The Americana project: a blueprint for future industrial sites
Expanding residential areas surrounding Umicore’s manufacturing site in Guarulhos (Brazil) prompted the relocation of operations to Americana, 180 kilometers north. There, more than 300 team members turned the 250,000m² surface area into a futureproof industrial site, all during a global pandemic. Discover why our site in Americana stands out.
The Umicore site in Americana is the new home for growing business units in South America like Precious Metals Refining, Precious Metals Chemistry and the Platinum Engineered Materials activities of Jewelry and Industrial Metals. Carsten Gerleman, Senior Vice President of Umicore South America and Celso Mantovani, HR Director for the region, look back at a successful yet demanding project.
“Our previous site, in Guarulhos, was constructed over a period of 60 years,” says Carsten Gerleman. “There was no defined plan on how to organize the site, it grew along the way. Environmental concerns back then were basically non-existent. Throughout the years, the site became very dense, with less and less possibilities to expand since the area became more and more residential. That also posed security challenges. It was time to relocate and start fresh, with a site that’s adapted to the needs of our company and to the growing environmental concerns.”
Reducing the ecological impact
During the construction of the new site, Umicore put a strong focus on reducing its ecological footprint. “An electrical substation is providing the electricity for the whole area. We specifically wanted green energy for Americana: we’re using primarily wind energy and hydropower,” Carstencontinues.
He also stresses the importance of these choices. “It’s our responsibility as a company to use our resources and energy responsibly. We also put LED lighting everywhere in our industrial site. In addition, we turn the heavy rainfalls in this area to our advantage: big reservoirs help us capture water. We use this rainwater to irrigate the gardens on our site, and for sanitary purposes, such as flushing toilets. The system also helps to regulate the water level in the nearby river.”
“The new site allows us to meet our environmental goals, from green energy to rainwater re-use.”
– Carsten Gerleman SVP South America
“Ecological thinking is at the base of everything we did at Americana: from responsible water usage to using solar energy to heat the water that’s used for our showers.”
Americana is all about creating a healthy work environment for the workers at the site. “There’s a care center and infirmary with full medical facilities that provides check-ups for the whole staff,” Carsten continues. “We have break rooms where people can get a rest. We’re doing everything we can to improve comfort levels on the site: that’s why we also built a game room, a nice restaurant and sport facilities. Umicore really wants to promote a healthy lifestyle.”
“The employee-centric focus of Umicore is in plain sight at Americana.”
– Celso Mantovani, HR Director
“Americana is definitely more suitable as an industrial site than Guarulhos”, says Celso Mantovani. “We have way more space now, that we can fill with modern installations. It’s surrounded by green areas. And the lay-out of the place stimulates dialogue between people: we have open offices and common areas where people from different departments can meet and share ideas. Compared to Guarulhos, the setup is much friendlier and in favor of contact between people”.
Get a closer look at the site
Health and safety is not just a focal point today. During construction, all possible measures were taken to guarantee a safe space in the midst of a pandemic. Thanks to these measures, the construction site was able to remain operational.
“We implemented very strong sanitary rules,” Carsten continues. “Use of mask, temperature controls, an on-site infirmary, and strong communications with workers helped to get this project done in a reasonable timeframe. Of course, we always kept a minimum number of people working on the site: those who could work from home, did so.”
“Thanks to strict measures, the site was able to continue construction during the pandemic.” -Carsten Gerleman
Covid also presented other challenges, mostly in terms of logistics and supplies. “Like many companies, we suffered from supply shortages. Thanks to the flexibility and the efficiency of our purchasing and transport departments, we were able to provide the right products in time to our factories. Keeping the construction going was a very complicated situation, but we managed to get it done.”