Rapid transit in Brazil
How can you get thousands of people to their destinations, both safely and comfortably? With buses from Marcopolo. They offer great comfort and, at the same time, are quite trendy.
The starting whistle blows in the Arena de São Paolo. The 22 men on the field do their very best — as do the 65,000 in the bleachers. The opening match at the 2014 World Soccer Championship in Brazil is drawing enthusiasts into the arena — and that is literally just the beginning. 600,000 foreign fans will be cheering on their teams live, on the spot, in the tournament’s 63 games.
To make sure they can celebrate in the twelve stadiums, intelligent logistics are an absolute necessity. In preparation for the games, Brazil has adapted and expanded its infrastructure to accommodate the masses of people. “Bus Rapid Transit” is the key here. Dedicated bus lanes, priority at traffic lights, and low-floor buses speed up transit operations in the major cities.
Dashing through the city
Many visitors will travel to the stadium in a bus from Marcopolo S.A., located in the town of Caxias do Sul. The company manufactures the bodies for the vehicles, which will be in continuous service for the athletic events. Those who land a space in one of the high-speed buses will reach their destination not only reliably and safely, but with maximum comfort, too. “Marcopolo buses offer very high standards of comfort and convenience, complying with every requirement and demand for ideal passenger travel,” explains Nelson Gehrke, Director of Acquisitions and Logistics at Marcopolo. “Even with some delays in the building schedule, Brazil will profit from the infrastructure investments in the long term, since the country will then have high-quality public transit vehicles that are more comfortable, safer and faster. Those are exactly the advantages with which Marcopolo vehicles ensure improved mobility in the cities,” he emphasized.
The buses “Made in Brazil” are much in demand, and not only in their home country. In 2013 this manufacturer sold 31,000 vehicles. Of them, 18,000 stayed in Brazil. The remainder was manufactured in 10 other countries where Marcopolo has operations. In spite of a weak market, sales in Brazil have risen continuously since 2009. And in 2013 Marcopolo grew again by 8.6 percent. “Our customers want rugged buses, made to last, at competitive prices,” Gehrke notes. The company does its part to turn these wishes into reality. To name one example: A total of 320 million euros is being invested in the firm’s own factories during the period from 2007 to 2016. In 2014 alone, improvements will come to about 50 million euros.
Modern buses, modern machinery
A part of this investment package includes seven TruLaser 5030 fiber machines. In the past the bus maker used other processes to make up the parts. Marcopolo wanted to adopt a system that would better utilize input materials and would be more efficient and less expensive in use. Its choice was the solid-state laser. “The low operating costs and the high working speed convinced us,” says Gehrke. “We invest in processes and machines that enable us to work a variety of materials and let us make changes in the process at short notice.”
Those factors are especially important for this manufacturer, since sustainable mobility is a hot topic all around the world. Not only passenger cars, but buses, too, have to be made ever lighter, more efficient, and more eco-friendly. Marcopolo responds to more stringent legislation with thinner sheet metal, more stable alloys, and alternate materials. “Recyclable or recycled materials are being used more and more frequently,” Gehrke points out. “The sheet metal alloys and the final designs are in a state of transition. That makes for a change in processing, too.” In his eyes, the laser is the right tool, since it can be used for differing materials and at various gauges.
At present, Marcopolo is using the 2D laser machines to cut galvanized steel sheet between 0.95 and 3 millimeters thick, carbon steel from 3 to 4.75 millimeters, and aluminum sheet up to 2 millimeters thick. The batch sizes vary widely. It is no longer enough for those parts to be rugged and exhibit high quality. Nowadays they often have to be stylish, as well.
“The design of our bus bodies is quite essential,” Gehrke emphasizes. The vehicles are to be attractive and modern in appearance. The manufacturer’s own design center ensures that these goals are reached. That bears fruit. “The new Marcopolo models took the IF Product Design Award in 2014,” he relates. The creative team developed the Viale BRT Bus especially for rapid bus travel in major cities and adhered to current trends. Larger windows make for better viewing while interiors are dimensioned for increased comfort — for both the passengers and the driver. These are rounded off by the roof-mounted air conditioner and LED lighting throughout.
Progress for the future
The market is changing rapidly and Marcopolo uses its new technologies to stay in step. “We concentrate on investments and innovations, no matter whether in worker training or in developing even more sustainable and advanced processes and products,” says Gehrke. “Initial and ongoing training of our labor force is, of course, of critical importance.” He looks into the future with great confidence. That is because for Marcopolo the World Cup will be followed by the Olympic Games, taking place in Brazil in 2016.
Contact us: MastersofSheetMetal@trumpf.com
This article was first published in summer 2014.