French group Thales to expand LatAm industrial services unit

Bnamericas Published: Monday, July 11, 2022
French group Thales to expand LatAm industrial services unit

Multinational French technology group Thales is looking to expand internet-of-things (IoT) investments, focused on smart grids and smart meters, cybersecurity, and industrial digital services for industries in Latin America.

The goal is to leverage Brazilian subsidiary Omnisys, provider of solutions for the defense and aeronautics segments.

“In recent years, Thales has identified it needed to increase its focus on four pillars. The first two are connectivity, that is, IoT, and data security. With the increase in connectivity and data security demands come the third pillar, big data; and finally there is the need to learn from all that data, which leads us to artificial intelligence,” Thales general director for Brazil, Luciano Macaferri, told BNamericas.

The idea is to have a multi-business strategy beyond radars for civil and military use, a flagship business line since Omnisys was founded in 1997.

The Brazilian company was acquired by Thales in 2006.

Its diversification strategy was helped by synergies from the 2019 acquisition of Dutch digital ID, card and biometry solutions company Gemalto, whose modules power several POS machines, he said.

“We are committed to positioning Omnisys as a Thales electronic house in the world. Brazil has been a cradle of opportunities for the diversification of our business. In more than two decades, we have built a very successful history together, with worldwide recognition as a center of competence,” Macaferri said.

In partnership with Thales' IoT teams, Omnisys is developing smart grids and asset monitoring solutions. “We started doing a lot in IoT. We sell CAT-M or narrowband IoT modules to the market.”

The focus is on connectivity modules, as the group manufactures the devices.

Thales/Omnisys targets opportunities around public lighting, water leakage control and has registered demand for IoT modules attached to car batteries to inform drivers about device status, said Macaferri. 

Mining, agribusiness and logistics are also on the radar.

The company has 15-20 IoT projects in development with companies in Brazil alone, according to Macaferri. One client is V2Comm, the IoT unit of Brazil’s industrial equipment multinational Weg.

Thales recently invested 15mn reais (US$2.85mn) to expand its Omnisys plant in São Bernardo do Campo, São Paulo state, one of its three Brazilian factories. 

The company’s Avionics Services Center also started to operate at that plant, offering repair services, flight control and electrical systems for civil and military aircraft throughout Latin America.

Omnisys has tripled in size in the last five years. Hard figures, including investments, however, were not provided.

According to Macaferri, Brazil represents more than 50% of Omnisys' revenue in Latin America.

The company was one of the main suppliers of the terminated Brazilian space program CBERS and is present in the main federal government defense programs, with 42 products and services certified as strategic defense products by the government.

The company also provides aircraft, radars and in-flight entertainment systems. It owns 130 air traffic control radars in Brazil, which according to Henriques represent around 75% of the national market.

Globally, Thales group has 80,000 employees and operations in 70 countries. Of these, 1,200 are in Brazil, distributed across three factories and four offices, according to Macaferri.

Thales is also controlling shareholder in the Thales Alenia SpaceJV with Italian group Leonardo, which is focused on satellite manufacturing. And it is a minority shareholder in satellite connectivity solutions provider Telespazio, also in partnership with Leonardo.

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