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Written by: Simone Talarico
The featured characteristics of Soletrol, a company founded and headquartered in the city of Sao Manuel in the interior of the state of Sao Paulo, are investment in the expansion of industrial capacity, development of new technologies, emphasis on the fine-tuning of industrial processes, and importance placed on professional’s training. All this added to the effective exercise of corporate leadership.
The company has been in the market for 33 years, serves all of Brazil and exports its products to a variety of nations. “Soletrol has a unique structure that no other company in all the Americas has and it is effectively the market leader, not only producing more significant quantities than its competitors, but it is also a major developer of technology and innovative products, having popularized the solar water heater as well as spreading knowledge and training professionals across the sector,” says the Director President of the company, Luis Augusto Ferrari Mazzon.
AN INNOVATIVE COMPANY
Regarding new technologies, Soletrol created and developed the market for solar water heaters for low-income housing, popularizing the use of the technology and providing energy savings to the neediest families.
An example of industrial innovation are the solar collectors whose assembly does not require rivets or screws. The innovation not only stimulates production, it also guarantees a longer useful life for the products. This is one of the 27 patents and Rights of Industrial Design (RID) that Soletrol holds.
The automated processes through which pass the metal welding of Soletrol thermal reservoirs as well as the models made of thermoplastics, guarantee higher quality and durability in the resulting manufactured products.
The purchase of new production equipment also is part of the company’s non-stop quest to stay ahead of the market. In 2013, the company invested R$2 million in the purchase and installation of a rotational molding machine and line. The equipment, which builds the internal structure of the thermal reservoirs used in low-income housing projects as well as in products offered to the general market, was purchased to meet the growing demand stemming from contracts Soletrol signed with builders throughout the country.
In 2015, the company will have finalized an investment of nearly R$ 5 million. Of this amount, approximately 50% was allocated for the purchase of equipment and the expansion of the company’s technical support capacity, such as a building for the production process support sectors. The remaining half was allocated to the redesign of the production line and the expansion of the factory area to accommodate an increase in production capacity.
Soletrol also stands out for being the only company in Brazil that has a development and test lab for solar heaters and new technologies, the Soletrol Technology Center.
In addition, the company participates in training market professionals. Soletrol is the founder and sponsor of the University of the Sun – Augusto Mazzon Foundation, which provides theoretical and practical training, supports technical projects and publications, and sponsors television programs that promote the training of the sector’s labor force, such as the program Solar Energy on TV – ESNTV.
PRODUCT FOR LOW-INCOME HOUSING
Soletrol serves all solar market segments through the provision of water heating equipment in homes that are already-built (traditional or high level) or are under construction as well as in commercial and industrial buildings, hotels and pools.
Since 2012, a large proportion of the products made by the company (50% of current production) is aimed at the low-income housing market – popular homes up to 120 sq. meters in area in which compact heaters that cost approximately R$ 1,300 are installed. Among these programs, the CDHU (low income housing office of the state of Sao Paulo) and COHAB (a state-owned company responsible for running public housing policy in the city of São Paulo and its metropolitan region) programs stand out, along with the MCMV – “Minha Casa, Minha Vida” (“My House, My Life”), an initiative of the federal government.
“The big trend of the moment, the segment is responsible for nearly 30% of the sector’s sales. We expect even larger growth in market share in 2014, as President Dilma Rousseff announced the third phase of the ‘My Life, My House’ program, which will include more than 3 million new housing units,” comments the Director President.
EXPANSION AND PARTNERSHIPS
In addition, the company is significantly increasing its distribution channels and strengthening its participation in the pools segment. “Recently, we signed a partnership agreement with the Israeli firm MAGEN, the world leader in the production of solar collectors for pools. Through this partnership, a factory jointly operated by Magen and Soletrol will be producing this technology in Brazil in less than two years,” he details.
In 2013, Soletrol sold 400,000 sq. meters of flat collectors only in the domestic market, which accounts for 97% of the company’s revenues). In 2014, sales are expected to grow by nearly 30%.
According to Mazzon, the solar water heater sector is undergoing the process of requiring the certification of manufactured and marketed products. Therefore, only equipment tested and certified by INMETRO (National Institute of Metrology, Standardization and Industrial Quality)
will be allowed in the market beginning in July 2015.
To comply with the new regulations, Soletrol created a quality management system with internal and external audits of all its production processes. “This is an important moment and a turning point, not only for the industry but also for the end user, who will expect even better products”, the executive concludes.