BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA — Another Brazilian machinery company has linked up with a U.S. partner, this time for film and sheet equipment. Black Clawson Converting Machinery LLC and Rulli-Standard Ind£stria e Comercio de Maquinas Ltda. completed their alliance during the Argenplas 2000 show, held April 3-8 in Buenos Aires.
In June, they will exhibit together at NPE 2000 in Chicago, running a three-layer blown film line built by Rulli-Standard in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
If the trend continues, McCormick Place could end up resembling Rio during Carnival. Brazilian plastics equipment firms are raising their profiles at the show through partnerships with U.S. firms. Reed-Prentice Ltd. plans to roll out its first horizontal-clamp injection molding machine in a decade, a press built in Brazil by Reed's partner, Ind£strias Romi SA.
For Black Clawson and Rulli-Standard, the initial focus is on combining U.S.-made and Brazilian-made components into film-production systems for sale to Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, in the free-trade region known as Mercosul.
"We're really doing joint manufacturing in South America, and we're helping them distribute their products in North America," said Andy Christie, Black Clawson's extrusion business manager.
Rulli-Standard has licensed Black Clawson designs and machinery technology for equipment producing stretch, barrier, cast and embossed films.
Black Clawson, based in Fulton, N.Y., also plans to handle North American marketing of Rulli-Standard machines to make blown film and extruded sheet.
U.S.-made plastics equipment is expensive in Brazil, according to Christie.
"We've been trying to sell into the South American market, but our pricing structure has not been good," he said.
One big reason: The price of imported goods skyrocketed after Brazil devalued its currency, the real, in early 1999. Christie said the devaluation and import duties make it difficult to a sell a "U.S.-made" film machine in Brazil, the biggest Latin American market.
"The people in Brazil want to buy machinery in their currency," Christie said.
The solution was to blend content from both partners.
"We will work with them to manufacture some of the low-technology portion of our machines, and we would manufacture the high-technology portions," Christie said. "Then we combine those to sell to the South American market at a more-attractive pricing structure."
The two companies are not direct competitors. Rulli-Standard manufactures blown film lines and sheet extrusion equipment. Black Clawson specializes in machines to make cast film and do extrusion coating.
Black Clawson stopped making blown film machines in 1997 after it closed the Sano factory in Amelia, Ohio, that it had bought from Milacron Inc., Christie said. Black Clawson continues to offer Sano spare parts and service.
Christie, in a telephone interview after Argenplas, gave an example: "They don't do any cast machinery. So, say you're looking at a cast film line — from the casting section to the winder would be Black Clawson content. And extruders through the downstream components will be mostly Rulli content." Black Clawson would supply the screw design and flat die, using U.S. suppliers.
Rulli-Standard employs 120 people at its Sao Paulo headquarters plant. The company generates about $12 million in annual sales, according to Luis Carlos Rulli, commercial director.
Interviewed at the company's Argenplas booth, he said Latin American film processors want efficient equipment.
"This machine will be manufactured in Brazil under [Black Clawson] technology," he said.
Christie said that long-term plans call for Rulli-Standard to make more of the components for production lines sold in Latin America.
"But there is going to be a shared content until we can have a confidence level in their understanding and ability with the technology," he said.