Leaders in the Brazilian automotive industry have long looked to CRW Plastics as their parts supplier. Now, from Slovakia to the USA and beyond, the rest of the world is heeding this example and turning to this internationally recognized company for their needs in mold and injection techniques. Helen Larkin steps inside the world of CRW to see what’s behind the name.
With three decades of extensive market experience, the Brazilian manufacturing giant CRW Plastics has established a name for itself in Brazil and beyond. Headquartered in the Guarulhos region of Sao Paulo, South America’s industrial and business capital, CRW has consistently expanded over its lifespan and now supplies the biggest names in the automobile and electronic markets with molds and injection techniques. CRW has grown from a small tool manufacturer to an industrial powerhouse, and now has outposts all over Brazil as well as in Slovakia and in the USA.
CRW was founded in 1979 as a small plant in the Guarulhos section of Sao Paulo, Brazil, by three partners skilled in tool manufacturing – Carlos Roberto Campos, Rubens de Cicco, and Wagner G. Truglio. In 1985, the company was threatened by syndicalism, which led to a series of events that ultimately caused CRW to strategically divide itself into several smaller companies to avoid intervention and media attention. From this separation was born the COI, or the Strategic Operation Center, the CRAW, or the holding that administered the CRW group’s businesses (which included CRW 01, CRW 02, Cromos, Modulo, Fertec, Tecline and Microline) and CRW Manaus, where a new plant was incorporated.
The end result at that time was a combined seven production plant, one tool production center, one office building and one holding, with about 1,050 workers.
“In 1989,” recounts CRW CEO Derian Campos, “Fernando Collor de Mello was elected president and embarked on an extreme fiscal plan based on high inflation rates. The ensuing economic crisis proved quite difficult for Brazilian Industry.” Throughout 1990 and 1991, production in the CRW plants slowed by almost 90 percent, causing the company to shut down some of its factories and concentrate all production in the plant known as CRW 1, with only 400 employees retained on staff.
“Following this crisis,” Campos continues, “a few loyal clients continued to use our business, the most notable example is Embraco, who remains one of our largest customers to this day.” And then CRW was able to continue on its expansion. In 1993, CRW came out with the Tec-Line, and was able to increase sales and regain its place in the market. In 1997, the company was back on track thanks to increased sales to Embraco, the world’s leader in hermetic compressors, with a productive capacity of 27 million compressors per year. CRW was hatching plans of great expansion. Two years later it had greatly increased importation and productivity in manufacturing auto parts.
What followed was an extended period of carefully planned, domestic as well as international expansion. In September of 2000, CRW opened a new facility in Joinville, in the southern state of Santa Catarina. This facility was built to cater to needs particular to the southern market as well as for product exportation from the nearby ports of San Francisco and Itajai. These facilities today are equipped with finish and assembly cells, as well as a measuring lab. The plant is 1,500 meters square and is devoted exclusively to providing Embraco with tool manufacturing services as well as parts. The initial investment for this plant was $2 million; it has recently become equipped with electric machines, as is the plan for the rest of CRW’s facilities.
In 2003, CRW opened a plant in Varginha, in the state of Minas Gerais, where activities revolve mainly around Walita production. Just two years later, in 2005, CRW embarked on a new and exciting venture, in expanding internationally to open a plant in Spiska Nova Ves, Slovakia. Located in the heart of Europe with close proximity to the rest of the continent, this facility includes finish and assembly facilities, a painting booth, and a measuring laboratory.
The entire plant focuses primarily on production for Embraco, and is completely equipped with electric machines.
“It was around this time, in 2004, that our Joinville plant gained attention in the media, and CRW became widely recognized as Embraco’s primary supplier. Following this attention, we were able to establish a partnership with Federal University,” says Campos.
And the expansion continued. The latest addition to the CRW empire is the opening of a logistics and acquisitions center in Charleston, USA, in 2007.
In January of this year, CRW acquired 20 new Toshiba injector machines. These machines will reduce the consumption of energy by 40 percent. The goal now is to substitute all hydraulic machines with electric machines by the year’s end. Expansion will be necessary to meet the ever-growing demand.
Since its inception, CRW has grown to a team of 1,400 employees, working with 120 injections machines, 50 tooling machines, with 70,000 hours of injection on a monthly basis, transforming 500 tons of raw material per month. It has obtained ISO: 9001/2000 and ISO: TS 16949 E UL quality certifications with annual revenue of $160 million.
RANGE OF CAPABILITIES
CRW’s range of production today includes molds, injection, assembly, and finishes.
The company has built long-standing relationships with the world’s leading automotive, electronic and metal companies, and stands as a leading supplier. The long list of clients includes Audi, Embraco, Philips, Walita, GM, VW, Porsche, Visteon, Valeo, BEHR, William Levene, Jabil, Faurocia, Nansen, Johnson Controls, Whirlpool, Fiat, Arno, Magneti Marelli, Autoliv, Kautex, VSE, Meritor, Schunk, APC, Panasonic, and Eecon.
