Jeff Foregard, President – Asian Region, ANCA

Please tell us about the recent developments and new product launches at ANCA?
We recently launched LinX linear motor technology. Latest tests of our machines using LinX cylindrical linear motor produced a surface finish roughness average as low as 0.16 Ra. Our customers have been impressed with how the cylindrical linear motor ensures smooth axis movement when grinding that achieves a markedly better finish on cutting tools.

Earlier this year we launched our Spindle Speed Increaser to market. Customers can now easily grind small Polycrystalline Diamond insert pockets in one simple process. It is available as an accessory to the MX, TX7 or TXcell machines and can spin wheels at speeds up to 42,000 revolutions per minute (RPM), catering for very small diameter grinding wheels.

We are also in the process of launching our new Management Suite product, which is set to be a game changer for the CNC grinding industry, enabling customers the capability to monitor the operational performance of their machines no matter where they are in the world. It will be able to provide live production data to make informed operational improvements.

Our new RoboTeach solution is also exciting our customers as it enables greater efficiency and accuracy when setting up robot automation on their CNC grinding machines. By automating the teaching of the RoboMate Fanuc 200iD robot, it significantly decreases downtime achieving greater productivity and reduces the need for specialised operator skills.

Also read: ANCA’s LinX cylindrical linear motor ensures rigidity to deliver a superior finish

What are the recent trends in CNC grinding and manufacturing industry?
We have seen that since 2014 the number of customers ordering CNC Grinding Machines with robot loaders has increased from 10% to 50% of all machines sold. Robotics now have greater capabilities and more flexible applications in the grinding process. With increased capability, simple automated loading applications have been followed by wheelpack changes and other possibilities.

Another development is that the milling machines and machining centres have very rigid spindles which can run and operate at higher RPMs and faster feed rates. To accommodate this we had to start manufacturing cutting tools to higher and higher accuracies and surface finish.

ANCA has had great success with integrating high accuracy tool measurement using laser metrology in cycle. This technology allows setup times to be greatly reduced and the effects of wheel wear and thermal deformation to be measured and compensated during long unmanned production cycles.

Now the current buzz word in the industry is industrie 4.0 and IIoT, what’s ANCA’s take on such growing trends?The future for the industry is the smart factory or industry 4.0, it is about data collection and analytics and most of the industry is already developing solutions on how to harness this information.

The potential benefits gained by understanding and analysing production trends such as robotics, networked machines and analytics are significant. This is something I am seeing is a priority for our customers as they look at how they can achieve greater efficiencies and improve the quality of their products.

How can your technologies impact customer’s business and productivity?
Manufacturers are interested in productivity through time spent on set up and documentation to unmanned operations and programing. As I mentioned before we developed a management suite for machine monitoring and data collection which allows customers to manage their grinding files, wheel files and production schedule simultaneously.

The use of RFIDs has enabled unmanned operations of tool manufacturing or resharpening. It also helps off line programming as the grinding files can be freely shared between multiple machines and tools can be placed randomly since the RFID chip in the pocket has the correct grinding files associated with the tool.

Sophisticated regrinders are using this technology combined with collet changers and wheel changers to permit unmanned nightshift grinding of a random sequence of cutting tools. This type of capacity used to be a nightmare to try and create, but is now a realistic goal.

With all these advances in technology it is important for customers to remember that investment in their capabilities could deliver much more than they realise. From the software to the machine capability, staying on top of new technology trends helps companies get a competitive edge. This doesn’t mean going out and buying entire new machines each month, many CNC grinding businesses will offer trade in deals for old machines or retrofitting with new capabilities to rebirth a grinder.

In India the general mind set is that Germans and Japanese are the best in technology, however ANCA has made a good presence in India. How do you deal with such perception in India?
We operate in a global world and many of our competitors are multinational, the same as ANCA. It doesn’t matter what geography a machine originates from, it matters about the capabilities and technology available in the product.

ANCA has a good presence in India because we make a high quality product and have local service people available to assist our customers. It is our quality and service that we are judged on.

Furthermore, ANCA is well known for being the leader in new technology development. Our customers invest in our product because they know they will be accessing the latest innovations in tool and cutter grinding so that they can be more successful in their marketplace.

India is home to all global CNC giants; how do you compete in such a competitive market?
Again, it comes down to having a quality product and good support. We work closely with our customers to understand their needs and make sure we are meeting them. In actual fact, some of our best innovations have come from our work to solve a customer’s problem with a bespoke solution.

At ANCA we are proud to say there is no problem to tough that we can’t find a solution.

What kind of demand you see in India compare to western or more developed world?
Our prospects in the Indian market looks to be good and this has been proven by our success to date. The growth in the automotive sector along with the global alliances of Indian companies with some of our International customers has had a positive impact on our business.

As growth in other markets are returning to normal levels, I see India continuing to expand in this arena and could potentially be the next major market for ANCA in years to come.

It is for this reason we decided to expand our operations in Bangalore to ensure we are capable of meeting increasing demand. The larger facility along with substantial investment in a software R&D team based in Bangalore allows us the ability to respond to our customers needs immediately.

As per the report, grinding machinery market to grow by 3.78% CAGR between 2017-2022. How are you planning to tap the growing market?
The industry we are in is cyclical. Fortunately, all machine tool builders have enjoyed tremendous growth over the last four to five years on the back of the huge demand of smart phones.

This has been a major driving factor in machine tool growth but we are also targeting other segments such as automotive, woodworking, aerospace and medical to name a few. This ensures we continue to develop products that are highly flexible to meet the needs of different markets so that when one segment is booming we can tap into that opportunity.

What are the future prospects for CNC machine manufacturers like ANCA?
Our prospects are very positive. I am personally very excited to be in this industry as we experience the move towards more automation and the possibilities that Industry 4.0 brings.

When a CNC control was added to a manual grinding machine, it totally changed the market. I see robotics as a similar game changer and we are actively developing our own robotic solution for our customers.

Within CNC grinding and elsewhere in manufacturing, expanded capabilities within robotics and increasingly user-friendly automation solutions are combining to make the future an exciting one.

Your future plans for India…
Every day we strive to be an agile world class leader in supplying innovative technology. Every day we invest in our design to ensure we are known for being a manufacturer of high quality and innovative products and solutions for our Indian customers.

Today, the volumes are satisfactory, however, the future looks promising and I am anticipating tremendous growth in our segment in India over the next five years.

By Nishant Kashyap