Matt Mannix, Global Engineering Manager, ANCA CNC Machines

In this Meet a Member profile, ANCA’s Matt Mannix tells us about heading an engineering department spanning three countries for Australian company ANCA, which leads the world in tool grinding machine technology. 

What is your job and who is your company?

Global Engineering Manager at ANCA CNC Machines.

What’s your role and how does it fit into the business/organisation?

ANCA is a privately-owned global technology company that operates in the advanced manufacturing space. This makes engineering a key department in our business and I’m responsible for leading the Design Engineering aspect of the business. My department is broken up into four main sections, Research & Technology, New Product Development, Custom Solutions, and Current Product Engineering, spread across three countries with our main team an office based in Melbourne, Bayswater. I am lucky as I lead a really talented team and we get to work on designing cool stuff every day, for example this year we were the first company in Australia to design and manufacture our own robot for automated loading of our tool grinding machine.

What does your organisation do well? What are your capabilities? Who are your clients?

It is extraordinary if you think about it, when ANCA was first started by Pat McCluskey and Pat Boland they built a tool grinding machine from scratch, 40 years ago when all the competition was located in Germany and Switzerland or Japan. How they managed to create a technically advanced product that could compete when they were so isolated from their competition and industry developments is testament to their brilliance as engineers. Think about it, there was no internet, only a handful of customers in Australia and the flight time to travel was long and expensive – added to that our products are highly technical. We are definitely not in the business of making widgets. Today we are one of the top two tool grinding manufacturers in the world and got to this position by beating the competition to market with the next new technology. ANCA I would say has defined the development of the industry and innovation remains the lifeblood of our company.

We design, develop and manufacture CNC tool and cutter grinding machines. ANCA is vertically integrated, which means we design and manufacture most of the technology in our products rather than sourcing from a third party vendor. My team does everything from the design and development of the machine, to the control system, as well as designing the machine tool including key assemblies, such as electrical systems, spindles, and sheet metal enclosures. We have our own apprentice program to train up skilled engineers and a large machine shop in Melbourne to manufacture parts.

What does your career path look like? Are there any highlights and/or awards along the way that you’re proud of?

Other than ANCA, I’ve worked all my careers in the automotive industry; working for OEMs like GM Holden, as well as Tier 1 design responsible suppliers. Through that journey I’ve worked in the operations part of these businesses, before making the sea-change to the design side at ANCA, when creating and running and Custom Solutions department.

What’s a typical day at work look like?

A typical work day consists of a lot of meetings, but they’re predominately around getting people focused and organised and making sure our development programs are on track, as well as planning for our future.

What are some tools/techniques/tactics you use to do your job?

Planning and organisation are key elements of making a department of 130 people across three countries run smoothly, so I use a lot of time management techniques and tools, aiming for lots of collaboration and communication, and making sure that all sub-departments are on the same page. We also travel a lot, visiting global trade fairs and customers to understand what new developments there are in the market and stay ahead of the technology curve. Listening to customers’ needs has been key to our product development, and I would say that some of our best innovations have been driven by that technique. Today it is all about lights out manufacturing and that means automation, it is an exciting industry to be part of as every day there is a new development as people push to become more efficient and produce a better product.

Is there an issue in Australian manufacturing that’s not getting enough attention at the moment? Why is it important?

Skills and talent. We’re not producing enough local talent, and I think its because most kids (and their parents) are pushing their careers towards things other than manufacturing; maybe because they think it’s dying, or just simply not sexy enough. Considering education is Australia’s third-largest export ($28B), I also think that the education sector is misaligned with local needs due to the revenue it generates from international students.

What do you get out of your involvement with the Australian Manufacturing Forum?

Interesting articles on successful local manufacturing stories. Collaboration is key to finding new ways to improve. Understanding the success of other people and companies is a great way to trigger new ideas and that is why forums are key to the success of manufacturing in Australia.

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