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During IMTEX 2023, I had the chance to speak with Santosh Plakkat regarding ANCA Machines' latest innovations, technology trends in the global grinding industry, demand in the Indian cutting tool market, and ANCA's strategy for the Indian market.
What are the latest technologies from ANCA?
As a leading machine tool manufacturer, ANCA is always innovating – in fact, we like to say that it’s part of our DNA!
One of our revolutionary technologies is the MX7 Ultra, which offers nanometer-resolution feedback on all axes, making it the first tool and cutter grinder to offer this feature. As the Maserati of machine tool manufacturing, this premium solution is ideal for manufacturers who need high-performance cutting tools.
ANCA's FX5E has been very well-received in India. Recently, we made changes to the machine to make it even more affordable for customers while ensuring that it has the same level of quality expected from an ANCA machine. The FX5E is ideal for those looking to enter the cutting tool manufacturing industry. We are proud to see operators become entrepreneurs with the help of the FX5E machine.
The CPX is another popular grinder in India. This blank prep machine can achieve a surface finish better than 0.2Ra with run out of less than 2 microns, providing customers with a 20% to 30% better cycle time than competitors.
ANCA also offers software packages, such as our user-friendly ToolRoom, designed for the aerospace, die mould, general machining, and power generation industries. The upcoming release will have a feed rate optimisation feature that will automate the process, making it easier for operators to use – so keep an eye out for that!
We were the first to introduce true 3D simulation technology for CNC tools and cutter grinding, and more than 20 years later our CIM3D software is still a favourite with customers. It allows users to view the grinding process and resulting model and includes features such as collision detection and process improvement to provide customers with advanced tool simulation quality and increased efficiency.
You have been serving the Indian cutting tool industry for a long time. How do you see the evolution of the industry in India?
ANCA is delighted to see the strong growth of the Indian market, and we are proud to have played a part in this development. Previously, the focus of discussions was more on cost as the Indian market is highly cost-sensitive. However, we have seen a significant shift in recent years, with Indian cutting tool manufacturers seeking more complex geometries and greater accuracy while minimizing their investment. We have also been challenged to improve productivity as customers expect a return on their investment.
Indian customers are becoming more interested in technology that improves productivity and efficiency. We understand the importance of providing solutions that meet these demands and are committed to continuously improving our products to meet the evolving needs of the Indian market.
And these kinds of demands come from the smaller player as well?
From everybody, otherwise, they can’t compete. Irrespective of the size of the company, I feel, Indian companies are looking for high-end solutions.
As a global company, ANCA has customers from various regions, including developed markets like Europe, the USA, and Japan, as well as developing markets like India. Are there differences in the demands and expectations of customers from these regions?
India is on par. I feel that the demand and expectations of Indian customers are quite similar to those of developed markets, as they are also serving global players and exporting their products. Therefore, they must meet global quality standards to remain competitive.
In India, many customers start with the entry-level machine but gradually move towards highly sophisticated machines as they grow their business. This shows that there is a demand for all kinds of machines in India. One advantage of working with Indian customers is that they are very knowledgeable and specific about their requirements. They know what they want and where they want to reach, which helps us to work on solutions that are tailored to their needs.
ANCA is committed to providing the best solutions to our customers in India and around the world, regardless of their level of expertise or experience. We strive to understand their specific requirements and provide them with machines and software that meet their needs and help them achieve their business objectives.
So you have explained the latest development from ANCA and your experience dealing with Indian customers. But overall in the grinding technology industry, what kind of new development we might see in the future where the industry is heading in terms of technology?
As I mentioned earlier, productivity is the main focus of the industry, which means highly automated machines that can start the cycle and complete the batch without constant supervision. There are two key challenges for grinding machines: temperature variations and wheel wear. In the future, we can expect to see further developments to address these issues.
At ANCA, we have conducted extensive research to equip our machines with technologies that can handle energy usage, making it easier for our customers to operate them. Additionally, high-performance nanometer resolution is a growing trend that we expect to see in all machines in the future. ANCA machines have now achieved 1-nanometer resolution – this is a significant improvement compared to our competitors. With this technology, we can observe machine behaviour in terms of position feedback and velocity feedback, allowing us to enhance the accuracy and stiffness of the machine. This results in high-performance cutting tools, that have not only superior surface finish but also fine cutting-edge roughness.
Overall, nanometer resolution is expected to play a huge role in the future of grinding technology.
What trends do you see in the cutting tool industry?
The cutting tool industry is seeing some interesting trends across different sectors such as automobile, aerospace, woodworking, medical, die mould, and many others. One noticeable trend is the gradual shift towards different cutting tool materials, particularly in aerospace, medical, and woodworking. While carbide is still popular, we are seeing PCD, PCDN, ceramics, and other materials slowly emerging into mainstream manufacturing.
Customer demands are driving the shift towards these new materials, and cutting tool manufacturers are responding with tools tailored to specific industries. The demand for industry-specific tools is increasing, as different industries have different requirements in terms of material and geometry. For instance, the needs for the medical industry may be quite different from those of general engineering or automotive. In India, we are seeing a growing demand for PCD-made cutting tools, driven by the expanding electronics, medical, mobile, and solar component industries.
What are your opinions on the Indian manufacturing and machine tool industry?
I believe that there is a strong sense of optimism among local manufacturers, and many people feel that this decade belongs to India. This sentiment is shared across various sectors, whether it's die mould making or machine manufacturing, companies are eager to invest in India. At the IMTEX exhibition, I met numerous individuals who have concrete plans to invest in grinding machines. They have significant orders for the next six to twelve months and are unable to take any more orders. This growth in Indian manufacturing is expected to have a positive impact on machine tools and cutting tool makers.
Is there any plan to start manufacturing in India in the future?
We consider India to be a significant market and we will continue to increase our commitment to the country. While it's too early to comment on specific plans, we have seen rapid growth since we started in India and we anticipate that trend to continue. Additionally, we have a team of software engineers who work closely with the ANCA headquarters in Australia. So, I definitely see India contributing to ANCA’s growth in the coming days.
About Santosh Plakkat
With 25 years of experience in the grinding industry, Santosh Plakkat is an expert in multiple facets of grinding, with hands-on knowledge in cutting tools and cylindrical grinding. Santosh joined ANCA in 2008 and has worked in numerous roles across Grinding Applications and New Product Development before moving into Product Management. He has worked with customers and industry partners from different regions to provide solutions in manufacturing cutting tools. His involvement in product development has given him a strong appetite for market feedback and improvement through testing of ANCA’s products, software and solutions.
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