SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - Bekum do Brasil Industria e Comercio Ltda. has purchased a second factory to make blow molding machines in brazil, but has put the expansion on hold, pending an uptrun in the market, according to officials to the Sao Paulo-based firm. Significant structual changes in Brazil's blow molding machinery market have prompted Bekum management in Germany to delay starting up the 215,000 square foot plant, which is about three miles from its current site near Sao Paulo.
The purchase of the land and building, along with other planned equipment expansions and upgrades, would amount to a multi miillion-dollar investment, Bekum Brasil officials said in an interview in Sao Paulo in late May. They updated the company's plans in mid-July.
The capital-equipment investment program, which already has recieved corporate approval, would include replacing the firm's existing half-dozen or so computer numerically controlled milling machines with new units, and adding two or three more, said Benedito Monteiro Barbosa, Bekum do Brasil's export sales manager, and Fernando Moraes, sales manager.
However, the competitive landscape is changing quickly. In May, Johnson Controls Inc. formally announced it had entered into a joint venture with Brazil's Irmaos Sermeraro Ltda. to manufacture JCI's Uniloy blow molding machines in Brazil.
Last summer, Germany's Battenfeld Group bought Brazilian maker Pugliese Maquinal e Equipamentos Ltda., and Dekum officials said they have heard a German blow molding machine supplier may start its own Brazilian operation.
In light of these shifting sands, Bekum is reviewsing market prospects and its strategic options, company officials said.
The firm has built about 1,300 blow molding machines in Brazil sice it began manufacturing there 20 years ago, and now employs 200 in an 86,400-square-foot factory in the Sao Paulo suburb of Socorro. Barbosa said his firm sold 80 Brazilian-made blow molding machines last year, of which 26, worth a total of US$4 million to $5 million, were exported to Africa, Asia and Latin American countries.
The company can make sophisticated, multilayer manchines, but there is little local demand for anything but conventional, single-station units.
Bekum do Brasil currently operates two eitht-hour shifts, siz days a week, and can trun out anout 12 machines per month.
"Only after outdoing this production, we think that it will be possible to start to operate in our second unit," Moraes and Alexandre Duarte, Bekum Brasil's sales administration chief, said in a written statement. "We are working now [to nationalize] some models" that now are made in Germany and the United States. "We will start with the BM-304D, a double-station blow molder that is completely automated, with take-out and punching and post controls."