Saur Equipamentos S.A. has grown through diversification, evolving into a manufacturer of metal components for the construction industry, which has led to the production of tools, and heavy equipment. “One of the most important developments for us was in 1974 when the company began working with hydraulic trailers and platforms,” says Sales Manager Enio André Heinen. “The systems were no comparison to those used today. Trailers were side-tilting and required much less power. Nonetheless it was a turning point for Saur.”
The importance of the use of hydraulics in heavy duty farming machinery was recognized immediately and the company began to consider applying the technology to other fields. In 1979, in the search for new markets, Saur began manufacturing a fork lifting system using hydraulics, which precipitated the development of hydraulic clamps and rotators as well as rotary cranes and pushers.
Load lifting systems proved to be a success for the company and in 1998 Saur developed machinery for lifting buses and trucks. The hydraulic systems available by this time already were strong enough to power heavy, rear-tilting trailers and this technology was applied to equipment used to lift heavy vehicles for repair and maintenance purposes.
In 2000, Saur entered new territory as part of a joint venture with Austrian company, Penz. The project involved the manufacture of tools and machinery used in deforestation, such as cranes for lifting and loaders and trailers for transferring trees.
With the application of knowledge and systems, Saur established the four main areas of business in which it operates today: agricultural, collection and uploading of bulk materials; industrial, with accessories for forklifts and other equipment for material handling; forestry equipment and automotive, with hydraulic lifts or vehicles. “Each sector was a natural progression for us,” explains Heinen. “We were, and still are, constantly looking for new opportunities.”
Both forklifts and machinery used for the collection, loading and unloading of grains and cereals supplied to the agricultural industry are each responsible for 40 percent of Saur’s annual revenue. An additional 15 percent comes from forestation projects, an area that Heinen predicts will grow considerably. “The paper and cellulose market is undoubtedly growing year after year at an astonishing rate.” The remaining 5 percent of turnover is generated through bus and truck lifting systems.
Aside from these four areas, Saur’s machinery has a range of uses. “It is difficult to say who purchases forklifting equipment, such as dock levelers and clamps,” says Heinen. “Any company, whether it is a warehouse, depot or packaging plant, needs to lift and move goods. The applications are truly varied.” Trailers and platforms traditionally sold to the farming sector are also used by construction and mining companies. “Mineral extraction in Brazil is growing, and the industry is demanding more equipment and more powerful machinery, of which there is a shortage,” explains Heinen.
Three groups of engineers work on Saur’s products; while one group is dedicated to fork-lifting systems, and another to machinery for forestation, a third develops and tests the agricultural and vehicle lifting lines. “These three departments also work together,” explains Heinen, “and this is essential to our business structure. The cross-application of knowledge and techniques in each area is what makes our equipment unique.” No other company in Brazil manufactures the same range of hydraulic equipment as Saur, which gives the company a unique advantage in the market.
Saur also stretches beyond its own parameters, with each of its four units participating in international expo and trade fairs. Earlier this year, four employees were sent to Germany for the CEMAT fair; the company attended PROMAT in the U.S. as well. “Our partner Penz exhibited forestation equipment at a trade fair in Schmallenberg, and of course, we were present,” says Heinen. At national fairs Saur also exhibits machinery. The importance of such events is clear for Saur, which seeks expansion through partnerships. “We not only want to learn, but also meet and form working relationships with other companies in the industry,” says Heinen. In the future, Saur has further partnerships planned with companies Ahwi, ATM Recycling Systems and Kunz, for whom it has developed machinery for the removal and cleaning of hydroelectric dams.
Saur’s manufacturing plant is in Panambi in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. The 14,000-square-meter facility, which employs over 400 people, is undergoing a 2,000-square-meter expansion to accommodate an increase in demand. The company also has sales offices in Sao Paulo and Cuiabá, which also perform light repairs on store equipment if necessary. In addition to the three facilities, 12 teams of technicians constantly travel around the country, assembling, revising and giving assistance to equipment users.
The company purchases hydraulic systems and motors, raw metals and materials and also an imported software system that helps to streamline processes. Every part is issued with a production code, which accompanies it until the final stages of manufacture. This guarantees not only quality but also provides a tracking system for standardizing, assessment and analysis of procedures.
ACCOMPANYING ECONOMIC GROWTH
Over the last five years production has steadily increased; in 2007, for example, Saur recorded a 20 percent growth rate.
The reasons for the recent surge are based on quality, expertise and the competitive environment, says Heinen. “We operate in the goods’ markets, moving, transferring and lifting goods,” he explains. “The need to increase operations efficiencies forces companies to make better use of their material movement equipment. Logistics always grow faster than the economy and we are following the trend.”
Another cause of growth in recent years has been the increasing tendency to industrialize processes. Companies wanting to increase their productivity are investing in machinery. “Machinery allows companies to reduce overheads, such as staff, and increase income,” says Heinen. “The cost of labor in Brazil is relatively high, and industrializing systems is an attractive alternative.”
An example of how Saur seeks to facilitate a company’s process involves a recent project for John Deere Montenegro, a company that was wasting valuable time loading tires on and off a tractor trailer. Saur developed machinery that does the same task in much less time. “Often we improve a system that already exists,” says Heinen. “Whether it be manual or mechanical, Saur finds movement solutions.”
The future is bright for a company with a long past in the market. Saur continues to grow, bringing product knowledge and application to every customer. With existing business booming and more projects and partnerships planned, Saur promises to continue to bear the load for industry.