Among CRW’s long list of partners is Toshiba, General Electric, Dupont, Dow, Rhodia, Grupo Metal, Krauss Maffei, Ticona, Star Seiki, A@C, Simpesc, Simplast.
With an eye to always maintaining the newest and most cuttingedge technology available, CRW invests in only the highest tech equipment and replaces all of its machinery every five years. It has established a solid partnership with BVWI to certify its processes, in order to meet the varied demand from clients and market trends. Using the best technology available on the market, including an extensive array of tools including Six Sigma, Kaizen and SMED, CRW offers complete solutions in the production of injected plastic pieces. CRW has long been making molds, and is an experienced fabricator of molds used for thermoplastic injection.
In the area of injection, CRW is fully equipped to respond to any order involving even the most demanding engineered parts. This includes material feeders and dryers, high tech injecting machines, individual molds registration, low rotation for mills, robots, hot water changed closed system, as well as corrective and preventative maintenance upkeep.
When it comes to assembly, CRW employs ultra sounds, automatic assemblies, solder, as well as hot plate solders.
CRW takes care to tend to every step of the process, down to the finest detail. When it comes to finishes, CRW offers liquid painting, soft touch painting, body color painting, tampography, hot stamping, as well as a laser technique.
CRW maintains test and metrology labs outfitted with high-tech equipment, always concerned first and foremost with the quality of the finished product and focusing on the physical, chemical and dimensional tests to guarantee the quality as well as the development of new products.
The CRW development and technology headquarters is still stationed at the company’s first factory in Guarulhos, Sao Paulo. This city is home to the biggest consumption market in South America. Inside the massive facility, all CRW molds are manufactured and processes are developed. This activity includes product design, prototyping, mold design, assembly and measuring device design, mold assembly, cell and assembly finishing, painting, PPAP, and measuring labs.
The Guarulhos headquarters is split into two separate facilities: CRW Plastics 1, and CRW Plastics 2. The first unit employs a high volume of special processes, including vertical injection machines, special injection cells, and complex assemblies. The second unit specializes in large parts and structures that demand process assembly and a large logistics capacity.
In its test lab, the CRW facilities are equipped with a high vacuum pump, a vacuum pump, a freezer with temperatures ranging from -15 degrees Celsius to 20 degrees Celsius, an ultra-sound machine, a hothouse with circulating air, heating blankets and foil, an analytical device, and a device for impact.
In its metrology lab, CRW boasts a three dimensional optical machine, a height tracer, a paquimeter, and an external micrometer,
THE CRW TEAM
CRW is known throughout Brazil as a company that is committed first and foremost to the health and well-being of its employees. The company is constantly holding training programs focused on team work, leadership development, internal recognition, career advancement and opportunities, educational motivation, and English lessons. In an effort to advance its team’s health, CRW has established a partnership with SESI of preventative action through the “ginastica laboral” in which employees take obligatory exercise breaks, with the goal of not only occupational safety, but also of a high quality of life.
CRW is also committed to social and environmental responsibility. The goal, as the company makes clear, is to create the least possible impact now, and promote sustainability into the future. In this way, CRW always strives to develop products that will cause the smallest possible environmental impact, whether in terms of being lightest in weight, utilizing a smaller ratio of toxic substances, or reduced energy consumption. It also educates on the need for recycling and responsible discard of waste. “Our investment in electric machines sets us apart,” says Campos. “We are moving away from the hydraulic model, and have plans in place to continue
on this ground-breaking path.”
THE CRW DIFFERENTIAL
“CRW is a different kind of company,” says Campos. “We are unique in our capacity to design and produce the very molds that we ourselves we will use during production. This frees the customer from having to worry about the life of his tool rack, with maintenance, modifications, or improvements.”
The founders of the CRW were tool makers, which set the company off with a technical knowledge not found in many companies today. This in-depth knowledge of molds and machinery has propelled the company to the front of the market. It nonetheless has strong market forces to contend with. The trend among its competitors has been to move or outsource production to China, to find cheaper labor, and to become incorporated into larger companies. CRW has resisted these trends and become stronger for doing so. The company continues to invest in new technology for tooling machinery, for part production, in order to gain agility, reduce costs and to offer its customers more complete and cost-effective solutions.
THE BEST OF THE BEST
CRW’s mission is to be the best in the world in its field. The company aims to do this by “exceeding the expectations of both our internal and external customers, to respect the environment and to grow in a tenable manner,” says Campos.
CRW’s core values permeate all of this ever-expanding company’s work, and are based on the ‘4 M’s’, which represent:
• an eternal search for excellence in the quality of molds, its workforce, machinery, and commodities, and commitment;
• to always being the best, and always work with passion and loyalty, excellence;
• to always seek perfection by using creativity, innovation, and integrity;
• to always be fair, worthy and honest, always respecting differences that may arise.
These values have seen CRW through a tumultuous 30 years in Brazilian history, through the volatile ebb and flow of the market, through economic recessions and through unstable politics. At the end of it all, CRW has risen to be a constant.