“Concept-to-customers” approach helps ANCA level the international playing field
Australian maker of CNC machines leverages global product development environment to win business
Melbourne, Australia-based ANCA faces cut-throat Western competition, with the added burden of geographic distance from customers in the northern hemisphere.
Selling to the northern hemisphere from “down under”
ANCA was founded in 1974 to design and manufacture high technology computer numerical control (CNC) machines for the machine tool and metal-based industries. Today, the company has become a leading designer and manufacturer of complete, precision CNC tool and cutter grinding machines in a global niche market. An international organization of more than 300 employees, ANCA has offices in major cities throughout Europe, North America and Asia, with dealerships represented in more than 25 countries. Amid strong global competition, ANCA continues to manufacture in Melbourne, Australia, providing customers with the assurance that the complete process is conducted under one roof, with no compromise on quality.
ANCA sells its machines in the northern hemisphere, and competes primarily against US and European manufacturers. The battle is fierce and margins can be tight. Dave McPherson, engineering manager at ANCA, says competing on the world stage has always been a challenge for Australian machine tool manufacturers because of their geographic isolation. Their location brings the potential for delays and a shortage of qualified design engineers. For ANCA, it has been vital to reduce production engineering time to maintain and expand its markets.
Supporting a “concept-to-customers” philosophy
ANCA’s strategy for international success relies on its ability to integrate and synchronize the management of its product data and process knowledge. To facilitate this managed development environment, ANCA uses Siemens’ NX™ software for digital product development, replacing its existing 2D CAD system.
“NX gives us the obvious benefits of designing in 3D,” says McPherson. “We are able to see the machines and precisely test out fields and parameters before the units are actually built. This is an invaluable engineering asset considering we build machines specifically for customers, and about half of our machines have something special like a robot loader or special tool holder.”
Instead of its previous method of organizing CAD files manually, ANCA now uses Teamcenter® digital lifecycle management. Teamcenter creates a managed development environment for NX, capturing and controlling all the information generated by the NX product suite. Users are digitally linked to NX product data and process knowledge in the context of lifecycle processes.
“Design people can be assembled from anywhere in the world by internet link, allowing us to tap the right minds for each job,” McPherson notes. The managed development environment allows engineers to examine and modify processes at any stage of design and manufacturing to achieve a more market-ready product design. Teamcenter visualization capabilities allow for the sharing of highly detailed 3D models, within engineering and with the client. If sudden changes are submitted by the client, they can be instantly incorporated into the design without losing resources or time. Prototypes are made on-screen and they go together the first time without components being wasted in trial-and-error scenarios.
Efficient process slashes production engineering time
With its new system in place, ANCA has slashed production engineering time, enabling a faster time to market. “We have been able to radically change the way we operate, and certainly in the international market have reduced production engineering by about 50 percent,” says McPherson.
ANCA has found the implementation of Siemens’ NX and Teamcenter solutions to be a major benefit for faster turnaround of projects, especially those that involve big machines where parts fit precisely the first time. Additionally, ANCA is now able to provide customers with a detailed image of its product before it is delivered. “We can easily provide customers with a highly detailed 3D model via email to show them what they will get,” says McPherson. The drawings are so accurate they even help with installation. “Our approach of ‘concept-to-customers,’ built on Siemens solutions, is the key behind our minimization of waste and maximization of output from design concept through to delivery,” concludes McPherson. “In addition to helping compete in the international CNC machine market, it has opened the door for ANCA to make a move into other areas such as medical equipment.”