive Director of VDI Brazil said: “There are more than 12 000 VDI members in Germany, including those from industry, academia and government, actively working on the construction of these guidelines. Among them is the VDI / VDE 4000 directive, which specifically deals with the implementation process of Industry 4.0. The goal is to produce a document that establishes a common concept for all users of digital technology.” This is to be applied around the world.

About the new standardisation document to be published later this year
“With the digitisation of industrial production, it is essential for extremely divergent systems from various manufacturers to interact reliably and efficiently. The Standardisation Roadmap for Industry 4.0 is one of the pivotal communication media for Industry 4.0. It enables the national and international exchange of information between standardisation, industry, associations, research and politics. It is a guide showing the way for individuals and organisations active in various sectors of technology and presents the outcomes from current work and discussions, as well as an overview of standards and specifications relevant to Industry 4.0. It sketches out the requirements placed on standardisation and lays down effective measures for their successful implementation.”

“A key element of the Standardisation Roadmap is the role that humans play in “smart factories”. The document also addresses the harmonisation of smart manufacturing components, reference and data models in Industry 4.0, as well as communication technologies, service robotics and legal issues. Experts from the areas of business, research, science and politics have contributed to the development of the Roadmap.”

“It’s a “living” document that is continually being developed and anyone interested in Industry 4.0 is welcome to participate in this work.”

Damon Crawford, online editor and journalist for Metalworking News with Júlia Meriqui of ABIMAQ

Metalworking News would like to extend a special thanks to Júlia Meriqui for her hospitality during our visit to the show, as well as to the entire team at ABIMAQ. EXPOMAFE next takes place from 4 – 8 May 2021. If Brazil is not on your radar, it should be. For more information visit: https://www.expomafe.com.br/en/