The Insper-promoted event brought together representatives from different industrial sectors to analyze the prospects for Brazilian production companies
The manufacturing sector is an important part of a society’s development, generating quality jobs and fostering innovation, research, and education. In recent years, Brazil has been continuously losing its industrial strength, and today there is great concern about its future. Therefore, on April 6, prominent names of the Brazilian manufacturing sector met with economists and Insper researchers to discuss the course of the industry in the webinar Existe futuro para a Indústria? (Is there a future for Manufacturing?).
The event had as guests João Paulo Gualberto da Silva, Superintendent Director of Energy at WEG S.A., Eduardo Ribeiro, CEO of Companhia Brasileira de Metalurgia e Mineração (CBMM), and Paulo Hartung, Executive President of the Indústria Brasileira de Árvores (Ibá). Those responsible for mediating the meeting were João Fernando Gomes de Oliveira, Professor of Manufacturing at the University of São Paulo (USP) – São Carlos, Entrepreneur, and Member of the Insper Board, and José Roberto Mendonça de Barros, Economist and Partner at consulting firm MB Associados.
At the end of the webinar, we had also invited for a debate Pedro Wongtschowski, Charmain of the Board at Grupo Ultra, Pedro Passos, Co-chairman of the Board of Directors and Co-founder of Natura, Marcelo Medeiros, Chairman of the Board at Alpargatas and President of Insper’s External Evaluation Commission (CEA, for its acronym in Portuguese); Horácio Lafer Piva, Chairman of the Board at Klabin, and Claudio Haddad, Insper’s Founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors.
Marcos Lisboa, President of Insper, opened the webinar by presenting an overview of the Brazilian industrial sector and celebrating the success stories present at the event. “With all the difficulties we have in Brazil, there are amazing stories of entrepreneurial success based on innovation and internationalization. For us, it is delightful to be able to listen to some of those stories”.
Following, mediator José Roberto Mendonça de Barros explained how the idea of the webinar has risen, from talks concerning the stagnation of the Brazilian industrial sector. “We asked ourselves if it would be possible to resume growing sustainably without the manufacturing sector’s participation. And the answer was no, as the industry still has in itself a substantial part of the innovations responsible for increased productivity and changes in the system.”
Innovation and Internationalization
The first of the meeting’s talks addressed the history of WEG, a Brazilian multinational manufacturer that operates in North America, Asia, and Europe. It has several branches of action in the production of engines, automation, paint, besides in the production, transmission, and distribution of energy.
João Paulo Gualberto da Silva, Superintendent Director of Energy at WEG, spoke about the company’s initiatives to ensure excellence in the industrial market, using as themes two main factors: The company’s innovation and internationalization. “With years of history and success, WEG has implemented participatory management systems that were one of the major cornerstones for company success. All decisions are made by committees and are depersonalized. With this, the level of governance in the company is high.”
According to João Paulo, the company had instituted programs to encourage new ideas with a model that invests in research and development to perpetuate innovative processes and generate exclusivity. “Some of the most important aspects of Industry 4.0 are data analysis and autonomous decision or artificial intelligence. With that goal in mind, we had created an evolution pyramid that invests in startups to promote innovation. Also, from the internationalization standpoint, we had invested in the creation of Research and Development Centers and 109 laboratories around the world, besides in partnerships with universities in Brazil and other countries.”
Process and application technology
The second guest was Eduardo Ribeiro, CEO of Companhia Brasileira de Metalurgia e Mineração (CBMM). Headquartered in the state of Minas Gerais, the company is a world leader in niobium refining and marketing. “To transform a natural product without great economic value into niobium, it was necessary to develop technology in different fields with a strong innovation component.”
According to Eduardo, CBMM’s economic advantage is related not only to the product’s natural reserve — as there are other 85 known deposits around the world —, but also to the process technology and application technology developed together with customers, reducing costs and increasing the productivity. “Industrial processes were developed to concentrate and refine the ore, designing a plant that would be cost-competitive and productive, ensuring the best prices among niobium producers.”
Also, partnerships with universities and research institutes have been created over the years, triangulating client needs with the development of new applications for the product. “Together with our clients, we had developed applications for niobium, adding value to the productive chains of mobility, energy, structural applications, and space applications. We have always been able to demonstrate to our clients what value this product has for the production chain”, explained the company CEO.
Innovation, scale, and regulation
In the third contribution to the event, Paulo Hartung, Executive President of forestry association Indústria Brasileira de Árvores (Ibá) and Governor of the Brazilian State of Espírito Santo for two terms, spoke about the sector of trees grown for industrial purposes. It is a branch that has seen significant growth in the last 50 years.
For him, the sector’s sustainability was based on three pillars: Innovation, scale, and self-regulation. “A first important element was innovation, starting with the introduction of eucalyptus and very successful research that was a differentiator in our pulp production. After that, we needed to seek scale up our products, with exports to the most diverse markets, and also the regulation of production based on recognized certifications.”
Paulo Hartung also spoke about the future prospects faced by the tree industry with the development of new technologies and processes. “Looking ahead, the sector will need to position itself with applied research, new uses, and new applications of its production. We can say that paper production, which mobilized the industry’s innovation in the past, is now undergoing a transition to new formats, which brings with it the challenge of innovating again.”
Debate and guests
In the webinar’s final segment, a debate on topics related to the manufacturing movement was opened. In it, themes such as long-term projects with a strategic vision, new sustainability-based models with higher productivity, the circular economy, and integration between agriculture, manufacturing, and services were discussed.
Watch the webinar’s full recording here (in portuguese):
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