[ForMóbile] Brazil Grows as a Top Furniture Producer and Enters Industry 4.0

[ForMóbile] Brazil Grows as a Top Furniture Producer and Enters Industry 4.0

Brazil aims to reach a higher level in the furniture industry with this year’s biennial exhibition ForMóbile. The event shows how the country continues to grow as a top furniture producer as it enters Industry 4.0. The president of the event’s organizers Sindmóveis, Edson Pelicioli, told ArchiExpo e-Magazine: 

“The internationalization of design services and also supply chains is a reality. We are working to position Brazil in this scenario as a player with competitive innovation.” 

An organization called Projeto Orchestra Brasil was created in 2006 to promote Brazilian component manufacturers in the international markets. The initiative is headed by Sindmóveis and Apex-Brasil, the federal government’s agency responsible for promoting the country’s exports. 

Brazil is the 12th biggest furniture producer in the world. Today, Brazil is the 12th biggest furniture producer in the world when it comes to turnover; exports in 2017 totaled 625,8 million dollars, an increase of 6,9% compared to 2016. A total of 45% of these exports go to other Latin American countries, while 7% go to France, Germany, Holland and Spain. However, markets like Mexico, the United States and the Middle East are increasing their orders.

Eduardo Trapp Santarossa, director of business intelligence of Sindmóveis, explained this growth to ArchiExpo e-Magazine: 

“Environmental sustainability, design and innovation are the key competitive strengths of our furniture industry today. And this sustainability is not limited to our certified woods and choosing environmentally friendly materials, which in itself has an immense appeal in the American and European markets; but also, for example, with partnerships that integrate small communities of artisans with the creative work of designers.” 

Textiles in the Wood Industry

Suppliers of fabrics used in furniture items have also created an important organization to promote their business. Since 1997 the Committee of Fabrics for Decoration (DecorHabit), part of the Brazilian Association of the Textile Industry (ABIT) brings fabric producers and furniture producers together, creating opportunities for even the smallest manufacturers from any region in Brazil to have access to the market information and trends. DecorHabit has even created a manual showing production techniques of using each kind of fabric in curtains, upholstered items, carpets and other finishes. 

Left: Jacquard fabric from the Amazonia collection by Tramare, with 81% cotton, 19% polyester.
Right: Linen by Tecidos Corcovado used mainly in curtains and cushion cases.

The companies that form this committee have a monthly production of two million meters of fabrics including jacquards, chenille, rustic, lace, voil, organzas and black-out. These fabrics can be made from completely natural materials such as silk, linen, rami and cotton or artificial (mixed) ones such as rayon, viscose and acetate and totally synthetic such as polyester, acrylic, polypropylene and fake fur.  

Angélica Giovannini, DecorHabit’s consultant on research and textile development, gave ArchiExpo e-Magazine her thoughts on the most important trends for 2018 and 2019:

  • References to nature and sustainability
  • Tropical patterns, especially foliage
  • African, folk or artisanal inspired graphic elements
  • Geometric elements for upholstered items
  • Voluminous forms in upholstered items in order to create comfort and coziness
  • Fabrics with a deliberately aged appearance that evokes artisanal printing and dyeing techniques

Industry 4.0 in Brazil’s Furniture Manufacturing

The so-called fourth industrial revolution, also known as Industry 4.0, could be defined as the pursuit of synergy between the material and digital worlds—more specifically, automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. This was one of the main topics of discussion during ForMóbile, and was demonstrated in the Circuit of the Manufacturing of the Future, formed by triple partnership of Stäubli, a supplier of mechatronic solutions; Nova Tecnologia, a firm devising methods for manufacture improvement, automation, safety, robotics and specialist machines; and Brasmacol, who make hardware for items such as doors and drawers. 

Visitors of the Circuit of the Manufacturing of the Future frequently requested demonstrations to show how Tangram—a Chinese puzzle made of five triangles, a square and a parallelogram— is manufactured. 

Circuit of the Manufacturing of the Future. Photo by Pepe Guimarães.

“Every stage of the process occurred without the use of physical connections between the machines and equipment,” Marcelo Silva, general manager of Stäubli, explained in a press release. 

They used Beckhoff’s TWINCAT 3 computer that has software that manages the whole process. It connects to other software and other industrial communication systems. Ricardo Silva, sales engineer of Beckhoff—responsible for some of the devices in the circuit—explained to ArchiExpo e-Magazine: 

“This experiment done in ForMóbile can be summarized as an integration of information with automation technology in a way that unites the production processes in order to optimize the manufacturing of the final product: the acrylic puzzle.” 

Circuit of the Manufacturing of the Future. Photo by Pepe Guimarães.

Becoming part of Industry 4.0 demands preparation and investment in research and development (R&D). Liliane Bortoluci, ForMóbile’s director, explained to ArchiExpo e-Magazine: 

“We need to promote knowledge so that the companies of the furniture sector are able to work with new technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, additive manufacturing, robotics, automation and so on. Another important point is that the industry should always invest in times of downturn. After all, when sales return to the desired levels, everything needs to be ready.” 

That applies particularly in Brazil’s case. Silva concludes: 

“We strongly believe that investment, and not only in the furniture industry, will soon return to the country. Now is the time to prepare for tomorrow.”

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