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Copersucar Sugar Terminal in the port of Santos completes 25 years with important advances

This June, TAC, the Copersucar Sugar Terminal located in the Port of Santos, completes 25 years, with many stories, transformations and achievements. Inaugurated in 1998, it was conceived as a strategic point for the company's export activities, which is a world leader in the sale of sugar and ethanol.

In that year, sugar was packaged in bags, which meant that loading a ship of approximately 14,000 tons required 280,000 bags and six days of work on average. After structuring the terminal to operate with sugar in bulk and automating the process, the same quantity began to be shipped in just 5 hours approximately, a speed 28 times greater.

In order for the Copersucar terminal to be able to handle this volume, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, many resources and innovations have been implemented over these 25 years. One of the highlights was the creation of the Continuous Improvement Integrated System (SIM), a method based on employee training and practical activities aimed at reviewing and improving processes, aligning them with the Lean Manufacturing methodology. Projects developed by employees seek to reduce waste and increase efficiency, safety and productivity. In six years, almost 1,500 improvements were implemented, 855 of which at the Santos terminal. Together, they achieved productivity gains, including a reduction in task time by 6,242 hours, a reduction in annual expenses of approximately R$ 1.5 million, savings of over 42,000 liters per month in water consumption and the subtraction of 416 security risks.

The implementation of SIM and the standardization of processes contributed to increased productivity and operational efficiency. This is the case with the truck receiving and unloading time, which has decreased by almost four times in recent years. The cycle - which considers from the truck leaving the Ecopátio in Cubatão, the arrival at the TAC and the entire process of initial weighing, sampling, unloading and final weighing - went from 16 hours in 2016 to an average of 6.8 hours in the last year.

Rodrigo da Silva Lima, Director of Logistics and Operations at Copersucar, explains that the terminal's operation is supported by the pillars of safety, sustainability, innovation and continuous improvement. “It was the sum of these values ​​that allowed the terminal to reach its current efficiency. And it fills us with pride to know that employees from each sector contribute daily to the improvement of these indices”, he adds.

Structure development

Today, the static storage capacity of the terminal reaches the mark of 300 thousand tons of sugar in bulk, with the potential to serve large vessels, over 100 thousand tons, and to ship up to 5.4 thousand tons per hour. This structure allowed the company to reach a record in the country in 2021: the largest bulk sugar shipment on a single ship, with more than 108,000 tons of the product, enough volume to fill around 2,870 trucks.

To achieve this result, it was necessary to adopt modern equipment and more efficient management processes. This was the case with the creation of the Operational Control Center (CCO) in 2016, which functions as the heart of the terminal. The professionals who work at the site today - operators, programmers and managers - seamlessly control all operational processes in real time, planning and monitoring each movement on the operating table and electronic panel, from managing the number of wagons and trucks expected to get to the unloading of the hoppers until the preparation of the conveyor belt routes for product shipment, complying with all established safety standards. “The CCO provided gains in operational speed and agility in decision-making”, emphasizes Lima.

Road and rail hoppers with high flow capacity were also built, which increased the share of rail transport. Elevators and high-performance conveyors were other equipment that made the process of receiving and disposing of the product more efficient, bringing the unloading and storage points closer together. The implementation of three shiploaders (ship loaders) capable of loading up to 5,400 tons per hour was also very important for the development of the terminal's delivery speed.


For Copersucar, all this performance is primarily based on the continuous improvement of safety levels in each job carried out inside the terminal, which is essential to ensure balance in activities. “Efficiency at the endpoint must start in a reliable environment. It is in this context that we constantly look at security issues, which are evolving annually with the implementation of various projects”, comments Lima.

This was the case with the Safe Operation project, launched in 2016, which sought to raise awareness of this culture at the terminal, reinforcing with employees the importance of fully following procedures and maintaining constant communication with their leaders and colleagues in the operation. In the 365 days of the last harvest (22/23), the terminal team held 10,126 daily safety dialogues, conversations provoked by the employees themselves before the start of the workday to reinforce some point of attention or improvement.

Since the beginning of this project, programs have been created to develop the pillars of safety and the environment. This is the case of the Operational Risk Management meeting (GRO), which has the participation of terminal leaders, assessing and defining actions to mitigate risk conditions, and the Leader in Safety program, which for two years has been a strong ally in promoting safe behavior with all employees at the terminals. Other outstanding initiatives were the Workshops with the exchange of ideas and the presentation of results and proposed challenges to all participants with safety actions that will be applied. The implementation of the Golden Rules and Green Rules underwent changes, becoming Habits that Preserve Life with the purpose of making the Health, Safety and Environment Policy a more mature tool that encourages the positive feeling of doing safety.


The Integrated Continuous Improvement System also contributed to improving the terminal's sustainability. Among the various actions that have been achieving positive results in this sphere, the work of environmental management for the correct disposal of waste and the reduction of the use of sanitary landfills stands out. Through projects that focus on the circular economy and energy recovery, the company increased recycling, reuse and composting of waste generated by operations in the last four harvests by 45%, with the volume of material sent to landfills falling by 84%. This is the case with the recycling of sweeping material to produce alcohol for cleaning and the annual savings of 800,000 liters of water from the implementation of rainwater capture systems on the terminal's roofs.

Developing people

This performance at the Copersucar Sugar Terminal is mainly due to the people who are essential to the operation. Among them is Manoel de Jesus Nascimento (60), who started working at the TAC on the day of its inauguration, in June 1998, acting as Unloading Officer for Ensaced Products. He has seen firsthand all the changes that have taken place over time, he graduated in Logistics and is a technician in Industrial Chemistry, with two postgraduate degrees, and today he works as an operations supervisor.

Another example of a career within the terminal is Luciano Bragança (46). He started working at the site as an operations assistant at just 21 years old and also followed the evolution of processes, contributing, among other things, to the implementation of the TAC safety standard and the launch of the Safe Operation project. “Safety is our highest priority”, proudly comments the employee who has followed a successful path in the company. After starting as an assistant, he was promoted to boarding supervisor, Operations and CCO supervisor and is now responsible for coordinating the entire TAC operation.


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