Brazilian trailblazer

When Brazilian entrepreneurs Carlos Eduardo Elache, Celso do Amaral Filho, and Renato Ramos Ferreira founded COMP here 13 years ago they hardly could have imagined importing a laser system from Switzerland-or anywhere else for that matter.

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Pinhais, Brazil - When Brazilian entrepreneurs Carlos Eduardo Elache, Celso do Amaral Filho, and Renato Ramos Ferreira founded COMP here 13 years ago they hardly could have imagined importing a laser system from Switzerland-or anywhere else for that matter. They made wooden doors and panels, and a substantial amount of their revenue came from just one client-the Atlas elevator division of Brazil’s Villares group. But a few years later, wooden material began to be phased out of elevators due to beefed-up fire regulations in many Brazilian cities. COMP found its market drop like an elevator with a severed cable. “We had to change our entire business,” says Ferreira.

Then Ferreira, the company’s finance director, attended a European trade fair, which led to the company buying its first laser cutting system. It’s been coming back for more ever since, growing into a leading Brazilian job shop in the laser cutting and precision bending, welding, and punching segments.

Recently the company installed the newest of its systems, a Bystronic Bylaser 5200 ARC. The only difference in the way this equipment will be installed and operated in Brazil is the “tropicalization” of its refrigeration system-an adjustment performed in Switzerland before shipping. In the words of Leonardo Olsen, general director of Bystronic do Brasil (Bystronic’s Curitiba-based subsidiary), the refrigeration system was “turbo charged.” “This [equipment] is going to give us a nice boost because of the cutting speed and the power of the laser,” predicts Filho. “And the advanced technology that was demonstrated to us should improve productivity. That’s very important.”

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Many clients, notably those in the automotive, agribusiness, and telecommunications sectors, experience seasonal shifts in demand for their products. Those peaks and valleys are passed along to COMP. The Bylaser 5200’s added speed will help the company handle the extra loads during peak periods. “We’re a job shop,” says Filho. “We need to be able to meet precise deadlines.”

COMP executives hope the new system can help them forge plates and devices from thicker plates, of up to 20 mm, in high-end materials like aluminum and stainless steel. They also hope to lure clients who now use non-laser systems. “Before we’d tell them we could do it for, say, 50 reals, and they’d say ‘forget it,’” says Elache. “Now we can tell them we’ll do it for 30 reals. I’ll be fighting for a niche that wasn’t mine before.”

In addition to the new system, COMP sports seven laser machines on its shop floor. Those machines run 24 hours a day to meet demand. The company’s client list includes blue chip names such as Siemens, Volkswagen/Audi, and Cummins. It prides itself on its engineering expertise and ability to offer customized solutions rather than merely work from pre-existing specifications. Revenue is up by an average of 15 percent a year, according to Ferreira.

The company employs 140, of which 60 percent work on the shop floor. Ten percent of those have received training abroad, including some old-timers who started with the company when it used to cut wood. “We gave these people an opportunity,” says Ferreira. “They didn’t know anything about laser cutting, but neither did we, the owners.”

This article is excerpted from one written by Bill Hinchberger, editor of the website BrazilMax.

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