SAO PAULO, BRAZIL — Less than one year after opening a sales office in Sao Paulo, Alliance Plastics of Erie, Pa., plans to begin local manufacturing of a few items from its portfolio of 5,000 plugs and caps for the automotive industry.
Production is scheduled to start in early 1998, using part of the machinery installed at the Filtrona Brasileira Industria e Comercio Ltda. packaging molding plant, which opened in Sao Paulo in September.
Filtrona and Alliance are sister firms, both affiliated with Bunzl plc of London.
``With the phenomenal growth and forecast [for the automotive industry], we just had to come to Brazil,'' said Alliance President Tony Herbert.
The automotive sector accounts for about 30 percent of the firm's sales in the United States.
In three years, Alliance plans local production of about 75 percent of the 200 items requested by the auto industry in Brazil. Currently, the company is producing new tools for the initial parts to be manufactured there, said Michael J. Lamendola, vice president for sales and marketing.
Herbert also said the company is studying the possibility of entering the Asian market using the same strategy it did in Brazil, through a partnership with Filtrona's subsidiary in Indonesia.
``We can have a tremendous advantage together with Filtrona. Besides the similarity of the industrial process, they already know the region and how to do business there,'' he said.
Filtrona's new plant in Brazil cost about $6 million to $7 million, said Filtrona Brasileira President Renato Miranda. The 58,000-square-foot unit represents the first stage of a projected 202,000-square-foot facility designed to fulfill Filtrona's increasing sales, which have grown an average of 15 percent per year, especially in the cosmetics niche, he said.
The facility can make 100,000-150,000 caps monthly, on 11 Battenfeld and Demag presses with clamping forces of 150-200 tons. It also can make 10 million tubes a month on seven tube-molding lines assembled in-house.
``Some of the equipment was bought for the new factory while the other machines are semi-new and have come from Filtrona's packaging unit in Sao Paulo,'' he said.
In the first quarter of 1998, the firm will transfer 22 additional injection presses to the facility.
``The main reason we are coming to Brazil is not only because it is an important automotive market, but because it's one of the fastest-growing markets in the world,'' Herbert said.