Machine tool industries worldwide reflect the economic conditions of the national economies they serve. When times are good, machine tool sales expand, and when they are not, demand typically drops sharply.
That was the case in Brazil. Its economy—which grew extremely rapidly from 2001 to 2014—has struggled for the past two to three years, due in large part to a loss in business confidence after a major government corruption scandal and the impeachment and removal from office of President Dilma Rousseff. However, there are indications that a recovery may be at hand.
That made for good timing at EXPOMAFE, the Brazil International Machine Tool and Industrial Automation Exhibition, which was held May 9–13 at the São Paulo Expo Exhibition & Convention Center, the largest and newest show pavilion in Brazil. The trade show included 400 exhibitors representing 630 companies and was an initiative from ABIMAQ—the Brazilian Machinery Builders Association, with show organization and promotion from Informa Exhibitions.
The inaugural EXPOMAFE focused on the latest technology advances and global trends in machine tools, industrial automation, robotics, metal stamping, additive manufacturing, integrated and multitask systems, measurement and quality control, hydraulic equipment and pneumatics, prototyping and 3D printing, among others. About 40,000 attended the sold-out show.
Machine Tool Sector Serves Diverse Markets
The industrial sector served by the Brazilian machine tool industry is diversified and includes automotive, agriculture equipment, aerospace and biomedical. While the Brazilian economy has been challenging, there have been some positives. For example, with domestic demand soft, the Brazilian machine tool sector exported more than 50% of its production in 2016 to Latin America, the US, Europe and other markets. That’s compared to typical export levels of 20% to 25%.
Also, companies are expecting a recovery. “I’ve been visiting many industrial companies over the past six to ten months, and it’s impressive how talented, passionate, and optimistic they are,” said Fabio Taiar, CFO and investor relations officer for machine tool builder Indústrias Romi SA (São Paulo, Brazil), and president of the machine tool chamber of ABIMAQ. “Brazil has been investing at a lower rate than in 2013, but it is more stable. The political situation is still not good, but it is somewhat better than the recent past. The Brazilian entrepreneurial confidence index was below 40 points last year, and it is above 50 now—meaning that more companies than not are anticipating growth. We expect to have a better 2017 and hopefully a very good 2018.”
According to Taiar, a gradual recovery would easier to manage than the hyper-growth experienced in Brazil between 2002 and 2014. “For example, when the machine tool industry was growing 30% in 2010, it was difficult to manage the supply chain,” he said. “A machine tool has 2000-plus components, and it’s hard to manage that during 30% growth without using too much capital.”
Business interests remain hopeful that reforms from the government, including a proposal to deregulate the labor market, will be success. (A new corruption scandal involving current President Michel Temer that occurred after EXPOMAFE is said to have diminished the chances of a broad economic reform package, according to published reports.) “Inflation is low, and while interest rates are high they are going down,” said Henry Goffaux, vice president-Europe for ABIMAQ. “EXPOMAFE came at the right time—it was fully booked, and many exhibitors told us they want to book space for the next one.”
EXPOMAFE developed an educational program covering topics such as the local content policy for the Brazilian oil and gas industry; Smart Solutions for Industry (presented by VDI-Brasil); cutting and welding; and the communication protocol for Industry 4.0.
In addition, EXPOMAFE presented an Advanced Manufacturing Demonstration producing 600 units of personalized cell phone holders in order to demonstrate the technologies behind Industry 4.0. Those technologies include independent production modules, machine-to-machine communications, a self-managing production system, and digital twins.
The project was developed by ABIMAQ and SENAI-SP (Brazil’s technical education system), along with 12 director and sponsor companies, six startup companies, the MAUÁ Technology Institute, FEI University Center, eight companies that provided technologies to operate the line, and support from Informa Exhibitions.
Business Round Table
On May 10 and 11, EXPOMAFE held the first International Business Round Table among show exhibitors and importers invited by Brazil Machinery Solutions (BMS). The business promotion activity, called Project Buyer, is organized by BMS, based on the partnership between the Brazilian Agency for Promotion of Export and Investment (Apex-Brazil) and ABIMAQ.
Participating in the event were eight buyers from six countries: Chile, the US, Egypt, Nigeria, Peru and Kenya, said Patricia Gomes, external market division and BMS program manager for ABIMAQ. In 2016, Brazil registered $337.1 million of exports of machine tool products, 23.2% more than the previous year, when external sales were $273.6 million.
