Satipel launched its first fibreboard unit, a 350,000m3/year Siempelkamp ContiRoll line, at its expanding main panel complex in Uberaba, Minas Gerais state in July. Its first MDF board went on the market in September (2008).
That project has been achieved in parallel with another huge scheme in which the São Paulo-based firm is constructing a big 700,000m3/year continuous MDP line to replace its old batch line in Taquari, southern Brazil.
Phase one of this plan will see a new 30.7m-long Siempelkamp press going onstream in the middle of next year with an initial output of 460,000m3/year – more than twice that of Taquari’s 38-year-old 12-daylight press unit. A second phase, reaching the full 700,000m3/year capacity, is currently due for completion in 2011, according to the firm.
The timing of both projects has been prompted by Satipel’s reading of the Brazilian panel market and forecasts of continued growth, particularly for MDF consumption, in coming years.
The company’s two expansion schemes involve a combined investment of around US$250m and theirs is just one of a number of major expansion plans the Brazilian industry is currently undertaking.
Confidence remained high among producers earlier this year. They believed fervently that their markets would continue to demand more panel products, justifying these significant investments.
This confidence seems to be underpinned by the strength of the domestic panels market, which grew at a rate of around 10% in 2007 and is forecast to expand by a further 5-10% this year.
“Overall growth this year will be about 8%, which is still quite good,said Satipel’s Roberto Sczachnowicz.
Producers justify the latest cycle of panel industry capacity plans based on Brazil’s longer-term sustainable development and, particularly, construction industry growth, according to Satipel’s commercial vice-president Mr Sczachnowicz.
“We all know Brazil has a real deficit of housing and living conditions. We have more than 100 million people who need to move to new and better housing. And one day, they will be furnishing those empty spaces that are now being built.
“So, that was the main driver for the expansion programme which is happening in the panel industry today,he explained.
Even so, the executive admits to some concern about the medium-term market position, with a big jump in supply as new panel lines, including Duratex’s one for one million m3/year of MDP, due on-stream [maybe] in 2010, are launched.
Brazil’s panel producers are aware that they will likely have to start to export some of their increased output with up to two years of over-capacity at home. But export may prove more difficult in the face of currency exchange fluctuation, higher tariff barriers and a lingering global economic downturn.
Meanwhile, Satipel is confident its new lines, especially the MDF plant, will prove competitive in the marketplace. At Uberaba, the new 2.75m-wide MDF line will benefit from efficiency and lower costs, sharing an optimised existing infrastructure installed with Satipel’s existing 2,000m3/day Siempelkamp ContiRoll MDP line there.
At Taquari, Satipel still runs its 200,000m3/year Becker & Van Hülen multi-opening-press MDP line, along with two lamination units: a 1980 Siempelkamp melamine overlay line with 72,000m3/year capacity and a 216,000m3/year Wemhöner installed in 2006. It also runs a 1980s Babcock impregnation line.
Unusually, the southern Brazilian plant also operates its own furniture components unit with a variety of semi-finished cut-to-size MDP parts, employing edgebanding, profiling and post-forming techniques and sold on to furniture manufacturers.
Production of the well-invested 20-year-old line is limited, accounting for only around 5-10% of the plant’s board production this year. But it provides a valuable extra value-added business.
The Taquari mill occupies a spacious site surrounded by forest plantations and with a large 30,000m2 lake softening the hard industrial landscape, as well as providing a valuable water resource.
The new continuous MDP line is being integrated gradually alongside the old batch line. Some existing infrastructure, including the woodyard and some wood processing equipment, such as one Bison dryer and a ring flaker, are being retained.
Apart from the new press, Satipel will install a Büttner dryer with a 33-35 tonne water evaporation drying capacity.
Also, all downstream resources including finishing will be installed and ready for the line’s ultimate capacity, explained Satipel’s operations vice-president Mauro Pini França when WBPI visited the site in July 2008.
Next year, the Taquari plant will see its laminating paper impregnation section upgraded with a new Italian Tocchio line due to be installed in the second quarter. A similar line has been ordered and will be delivered to the Uberaba site at the same time.
Major ground works were still under way at Taquari in July, including the
construction of a new perimeter route allowing trucks serving the new plant to circulate smoothly.
Wood used at Taquari varies from virgin roundwood to chips, sawmill offcuts and a selection of industrial waste wood, some laminated.
Satipel recycles material from clients as well as from its own components line. Up to 50% of the plant’s total wood supply has been made up of recycled waste material, but that proportion should fall when panel making expands, according to Mr França.
Satipel intends to capitalise on its close proximity to the River Taquari, part of a network of rivers reaching across the state of Rio Grande do Sul.
The firm expects to establish a small river dock at the foot of a maintenance road for barges to unload wood chips from more distant forests. It will move the chips the few hundred metres up to the plant by conveyor.
“It will allow us to have extra wood from other regions of the state at a competitive price….chips brought by river could amount to 30% of the total wood used, where the river is much cheaper than trucking,said Mr França, who has since left the company to take up another post.
Satipel’s latest investment in Taquari will mean that it can expect to remain Brazil’s leader in MDP production for some time to come.
From 2011, when the local line’s phase II is complete, the firm can boast a two-site capacity of 1.5 million m3/year. This takes account of its 100,000m3/year five-daylight press line at Uberaba.
It will also benefit from increased production there from its MDF line, which includes a 30m long, 2.75m wide, Siempelkamp ContiRoll press; CMC Texpan forming section; Andritz refiner; Büttner dryer; a glue kitchen from Imal; Siempelkamp SHS transport/storage system and a Steinemann eight-head sanding line.
In recent years, increasing industrial development by the panel industry in southern Brazil has been aimed at Brazil’s main Bento Gonçalves furniture making zone. Masisa do Brasil Ltda is set to launch its upgraded 750,000m3/year Dieffenbacher MDP line at Montenegro, Rio Grande do Sul (RS), early next year, while in the same state, Fibraplac Chapas de MDF Ltda could also launch a 500,000 m3/year MDP line at Glorinha, RS late in 2009 and two plywood makers were due to launch small Chinese MDF lines in Santa Catarina state by late 2008.
Meanwhile, new furniture manufacturing zones are developing in northern and central Brazil and the buying power of poorer Brazilians in the nation’s northeast and west is growing fast.
Satipel, which went public last year, is convinced it’s latest investments in Taquari, and 1,500km north in Uberaba, will allow it to take full advantage of future market growth in both southern and northern Brazil.