Much of Brazil's prosperity today is due to the increasing industrial activity of auto companies that demand the availability of products and components for their manufacturing operations. Among those service providers is Grupo Ferrosider, a conglomerate of companies that uses steel and steel-aluminum alloys to make parts used to assemble cars and trucks. Luis Miranda reports.
In 1991 Ferrosider Indústria e Comércio Ltda was born, and with it began the quest to establish a new name in the production of steel components in Brazil. Founder Cláudio Gama had a dream to build a group of companies, a strong product line, and a strong investment in technology supported by qualified workers.
The appearance of Ferrosider, the first star in Gama’s constellation, opened the door for the rise of what later would become the Group Ferrosider. After establishing two companies, Ferrosider Participations S.A and CG Administrations and Ltd Consultancy, the group added Gestão Empresarial Ltda, responsible for administrative, accounting, quality management, human resources, medicine and security at the work place, among other tasks. The company also formed an advisory board involved in developing IT plans and data management systems. Such strong structure was followed by the acquisition of advanced equipment and the training of professionals in the commercial and technical areas to assure an efficient production model that satisfied the clients and their needs.
Group Ferrosider serves clients in Brazil and beyond its borders producing steel components for the automotive industry, civil construction and many others. Grupo Ferrosider is strategically located in the industrial center of Contagem, in the state of Minas Gerais. Among Ferrosider’s products are steel and steel-aluminum parts in the form of flat plates, blanks and slitters of plates, pipes and blanks of pipes that are fabricated according to the client’s needs. The products vary in thickness, length and resistance depending upon the application they will be subjected to. The company also produces lateral protection bars for practically all of the cars produced in Brazil and in many more vehicles manufactured internationally. Helping its position in the industry is its receipt of QS-9000 certification.
“We have done as much as we can to demonstrate our commitment with our customers and this certificate assures the clients that the company is looking after their needs,” says Ray Pereira, the company’s sales manager. “It also shows our commitment to the security and welfare of our collaborators, due to the fact that this standard requires us to correct any deficiency related to working conditions in our factory.” Ferrosider also has earned ISO: 9001:2000 and is working on the implementation of ISO TS16949 and ISO: 14001.
Another huge part of the Group’s industrial and commercial activities comes from Ferrosider Componentes S.A, which was founded in 2003. This unit was a branch of Ferrosider Indústria e Comércio, but after a few years it turned into a separate entity. The company is strategically located in the city of Betim, also in the state of Minas Gerais, and produces stamped steel components, and performs services such as cutting of steel pipes and bars, computerized molding of pipes and complete welded assemblies. Ferrosider Componentes services the biggest auto makers in Brazil, with continuous investment in the latest technology as well as the training of its workforce. The company’s industrial park is equipped with pressing machines with the capacity to process 100 to 200 tons, molding equipment CNC for pipe shaping, welding machines MIG and TIG and cutting and expanding machines also used for pipe treatments.
THE MODEL OF SUCCESS
Ferrosider’s flexibility to accommodate clients’ specifications permitted the company to become one of the most important suppliers of exhaust pipes, covering between 75 and 80 percent of the local market. In the manufacturing of lateral protection tubes for cars, Ferrosider delivers 50 percent of the market’s demand. The company also provides 35 percent of the demand for steel components for car seats. Today, Ferrosider is one of the top 10 providers for Fiat and it is among the top 20 in Brazil. Besides Fiat, Ferrosider also works with companies such as Keifer, Resil, Emcon Technologies, Magneto Marelli and Tower Automotive, among others. From these activities, according to Pereira, the company has averaged 20 percent growth annually since 2005. “We use projections that follow the automotive industry in Brazil to determine how our operation will grow in the coming years, and right now we can see a 50 percent growth rate for the next three years, indicates Pereira.
Such an anticipated increase prompted the company to initiate projects to produce new steel components, directed to potential customers involved in the manufacture of power turbines, wind mills and civil engineering. “We will be producing steel plates used to build trucks, the outer shells of hydraulic turbines and vertical axle windmills,” says Pereira.
Through all of this worker safety is tantamount. The companies of Group Ferrosider maintain strong policies of health and security in their installations, with official safety guidelines to help professionals perform to the best of their capacity while preventing accidents. To facilitate this, the companies make investments in lighting, ventilation, maintenance of floors and signs, environmental evaluations of risks, individual protection equipment, installation and maintenance of extinguishers, sanitary installations, video cameras and industrial monitoring.
The emphasis given to safety in the work place rounds out Pereira’s belief that Ferrosider’s well defined structural organization along with its ingenuity and customer service will maintain the operation on top of many competitors for years to come. Furthermore, the strong industrial growth Brazil is having guarantees a solid future for a company that will continue diversifying its production and services as a way to increase its competitive edge.