07-01-19 Portuguese mould production
Portugal, besides its people, landscape, food, fado(music), and football (soccer) - e.g. CR7, has also lots of technological enhancements and capacity in industry unknown by most, such has tool/ mould making; lets have a glance at it.
The world's eighth-largest moldmaking country sits on the edge of Europe in relative obscurity. Evolved from a centuries-old glass-making tradition, Portugal today boasts some of the most advanced and innovative moldmaking businesses that have nearly doubled their export and production rate over the past ten years. Here is a look at this country’s recipe for success.
Many companies in Portugal are investing increasingly in five-axis machining centers and automation to produce high-end molds for customers in the automotive, packaging, home appliances and medical industries.
With a centuries-old glass-making tradition that crossed naturally over into creating molds for plastics parts in the 1940s, Portugal today is a hotbed of moldmaking and exporting, and molds from Portugal can be found in almost every major end market for plastics.
Portugal’s moldmaking hot spots, M. Grande and Oliveira de Azeméis, are located just 130 km north of Lisbon and 40 kilometers south Porto, respectively. The regions combine more than 500 tool and moldmaking companies, many of them in walking distance from one another. The industry in these two regions employs a good 10,500 people, bringing the local unemployment rate down to less than four percent;
Most companies in this regions report that they have invested in or have plans to invest in new five-axis machines, software, paperless production, lean management and automation equipment. Some companies also have invested heavily in new, modern buildings and work environments that are sure to attract the best talent in town.
So, what has happened since the GFC, when competition from low-cost countries and the sharp depreciation of the U.S. dollar against the euro combined to wreak havoc on the economy of the small European nation? By 2012, for example, mold exports to North America reached a historic low of just two percent of Portugal’s total mold exports. Today, exports to North America have risen to 10 percent, including Mexico, according to Cefamol, the National Association for the Molds Industry.
One reason is government funding through the “Portugal 2020” strategy, which is part of “Europe 2020,” a European strategy to foster productivity and employment, among other things. Portugal will receive about 25 billion euros until 2020 to reach the goals defined by the European strategy, such as decreasing the unemployment rate and stimulating the growth of businesses.
The other reasons are new and emerging markets, a strong automotive industry (82 percent of Portugal’s molds are for the automotive industry, followed by packaging (8 percent)) and the mold industry’s own efforts to retool itself.
About ten years ago, the sector’s local leaders, in close coordination with the Portuguese Ministry of Economy and Innovation, founded the private, nonprofit Association to manage the Portuguese engineering and tooling cluster. Formally recognized as a legal entity by the Portuguese government in 2009, the cluster’s goal is to drive innovation and coordinate firms in the manufacturing supply chain that are engaged in industrial design, engineering and product development, prototyping, tooling, plastic and metal parts production.
Sharp Rise in Product Exports
All this led to Portugal’s moldmaking industry being busy with work and realizing a sharp rise in product exports. “We are very proud of this industry, which experienced a growth of 8 percent last year,” Portugal’s Minister for Economic Affairs, said. “Portugal currently exports over 85 percent of production to 86 countries. In 2017, exports reached a value of 675 million euros. Exports and employment have doubled in the last 10 years. Europe is the main export zone, although exports to North America and Mexico are increasing.”
In Portugal, business is good, Faustino says, but OEM investments are moderate because people are anxious about current changes in the automotive market, like e-mobility, “Dieselgate” and growing competition from China. As a result, prices for molds and tools decreased in 2018, and companies which earn 80 percent of their turnover from the automotive industry, have to adjust and develop strategies to optimize production.
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