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Brazil had to struggle with the Corona pandemic more than other countries. Neither the transformation of the automotive industry to electric drive nor investments in machines for the combustion engine have really taken place so far. Currently a difficult economic situation for B. GROB do Brasil, the oldest plant in the GROB plant network. We spoke with its President Michael Bauer on the occasion of the In-house Exhibition in Mindelheim.

Never before has GROB been able to show such a large product range at a trade fair as it currently does. Which products from this enormous portfolio are best suited for the Brazilian market?

 

Impressive are the different options of the universal machining centers and their different applications, which are perfectly suited for the Brazilian market. In particular, the 4-axis machines that we have now launched on the market give us the opportunity to enter new segments. This is already opening up a large spectrum of new customers. For example, we were able to generate more than 1,000 new leads in Brazil, which we are now examining for potential customers. 

 

What inputs and ideas will you take back to Brazil from this In-house Exhibition?

 

A whole range of different automation solutions is presented at the exhibition, giving our customers completely new perspectives in terms of improving their productivity. This is a new market that is growing strongly in Brazil, as wages have increased enormously and the pressure for productivity has thus grown accordingly.

 

It took a long time for 5-axis machines to gain market acceptance in Brazil. Now GROB also has 4-axis machines in its portfolio. What consequences does this have for your sales?

 

The future belongs to 5-axis machines, as they enable complete machining and improve quality. At B. GROB do Brasil we have always focused on high-tech, and yet we know that in Brazil the machining center market consists of 70 percent 4-axis machines. Our comeback into the 4-axis market, which we had before, has allowed us to gain many new customers again.

 

Why is the electric drive having such a hard time in Brazil?

 

Electromobility is not yet an issue in Brazil because Brazilians simply lack the purchasing power. The electrical infrastructure in Brazil is also not suitable, and the distances are much greater than in Europe. Brazil then has a good alternative in the form of its ethanol program. The cycle of alcohol produced from sugar cane is very environmentally friendly. This is also one of the reasons why Brazil will come to electromobility much later.

 

Brazil has always played an important role as a strong partner in the GROB plant network. Is this still the case today, against the backdrop of the advance of electric vehicles?

 

Yes, because we still have a cost advantage over Germany. Brazil has also already started to develop electromobility projects in joint cooperation with Mindelheim. These include, for example, our impregnation furnaces, the chamber and through-type furnaces, which we supply to Bluffton/USA and Mindelheim/Germany. These furnaces are used for the impregnation of stators and rotors. We are also already carrying out training assignments for the GROB Group for commissioning. Indirectly, we are preparing to handle e-mobility projects by two years at the latest. The next step would then be that we not only supply these components, but also build lines for electromobility. Whereby we have decided to start with rotor and EDU (electric drive unit) lines. Employees in Bluffton and Mindelheim are currently being trained for this. 

 

The Brazilian automotive industry has been severely affected by supply difficulties for materials and semi-finished products. What impact does this have on B. GROB do Brasil?

 

The effects for B. GROB do Brasil are quite clear, as there is currently less investment in the automotive sector. There is currently a 50 percent surplus of capacity in Brazil; in addition, investments are currently largely being made only in e-mobility.

 

We feel that the plant network is growing strongly again, that B. GROB do Brasil can also make its contribution, and that we can enter the electromobility business step by step via the GROB plant network.

 

Thank you very much for the interview!