The Brazilian arm of this Japanese robotic technology giant adapts to suit the demands of a progress-hungry market. Reuben Ford finds out how extending global services and applications is just the strategy for success in Latin America.
Motoman Robótica do Brasil is a subsidiary of Yaskawa America Inc.- one of the United States’ largest robotics companies. From simple to complex robotics systems, the company aims to increase the productivity capabilities of its clients, assuring cost efficiency.
Launched in Brazil as the South American arm of the Japanese global group, Motoman discovered a receptive market, whose needs pushed for complete automated systems. Today, Motoman Robótica do Brasil turns its attention to turnkey robotic systems and not only robots like in Japan.
Growing exponentially, the company produces welding systems for a variety of industries from automotive to agricultural.
“The original intention was to sell robots in Brazil. But each region, including Europe and the United States, has its specific requirements. Latin America wanted systems, not just products from the shelf – in order to sell we needed to sell systems,” explains Icaru Rocco Sakuyoshi, General Director of Motoman Robótica do Brasil.
Yaskawa Motoman is a global leader in the design and development of industrial robots and automation solutions, backed by its successful parent, Yaskawa Electric Corporation of Japan. Founded in 1915 and headquartered in Kitakyushu (Fukuoka), Yaskawa has subsidiaries in North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
In Brazil, Motoman Robótica do Brasil was inaugurated in 1999 to assemble, market and integrate Japanese robot technology to Brazilian industry. “It was clear that the sector was considerably underdeveloped in Brazil and that installation of just a robot, without know-how or applications would be difficult,” Sakuyoshi clarifies.
In 2001, Motoman Brasil decided to produce complete robotic systems. This technology was aimed at soldering, in particular precise arc- and spot-welding, for the automotive industry.
“Outside Brazil, on areas like USA, Canada, Europe and Japan, where markets are more mature, there are plenty of partners who can integrate and sell systems to end customers, while in Brazil there are limited good companies that can offer turnkey systems on the market, which pushed us to develop and consolidate a vertically integrated company capable to supply not only bare arms but also complex solutions.” Sakuyoshi says.
The answer given to the Brazilian market was right: Motoman Brasil expanded, particularly in robotic welding, and recent figures show a 50 percent national market share.
The company moved to larger premises in 2007 and again in 2012. The 5,000-square-meter plant located in Diadema, São Paulo is divided into sales offices, engineering, technical assistance, training centre, administrative, finance and manufacturing floor where robotics systems are built.
Sakuyoshi explains production: “We import the robots manufactured in Japan and locally our Brazilian engineering team develop, build and install the systems using local components.”
Over the last 10 years Yaskawa Motoman has been dedicated to develop robots specific for process, generic app robot´s arms has been replaced by task-specific robots.
The developments gave rise to the Master Arc (MA) series of robots. The Yaskawa Motoman MA1400 is the world leader in arc welding robotics with industry firsts such as patented multiple robot control. “The MA 1400 was projected for soldering,” affirms Sakuyoshi. It is the fastest robot in its class, due to cutting edge motors and ARM control. The hollow, thru-arm cable design extends cable life and the streamlined machine fits into tight factory spaces.
Yaskawa Motoman produces robots dedicated to spot welding process, ES (expert spot) series featured a light body appropriated to fit in tight areas.
The MA 1400 is Motoman Brasil’s top selling product. While arc welding (MIG/TIG) remain the most common application, the company offers automation solutions to the most diverse South-American market segments through modern installations, including: painting, cutting and material handling.
Looking ahead Sakuyoshi predicts new markets using robots: “Beyond automotive industry, traditional users of robotics systems, many others industries will implement robots to increase productivity.”
Motoman do Brasil is growing steadily – selling, projecting, building and installing turnkey robotic systems and is well-prepared to continue in the same vein. The company is currently working in parallel on new areas, such as consumer goods (packaging). “We are developing into the motorcycle and agriculture industries,” Sakuyoshi also confirms.
Motoman Brasil employs 95 direct staff. “Highly trained and motivated specialists in robotics are committed to improving clients processes and productivity. Once finished with the installation, our technical support team is dedicated to providing total satisfaction to our clients assuring that our systems keep producing 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” Sakuyoshi says.
He also attributes the company’s successful average 20 percent growth rate in Brazil to loyal customers. As client and employee numbers rise, Motoman is set to continue providing outstanding quality and service.
Sakuyoshi lists staff, training centers and client training (teaching correct use of Motoman technology) as constant areas of investment. “Research and development is more market-specific as technological developments are made at our main factory in Japan,” he explains. With over 270,000 robots built and installed, Motoman has global experience for finding systems solutions and combines it with creativity.
Buying into Brazil
In Brazil, development focus is traditionally on soldering automation as the best-selling robotic system in the region. “We are market trendsetters in South America, and have been copied by many competitors,” Sakuyoshi says.
As well as a 50 percent market share in the welding sector, Yaskawa Group has 18 percent market share worldwide.
“The corporate environment in Brazil is affected by mood and media. If the economy is growing or industry feels positive, which don’t necessarily occur simultaneously, investment rises and business grows. If the opposite happens, investors get cold feet and run scared,” Sakuyoshi says.
Listening to regional needs in Brazil has caused successful adjustments and won an important market. In fact, although 90 percent of Motoman Brasil’s sales are made domestically, the company also represents Latin America (Chile, Venezuela and Argentina).
Motoman Robótica do Brasil also has its ear to the ground, providing an emerging market with the technological developments it needs, installing them and training local teams.
Believing in Brazil and its progress is what differentiates Motoman.