Industry 4.0 transforms how manufacturers produce and deliver products through digitalization and automation. Such automation projects are often complex and time-consuming, especially when manufacturers retrofit to drive operational efficiencies. These projects typically require an ecosystem of partners working together to get them done right and deliver the best possible outcome.
Brazil, being among the top ten largest economies globally, is actively engaged in numerous Industry 4.0 projects. Demand is high among manufacturers to replace aging equipment and obsolescent technologies. Vale Automação, operating across Southern Brazil and the Bahia region of the Northeast, serves clients across the industrial spectrum, including lumber, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, metallurgy, paper, and textiles. At Vale Automação, we leverage our partner ecosystem of industrial automation system integrators and suppliers to help clients meet their automation and digitalization goals.
Finding the right system integrator for the job
As an industrial automation distributor, we play the role of matchmaker. We match the system integrator to the client, the solution to the client’s needs, and the supplier to the solution – all with a keen focus on value. We also guide the client and the system integrator to help them decide which technologies and equipment best fit their objectives. This includes training system integrator partners to keep them current on technologies so they can improve customer value.
When we take on an automation project, we perform preliminary work to determine the customer’s needs, and then we identify the system integrator with the right qualifications. We find the best fit regarding software and automation expertise, integration capabilities, implementation experience, and vertical focus. Three criteria go into picking the right partner for the job:
- Expertise – We consider two types of expertise: Firstly, technical expertise, which encompasses the ability to program motion controllers, robotics, process controllers, telemetry, SCADA, and MES programming, among others. This proficiency ensures the suitability of the equipment and its alignment with client requirements. Secondly, process expertise plays a crucial role as it involves a deep understanding of each process to propose the most effective automation programming solutions, considering factors such as efficiency, optimization, and seamless integration.
- Technical capacity – If a large project requires a team of 40 people for implementation, we want to ensure the system integrator has the resources to meet that need. In some cases, a plant may have to shut down temporarily for the project’s duration, so the system integrator needs the capacity to complete the project expeditiously. Naturally, smaller projects can be handled by smaller companies.
- Regional reach – Working within an ecosystem, we respect our partners’ regional boundaries and reach. While a partner with national reach makes sense sometimes, we endeavor to work with partners close to the customers to make the process more effective.
The payoff to leveraging the best partner ecosystem is project success.
Our reliance on a partner ecosystem benefits everyone involved. Clients benefit from improved operations that drive efficiencies and help them win new business. Integrators benefit by leveraging our expertise and supplier relationships. We also handle the sales process when needed because some system integrators want to focus on technology rather than sales. The benefit to us as a distributor is the assurance of a job well done. By assisting the system integrator in delivering optimal solutions, we also establish a cycle of repeat business for ourselves. We call this a win, win, win.
A recent greenfield sustainability project to automate a waste-to-energy plant, which burns trash to generate biogas, required a partner with automation expertise for this specific industry. In this case, the partner came to us. We didn’t have to do the matchmaking, but the system integrator met our expertise, capacity, and geography requirements. So, we were able to effectively facilitate the connection and help the client reach their goals.
A recent brownfield project required a complete retrofit of a glass production facility with aging equipment and obsolete technology that was no longer supported. It was in dire need of modernization. This large project required a large system integrator. Vale didn’t have a system integrator with the right profile. So, Schneider Electric matched us with a partner with the expertise to design, engineer, and execute the implementation.
The Value of Partnership
The importance of working with experts is immeasurable. With automation projects, the work doesn’t necessarily end with deployment. Here, too, the ecosystem plays a major role – we team with Schneider and our partners to provide post-installation support, including remote monitoring and maintenance. If needed, we can have someone onsite quickly to handle an issue. And this all comes down to working together to deliver value for clients.
In this context, our partnership with Schneider Electric is fundamental. Schneider Electric has designated us as an Alliance Master Industrial Automation Distributor (IAD), recognizing our essential role in leveraging our ecosystem to provide customers with a transformative, end-to-end experience. Being an Alliance Master IAD also means we are better positioned than ever to – together with our partners – deliver the value our customers need to thrive in the digital economy.
If you want to learn more about the role of partnership in successful modernization projects, visit my colleague Jonathan Russi’s article, “In Brazil, Industry 4.0 is about striking a balance between old and new”. Jonathan’s perspective on this topic provides valuable insights and strategies for achieving success in the age of Industry 4.0.”
Vale Automação Industrial Ltda
Vale Automação, based in Blumenau, operates in the industrial automation market. We distribute specialized electrical materials (such as those from Schneider Electric), provide consulting services, and design, implement, and manage automation projects. Our highly trained and qualified technical team enthusiastically shares its knowledge and expertise with our Brazil clients, especially in the Santa Catarina region. Visit our website to learn how we can help you.
Schneider Electric Alliance Partner Program
Through the Schneider Electric Alliance Partner Program, we empower companies to develop new capabilities to better support the digital transformation of customers and work in partnership to strengthen business resiliency.