—Editor-in-Chief Alan Rooks
US manufacturing surged in June as gains in new orders spurred increases in output and employment, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM; Tempe, AZ) said.
The institute’s PMI, which measures economic activity in manufacturing, advanced to 57.8% in June, up from 54.9% in May, according to a monthly report. It was the 10th consecutive month of growth.
“It was a really strong performance,” Timothy R. Fiore, chair of ISM’s Business Survey Committee, said on a conference call.
“As long as new orders continue to come in…there’s no reason this shouldn’t continue,” Fiore said.
Fifteen of 18 industries reported economic expansion. They included furniture, machinery, transportation equipment, fabricated metal products, miscellaneous manufacturing and petroleum and coal products. Three industries reported contraction: apparel, textiles and primary metals.
The ISM report is based on a survey of 350 purchasing and supply executives. A reading above 50% indicates expansion and below 50% contraction. The PMI averaged 56.4% for the first half of 2017. The index hasn’t been below 50% since August 2016.
New orders have driven of the economic expansion in manufacturing, Fiore said.
“If new orders continue to come in, the manufacturing base has to respond,” he said.
ISM’s New Orders Index advanced to 63.5% in June, up from 59.5% in May. Fifteen industries reported increases in orders, including machinery, transportation equipment, fabricated metal products, miscellaneous manufacturing and petroleum and coal products.
As a result, ISM’s Production and Employment indexes also advanced.
The Production Index rose to 62.4% from 57.1% in May. Fourteen industries reported production increases while two, apparel and textiles, reported cutbacks in output.
The group’s Employment Index advanced to 57.2% in June from 53.5% the month before. Fourteen industries reported job increases. Two, apparel and petroleum and coal products, reported job reductions.
Some companies are adding shifts “which is very positive,” Fiore said.
—Senior Editor Bill Koenig
UL Releases Study Results
Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (Northbrook, IL), a not-for-profit organization that is part of the UL family of companies, released research results from a two-year study of emissions of desktop 3D printers.
Results indicated that printers can be a source of ultrafine particles and volatile organic chemicals to the indoor air while operating. An environmental chamber methodology was developed for studying emissions and monitoring of their behavior or time, and comparative particle toxicity studies were presented. Supporting research was presented by other key public health and academic organizations.
The study was conducted by the Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, and UL’s Chemical Research Initiative.
Dialog among the participants focused on measurement methodologies; exposure models; continuing research needs; toxicity measurements of particle emissions; and communication to the public and users of 3D printers for minimizing emission exposure and public health impacts.
“Based on research results and safety concern over these emissions, stakeholders agreed to move forward with UL taking a lead role to develop an ANSI standard for measuring and assessing printer emissions for safe use in indoor spaces,” Marilyn Black, senior technical advisor to UL, said in a statement.
Belden Universal to Move to New Plant
Belden Universal (Broadview, IL), a maker of custom universal joints and specialized mechanical power transmission products, announced its plans to move into its new production facility.
The new plant is being built in Hillside, IL, near Belden’s currrent headquarters in Broadview. Relocation will proceed in stages and the company expects to complete the move by late 2017, according to a statement.
Boom Supersonic, Stratasys Form Technical Partnership
Stratasys Ltd., the 3D printing company, and Boom Supersonic announced a three-year technical partnership.
The agreement was reached to help Boom accelerate production of advanced tooling and production-grade aircraft parts based on Stratasys FDM 3D printing technology.
Boom plans for the first flight of XB-1, its supersonic demonstrator, to take place next year. The company is deploying Stratasys FDM-based Fortus 450mc and F370 3D printers. Both machines are designed to produce on-demand parts.
The agreement will allow Boom to utilize Stratasys 3D printing solutions, materials and expert services. The 3D printing solutions will advance speed, cost savings and performance across critical engineering and manufacturing processes at its headquarters in Denver.
MC Machinery Moves to New Facility
MC Machinery Systems Inc. moved into its new headquarters in Elk Grove Village, IL, from Wood Dale, IL.
“When deciding on a location for our new facility, we wanted to stay close to Chicago’s Interstate 90 due to the numerous partners in the area as well as the proximity to O’Hare International Airport,” Patrick Simon, senior marketing and corporate planning manager, said in a statement..