Continued Machinery Investments for Brazilian Producer
February 10, 2006
Already established as a major exporter of Brazilian granite, Thor Granitos continues to add new technology to its operation.
Based in ItaboraÃ, Rio di Janeiro, Brazil, Thor Granitos has been in business for 25 years and has grown from a domestic supplier to a major exporter with markets around the world - including the U.S. marketplace. Over the past few years, the company has continually invested in new technology, including Italian equipment for both slab and tile production.
The company produces slabs, tiles and cut-to-size work from blocks of Brazilian granite, most of which comes from company-owned or controlled quarries. Exclusives include Red Samba, Juparana San Rafael and Midnight Black granites, among others.
In order to satisfy international market demands, Thor Granitos has expanded its line of equipment. â€œAs a result of the market inputs received, we had to program large-scale production of granite slabs and tiles,â€ explained Melchior Stolk, sales manager for Thor Granitos. â€œWe also understood that the market was demanding the highest aesthetic quality for our stones. We found in Pedrini a manufacturer capable of producing all of the machinery we required, and they collaborated with us in order to achieve our objectives.â€
On the tile-production side, the company added two new blockcutters to its facility, giving it a total of three Pedrini units. â€œIn different stages over recent years, we have installed a Pedrini M594 cutting center, followed by two Pedrini M596 cutting centers, each one doubling the cutting capacity of the M594,â€ Stolk said. â€œWe are pleased to say that we have achieved an extremely high level of production with a small number of cutting machines.â€ The blockcutters cut blocks into strips, which are maneuvered through the facility with automated equipment.
Resin-treated ProductsIn order to improve aesthetics of its products, Thor Granitos has invested in technology for mass production of resin-treated tiles and slabs. â€œWe bought a strip resining line and a slab resining line from Pedrini,â€ Stolk explained. â€œThe resin treatment improves and highlights the aesthetic characteristics of the material, in addition to giving it structural reinforcement.â€
Automated material handling equipment for both tiles and slabs allows the material to be resin treated with optimum speed. â€œTo achieve extremely high productivity, Pedrini suggested adding a material transporting rack to both [the slab and tile] lines,â€ Stolk said. â€œWe also have a pre-polishing line immediately prior to the strip-resining line, on which a set of strips is loaded to each rack, thus achieving high prod-uctivity, even when working with a very low rack speed, every two minutes. The same processing speed is available in a slab line, where each rack carries one slab.â€
Thor Granitos worked closely with Pedrini to develop a plant layout that would work well with the company's specific production needs. â€œIn accordance with the technicians at Pedrini, we organized our production into 'production stations,' â€œ Stolk said. â€œWe have completely automated strip-cutting sections, a completely automated preparation and resining line and a slab finishing line, also completely automated. Each section is independent from the others and can therefore work completely autonomously. We didn't want to install a continuous, highly compressed line, because it would have been very difficult to organize. The same principles were applied to our slab production. This decision has shown itself to be highly satisfactory from all points of view.â€
Company StructureIn all, Thor Granitos currently employs over 600 people, not counting those dedicated to quarrying, and its materials are shipped around the world. â€œThor Granitos exports to all continents, although the North American market is still our major consumer,â€ Stolk said.
One company philosophy is to keep the production process carefully balanced, so that the same emphasis on quality is in place for all finished products. â€œWe organize our production integrally, starting with the blocks and achieving various finished products in a highly industrial manner,â€ said Stolk. â€œThis permits us to continuously achieve a fairly important monthly production of slabs and tiles - produced with the greatest possible attention to production costs and high product quality. We are investing in improvements with respect to the delivery program and internal organization. Our challenge is not only to maintain, but to continue developing our levels of competitiveness and reliability for years to come.â€