From the time it was founded 35 years ago, DMB Máquinas e Implementos Agrícolas Ltda has been recognized as a pioneer in the production of equipment for the cultivation of sugar cane. At the forefront of one of Brazil’s leading industries, the company now manufactures a broad range of machinery, adapting to market changes to provide modern, effective solutions to its clients. Reuben Ford takes a closer look at DMB’s continued evolution and success.
DMB Máquinas e Implementos Agrícolas Ltda began business in 1964 in Sertãozinho, São Paulo state. The company initiated its activities in a 550-square-meter plant, where it produced only small furrow makers for planting sugar cane. As one of the first manufacturers of this type of equipment, and with a firm focus on satisfying the client, DMB quickly increased its market share, expanded its product range and moved to larger premises.
“We have always been 100 percent dedicated to the needs of our customers: 100 percent of our time is spent studying, supplying and improving the sugar cane market,” says Marketing Director Auro Pardinho. It is undoubtedly this determination that has earned DMB the title of the most traditional and one of the most reliable producers of sugar cane equipment in Brazil.
Nowadays, the company manufactures a number of different machines for the sector, including subsoilers, furrow makers, plant covers, cultivators for both green and burnt cane, distribution trailers, surface fertilizer distributors and overflow systems for shredded cane. In response to the changes in the market, DMB has also developed and launched sugar cane planters and a whole stalk cane planter. The company does not manufacture harvesting equipment, concentrating efforts on specializing in planting and cultivation machinery only.
The planter is the latest product, and the most recent to be a success in Brazil. The idea of a planter for sugar cane is not new, but cheap labor in the past made planters unnecessary. However, the increased mechanization of the industry in recent years has resulted in a rise in sales of labor-saving equipment, such as the planter. “Although planters are our fastest growing product, the cultivating equipment is our best seller,” confirms Pardinho.
TRIED AND TESTED PRODUCTS
A clear understanding of the market allows DMB to develop tools to facilitate and increase the efficiency of existing cultivation methods. Pardinho outlines the process for the introduction of equipment: “First of all, the idea is presented to our mechanical engineers, and together we reach a conclusion as to the viability and market acceptance of the product. If the plans are successful, a prototype will be made, tested, adjusted and finally manufactured.” Despite extensive experience, new machinery typically takes one or two harvests before it can be perfected and mass produced. Technology developed by DMB is patented.
“Our job does not end with delivery. Our technicians train the agriculturists on how to use the equipment, and also participate in trade fairs and seminars to explain its functions,” says Pardinho.
As well as creating products in-house, DMB is also contracted by the CTC (Brazilian Sugar Cane Technology Center), to build and test machinery. The company’s engineers work on the center’s projects, contributing to their development, and follow the industrialization process through to production. For such projects, DMB receives royalties on sales.
The technology used for the manufacture of DMB’s products is standard to the industry, with the exception of the adjustments that the company has made to its production line, to increase efficiency. Examples of innovative procedures include the painting equipment, which was developed by DMB, and machinery used for the recycling of water and effluents in the factory.
The company’s 10,000–square meter production facility is located in an area of 50,000 square meters in São Paulo state, approximately 20 kilometers from the town of Ribeirão Proto. The area is currently considered the greatest center of sugar and alcohol production from sugar cane in the world. Around 550 companies are based in the region, the majority operating in the industrial processing sector, and only few manufacturing equipment for the agricultural market.
INVESTING IN NEW TECHNOLOGY
Recent investments have resulted in the increase in the size of DMB’s facility, with the intention of raising productivity and purchasing more manufacturing technology. Although the industry, as expected considering the current international economic climate, is experiencing certain difficulties, the investments are a way of maintaining the company’s past success. New products are one of the solutions. The sugar cane harvest previously involved burning the crops to clear the fields, and then removing the remainder by hand. Today, this practice is prohibited for environmental reasons, and as a result, DMB is creating equipment to provide an alternative solution for the situation.
The new products, which also constitute considerable investment for the company, will need to collect raw cane from the fields. “Cultivation of sugar cane must be planned from the first stage: planting. Producers do not plant every year, as each crop will last for five to six harvests, and needs from a year to 8 months to grow. Our intention with new and existing tools is to facilitate processes for the agriculturists, and increase the productivity of their harvests,” explains Pardinho.
The new products are subject to the company’s rigorous development process. Among the 300 staff at DMB are two groups of engineers, mechanical and agricultural, who each assume the responsibility for certain stages. “One of the reasons for the involvement of several different professionals is because we want to make certain that we are offering the best possible value for money to our clients,” says Pardinho. One of the specifications resulting from such research is that DMB’s machinery is compatible with all brands of tractor and farm vehicle, an important factor in an ever increasingly competitive market.
As the first Brazilian company to launch sugar cane cultivation equipment on the domestic market, DMB has a secure pioneer status. Arguably the leader in its field, it is also aware of its competition. “Aside from our teams of engineers, we have fully trained technicians, who provide excellent service both before and after sales. Our objective is to establish a relationship with our clients and count on repeated business,” says Pardinho.
The success of DMB’s strategy is proven by the expansion of its client base to other countries. The company currently exports to Argentina, Bolivia, Venezuela, Mexico, Guatemala, Angola, China and the Caribbean. International sales account for 15 percent of business and are rising fast. The complete DMB range is available to overseas clients.
The erratic nature of the sugar cane industry in Brazil has dealt its fair share of difficulties to DMB. In the late 1990s, the industry as a whole suffered from cutbacks due to the agricultural crisis. At the start of this decade, things improved dramatically, and the company accompanied the unprecedented growth of sugar cane in Brazil. It was only at the end of 2008 that the growth rate slowed down. Pardinho explains: “There is an important difference for us between the latest difficulties and those we experienced in 1997. The crisis then was directly related to our product; sugar was very cheap and alcohol was thrown away. Today, we have a credit crisis, which is less serious for DMB. Many of our clients do not depend on credit, and so we can sustain growth.”
Additionally, alcohol is an increasingly popular alternative fuel in Brazil, and demand for sugar is greater than supply. These facts are more than reassuring for DMB, which has a long history in both areas. Experience has accustomed the company to worse economic climates, and Pardinho is confident that in addition to continued growth in 2009, DMB will emerge stronger than ever from the present problems.
With innovative solutions for the plantation and cultivation of sugar cane in the making, DMB shows no signs of conceding its prominent market position. A partner in helping producers to increase their profits and improve their operations, the company’s longstanding philosophy has been a vital part of its continued success. This, together with knowledge of the market and awareness of its development, guarantee that DMB will continue to plant the seeds for a sweet, successful future.