Feb 16, 2017

Australia - In November 2016, Melbourne, Australia-based tool and cutter grinder manufacturer Anca was inducted into the Australian Export Awards Hall of Fame, joining the ‘best of the best’ exporting enterprises in Australia. ETMM caught up with company co-founder Pat Boland.

Pat, what does it take to receive such a prestigious award? There are not too many machine tool builders in Australia who are world-leaders in their field.

Pat Boland: Anca has always invested in two areas of our business; one is R&D, the other is marketing and our sales budget. Our initial idea many years ago was to sell through distributors, but when we came to the decision of having our own company it was crucial that we have our own people to sell. Selling CNC tool grinders requires technical expertise and professional customer support; hence the relationship between the customer and us is absolutely crucial. It is not easy but the payout is there.

How is Anca faring in terms of sales?

Boland: We go up and down, we experienced an extraordinary period of growth last year, this year we do not expect any growth. We are reaching a level where there is market saturation. But over the last 30 years we have grown on an average by 17% annually, which is great.

Global focus

You are exporting 99% of your machines; do you aim to continue manufacturing in Australia?

Boland: Yes, we are continuing to invest in our plant in Melbourne. It’s working quite well for us; you want to have some manufacturing units close to your headquarters. But we have three global manufacturing sites. The one in Melbourne is dedicated for high-tech production where we manufacture our machines; Thailand for more labour-intensive manufacturing and the one in Taiwan is responsible for all the electronics.

Is it this highly global focus which is helping you to remain competitive, and do you plan to open any other international manufacturing sites?

Boland: No, but we are expanding our operations in the US and China, we are upgrading our facilities by 50% at two of our sites, and in Germany and the US we are investing in engineering and project management, that’s where the bigger bang for your efforts comes from.

Are there any markets experiencing particular growth at the moment? How is Europe performing?

Boland: There are two markets that are standing out for us. The US has been very strong for the past couple of years followed by China and then Korea. China has gone through a slowdown period but the market is picking up again. Europe is going fine, the UK is performing well and Germany is going along solidly.

Which are the emerging future markets for your products?

Boland: Indonesia experiences strong growth in manufacturing due to investments from Japanese companies. The same is true for Vietnam, where Korean and Japanese companies continue to invest and are setting up their factories.

What are the next technological highlights we can expect to be exhibited at upcoming trade shows such as EMO 2017 in Hanover, Germany?

Boland: What has been gaining a lot of acceptance over the past couple of years is our linear motor machine development. It is a very successful range of custom-designed linear motor based machines, and we are continuing to invest in that technology. In-machine measurement has been a great success for our customers, laser measurement of cutting tools inside the machine, thermal compensation, etc. We will also introduce some new technologies at the show, including developments in spindle temperature control which can lead to higher part accuracy for our customers.

Barbara Schulz

Editor-in-Chief

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