When it rains in Brazil...

You get wet. But it was a warm rain, and it let up enough for us to visit the huge sugar mill of Sta. Eliza, the third largest in Brazil. In the morning, I was treated to a history and product guide to Smar. Did you know that Smar makes more things than pressure and temperature transmitters and fieldbus gateways and silicon? Did you know that Smar makes PLCs...one of the very few PLCs that has integral Foundation Fieldbus HSE? Did you know that Smar makes Fieldbus valve positioners? Did you know that Smar does complete control systems, and wrote their own Asset Management software package? Well, unless you are lying, you probably didn't know that...and I certainly didn't. Smar is about $70-80 million in revenues, with between $15-20 million from the USA (divided between Smar International and Smar Research). After the briefing, I was asked to meet with the Board of Directors. They consist of the company president, Antonio Zamproni, and the other owners, Carlos Liboni (a name quite familiar to many ISA members), Edmondo Rocha Gorini, Edson Saverio Benelli, Gilmar de Matos Caldeira, Paulo Saturnino Lorenzato, and the "S" in Smar, Mauro Sponchiado. You will notice that nearly all of them have Italian names. That's because the largest wave of immigration into Brazil came from Italy in the last years of the 19th century. We discussed the differences between Brazil's market and the North American market, talked about Smar's brand and its image, and discussed their plans for expanded recognition in North America. We also discussed CONTROL's AutomationXchange event, and I invited them to participate. I believe they will. The fact that, although my Portuguese is rudimentary, I speak Spanish and Italian (!) made it easier for me to understand the Board, and for them to understand me on occasion. Then another churrascaria for lunch, and another excellent meal. Liboni and I talked ISA business, since we are old friends. And then out to the sugar mill. The mill is completely integrated. They bring in the cane and crush it. Then they take the cane and burn it in the boilers and make steam to run the sugar refinery, and the rest of the steam is used to run the 60 MW steam turbines that power the plant, and furnish power back to the grid. The bagasse (the ground up cane) is stored, sold to other sugar mills, and some of it is mixed with red clay from the clarifiers, made into cake, and used to re-fertilize the cane fields. The mill makes sugar from about 50% of the cane liquor, and the other 50% is used to make "alcool" or ethanol. They produce hydrous ethanol for vehicle fuel, anhydrous ethanol, and "super high test" ethanol for drug companies. They get the best yield from their advanced molecular sieve process. They make lots of different sugars...raw sugar, white sugar, molasses, and liquid sugar. The only part of the plant I was not allowed to enter was the liquid sugar plant, because it is top secret since it produces the liquid sugar for Coca-Cola of Brazil. In Brazil, as well as Mexico, Coca-Cola is still made with cane sugar, and tastes like "the real thing," while in the United States, Coke is made from corn sweetener and tastes like it. The control room and all the control systems are among the most modern in the world, and the newest part of the plant, as I said, is all Foundation Fieldbus HSE. There are well over 200 Smar Fieldbus transmitters in Santa Eliza. Back now at one of the Smar buildings in Sertaozhinho (there should be a tilde on the a there, but I can't figure out how to do it on this web interface. We're going to talk marketing for a while, and then we'll find more dinner. Tomorrow, the plant tour! Comments? --Walt Boyes