ANCA Group, the global leader in tool and cutter grinders and the latest new member of the Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council, may just be the greatest industry success you’ve never heard of.
“Not a lot of people know a lot about ANCA in Australia. We are one of those quiet achievers,” ANCA Chief Executive Grant Anderson says.
“We have been riding the wave of the smart device market in particular, with both Apple and Samsung using aluminium-backed smart devices, and there has been a lot of capacity necessary for the cutting tool market to support the production of those products.”
First launched in 1974 by two engineers, Melbourne-based ANCA has developed a track record of ground breaking industry firsts ever since. The Australian-owned firm proudly designs and manufactures its own machines, control systems and software. It exports 99.5 per cent of its product.
ANCA dominates the high precision machine tool sector and is a global market leader, holding one of the top positions compared to its competitors. ANCA Motion, a division of The ANCA Group, has a growing presence in the automation solutions sector. ANCA Motion designs and develops industrial CNCs, servo drives, incorporating mechanical, electrical and software engineering in Australia whilst its manufacturing operation is located in Taiwan.
“ANCA machines make cutting tools that are used on almost everything that consumers use or touch every day. So whether it’s your iPhone, or your Samsung Galaxy, your guitar, your motor vehicle or the aircraft you fly on around the world, our machines were used in the manufacturing of all of those products,” he says.
ANCA had another record year in 2015, tripling its turnover in the last six years. The key industries its sells into are tool manufacturing, aerospace, automotive, medical and electronics.
Growing consumer demand has been driving a large upswing in the need for ANCA’s machines.
“You think of your iPhone, you will generally get a new one every three years and airline travel has become a lot more affordable which has seen massive growth in the aircraft industry. Furthermore, cars are much cheaper than they have been – and these trends have been fuelling growth” Mr Anderson says.
ANCA is not a quantity manufacturer, but a self-confessed niche manufacturer, and Mr Anderson says Australia’s leaders could do more to foster this type of success, with more help on the form of early funding, collaboration and tax incentives needed.
“That is where our speciality is and I think there is a lack of focus in Australia to support and adopt those technologies. More needs to be done to support the industry in this regard. I have more opportunities on my plate right now then I can deal with and some support from government would certainly help us to bring a lot of those opportunities to the marketplace.”
Federal Minister of Industry, Innovation and Science visited ANCA’s Detroit facility in October, observing that ANCA remains committed to its high-end production and main Research and Development team in Melbourne.
“When you are talking about the high impact, high technology and items that are used in our machines, we produce those in Australia because they are critical to the outcomes of the machines.”
“We assemble machines in Thailand and assemble electronics in Taiwan. But all of our high technology components and our top-end machines are manufactured in Australia.”
ANCA’s workforce numbers more than 900 people globally, with 188 engineers in areas such as software, electrical and electronics, and mechanical.
Robotics is another large area of interest for ANCA, which sees opportunity to be one of the leaders in this field for the machine market. It is a technology that Mr Anderson believes ANCA could excel in and be globally competitive if the time and resources are taken to cultivate skills in robotics.
ANCA has just released a first suite of Internet products in software, a machine maintenance, advice and information system which will be sold worldwide and is offered as a product to ANCA customers.
The firm supplies directly to Boeing, and to FoxConn which manufactures Apple’s products.
These big firms choose ANCA because its position at the leading edge of technology makes it easier for customers to produce a tool at higher quality, at a faster cycle time. ANCA also designs bespoke machines for customer applications that its competitors are mostly unable to because they belong to a large outsourced manufacturer which is not as flexible.
“We are very unique. We see that that is our strength,” Mr Anderson says, adding that price is not the crucial determinant in this field.
“The price point of the machine is not as sensitive as it is to satisfy the customer needs of quality and reliability. Because if they can calculate and see that they can be more productive buying an ANCA machine than another brand, then that’s when we can win out,” he explains.
Above image: The Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, visits The ANCA Group headquarters in Wixom, Michigan, USA. The Minister is pictured with (from left) Mr Russell Riddiford, President, ANCA Inc, Mr Mike Lawson, Deputy Secretary, Department of Industry, Innovation and Science and Mr Michael Wood, Consul-General, Australian Consulate-General Chicago.