Steel for oranges? 3 minutes spent reading

Steel for oranges?

Christopher Eberl
Christopher Eberl is editorially responsible for the topics on the blog as well as for the apprentice website. With his stories he provides deep insights into the diverse world of the voestalpine Group.

In an interview, Mário Júnior explains what the cultivation of oranges has to do with voestalpine steel products from Brazil. Mário Júnior is responsible for voestalpine Meincol II production facility in Brazil and also for the current expansion of the site.

A few years ago, Brazil was in the middle of recession and then came the 2020 slump caused by Covid-19. But last year things finally picked up again in the South American country. The OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) projects gross domestic product (GDP) growth to reach 5% in 2021. One of the growth drivers is the agricultural sector, which is also benefiting rollform specialist voestalpine Meincol.

Plant Manager Mário Júnior S. and Production coordinator Heriberto R. in front of the new Meincol II factory premises.

Plant Manager Mário Júnior S. and Production coordinator Heriberto R. in front of the new Meincol II factory premises.

Growing agricultural sector

With 5.5 million square kilometers of arable land, Brazil is one of the world’s largest producers of agricultural products. To give you an idea of the size, all EU countries together have a total area of 4.2 million square kilometers. Global demand for food continues to rise, and Brazil will be able to benefit from this demand.

For example, the country is by far the number one in the cultivation of oranges. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), around 15.9 million tons of oranges were produced in Brazil in 2020/21. China comes in second with “only” 7.5 million tons. Brazil also ranks first internationally in sugar and soybean production, second in poultry, and third in corn. “And the agricultural sector still has sustainable growth potential,” points out Meincol II Plant Manager Mário Júnior.

Important supplier to agricultural sector

What does this have to do with voestalpine in Brazil? voestalpine Meincol is an important supplier to this agricultural sector. The company produces special and standard tubes as well as system components for cabs in agricultural machinery such as tractors and combine harvesters. This makes the manufacturers of these products important customers. The Who’s Who of customers includes renowned premium customers. “And the solar sector is also growing in Brazil thanks to customers who produce solar trackers,” adds Mário Júnior.

"The team did a great job and surmounted all difficulties."
Project Manager Mário Júnior S.

voestalpine Meincol expansion in Forqueta

In 2008, the Metal Forming Division acquired the family-owned Brazilian company Meincol Distribuidora de Acos. Five years later, the first expansion step took place in Forqueta when Meincol II was built—a new plant 7 kilometers away from the main Meincol I plant. Now Meincol II has been expanded by a further 8,000 square meters to a total of 20,000 square meters. Two new laser machines are used to produce components for tractors and harvesters. The number of employees has increased accordingly: six additional colleagues are working with the new laser machines, and two overhead crane operators and two maintenance technicians have been or will be added by May. Soon, voestalpine Meincol II will employ just over 100 people.

Mário Júnior: “The biggest challenge in the course of expanding production was combining construction and ongoing operations.” The workforce had to cope with many restrictions during construction, such as the non-availability of loading gates and overhead cranes. But in the end, the project was successfully completed and the plant will start up full operation in the next few days. Mário Júnior is enthusiastic about his colleagues, “The team did a great job and surmounted all difficulties.”

voestalpine Meincol II is expanding

  • Production area increased from 12,000 to 20,000 square meters
  • 10 new jobs
  • 2 new laser machines
  • Production focus: cab components
Christopher Eberl