South America's biggest PVC molder, Tubos e Conexoes Tigre Ltda. of Brazil, is investing $80 million to expand and modernize. The investment, which includes construction of plants, involves renewal and expansion of extrusion, injection molding and ancillary equipment for Tigre's four existing Brazilian pipe and fitting plants.
Confirmed equipment orders include $10 million for 50 tie-barless Engel injection machines with clamping forces of 100-350 tons; slightly less than $10 million for 36 Sandretto presses with clamping forces of 200-500 tons; and an undisclosed sum for 30 new extrusion lines, including 14 from Battenfeld Extrusionstechnik of Germany, according to Tigre President Amaury Olsen.
The Sandretto machines are being supplied by the firm's local licensee, IrmÃos Semeraro Ltda. of SÃo Paulo, while the Engel order was won by its SÃo Paulo agent HDB Polimentos Tecnicos e Representacoes Ltda. The Battenfeld contract is being handled by Ferrostaal do Brasil SA, also in the Brazilian business capital.
Other equipment suppliers winning orders include Germany's AZO and Zeppelin, and Italian firms IPM and Piovan, Tigre said.
The group, which also has a plant in Paraguay, molds 60 percent of all PVC pipe and connectors in Brazil, and has installed capacity of 220,400 pounds for pipe and about 44,000 pounds for fittings.
Anticipating a pickup in Brazil's still recession-hit construction industry next year and new government investment in infrastructure on the back of an economic recovery, Tigre plans to raise its capacity by 30 percent.
``The construction industry is still in a bad state after the recession, but the government privatization program and the economic recovery give us confidence for future growth,'' said Olsen.
Tigre of Joinville, Brazil, operates 250 presses, Olsen said. It needs to raise total productivity and restructure to maintain its market leadership. New extrusion lines consist of twin-screw machines of 90-107 millimeters. Head, vacuum and cooling baths, gauges, haul-offs, cutters and finishing chutes make up the complete lines, he said.
Engel said it has won ``the lion's share'' of the injection machine contracts and is supplying four ES 500/100 HL, 30 ES 650/150 HL and 10 ES 1050/200 HL presses-all equipped with magnet mounting platens for high-speed, low-cost mold changing.
Tigre also has bought 100 injection molds from the United States, Finland, Austria and Taiwan, all with what it describes as ``state-of-the-art concepts'' to raise production of fittings. Company officials were not available to confirm details or elaborate on the program.
Tigre's four plants are located at strategic sites throughout the developed southeast of Brazil to reflect a continuing growth in the country's industrial centers, particularly in Paran and Minas Gerais states. The plants are at Joinville, Rio Claro, Contagem, and Camacari, Brazil.
Fifty percent of all PVC resin consumption in Brazil goes to the pipe, profile and window frame market, according to Ronald Caputo. Caputo is president of the Santa Catarina state plastics association, Sindicato da Ind£stria de Material Pl stico no Estado de Santa Catarina, and vice president of the national plastics industry association, Abiplast.
Total PVC consumption in Brazil peaked at about 419 million pounds in 1993, according to Abiplast statistics.
Brazil has as many as 70 plants making PVC pipe and tubing, while 15 plants produce fittings. But Tigre is clearly the most important player, said Caputo, who is a former executive of the group. The firm's investment represents a 30 percent increase in the pipe and fittings market.
He said it is possible that Tigre will increase exports of its products, chiefly to Brazil's partners in the Southern Cone's free trade zone, Mercosul.
Tigre, which employs 3,900 and produces 2,800 different products, had an annual sales of $500 million in 1994, he said.