This year, the Johannesburg branch of Japanese metal working machinery manufacturer Amada Company Ltd. celebrates its 30th anniversary since establishing a fully-fledged branch in South Africa. The manufacturer entered the South African industry in 1984 and offers the full range of machinery, from horizontal and vertical bandsaws, to corner notchers, press brakes (up and down stroking), mechanical and hydraulic shears, turret punch presses, sheet metal and heavy duty CNC CO2 laser and fiber laser cutters, stamping and blanking presses as well as a full range of blades, tooling, spares, software and services for all machinery. Prior to 1984, Amada had been operating on an agency agreement basis.
From an original compliment of five staff, Amada Johannesburg now employs 28 staff and occupies its own 1 350 m² building in Meadowdale, Johannesburg.
Ken Sano, who was responsible for opening the branch and is still fondly remembered by many Amada clients, recalls how Amada set up offices, a showroom and service facilities in rented premises in Elsburg, Germiston. He then organised an in house exhibition that was held on the Friday through to Sunday. It was a rude awakening for him to South African industry as no visitors attended on the Saturday and Sunday.
Current Amada Johannesburg MD Rick Ferreira with Amada Co.Ltd. Japan President and CEO Mitsuo Okamato
Sano’s next experience was equally challenging to his Japanese culture. Prior to the branch opening, there were a few sales of machines, but not enough in Sano’s opinion. This was one of the primary reasons for Amada to enter South Africa. Sales of Amada equipment soon started to increase. However, one new client decided he was not paying for his machine and only when Amada removed the PC board from the NC control, which rendered the machine useless, did the client make payment. Sano remains very good friends with this client but as he says it is ‘give and take’ in business.
Sano, who is still employed with Amada in Japan, left South Africa in 1988 after handing over the reigns to Erich Bauer, who had been with the company from the outset.
Bauer ran Amada Johannesburg until the end of 1997 before immigrating to Sydney, Australia. For a brief period, Brett Sharp ran the company before current MD Rick Ferreira – who had joined Amada in 1988 as a service engineer and was formally qualified in machining and fitting and had completed his NTC 6 Mechanical Engineering at Johannesburg Technical College – was installed in June 1998. Ferreira would later complete a MBA in 2002.
The company opened up a branch in Cape Town in 1999, which is run by Gordon van Rensburg, and one in Durban, KwaZulu Natal in 2001, which is run by Riaan Kirstein, and moved to its current facility in Meadowdale in 2002.
Sales Manager Barry Page has been with the company for over 10 years
The company also services the Southern African region with installations in Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Swaziland and Mauritius
“Over 1 500 Amada machines are now in operation in South Africa with many of them being sold to clients that already have Amada equipment. We are proud to say that once our clients have experienced the state-of-the-art technology that Amada sheetmetal and bandsawing equipment has gained a reputation for, they are clients for life. One client, for example, has 25 different Amada machines on his shopfloor. Most clients are in the SME category but we have also supplied machines to bigger clients such as Transnet Engineering and Alstom for example,” enthused Rick Ferreira.
“There have been many milestones in the company over the 30 years. We sold our first CO2 laser cutting machine in 1996, a 1.5 kilowatt LC 1212A, not long after CO2 laser cutting machines made their debut on the metal fabricating scene in South Africa. Laser cutting machines have emerged since then and the technology has advanced so much that they are now regarded as extremely precise and extremely quick cutting machines. The response time is now measured in G-forces. Some machines are up to 3G or 4G in acceleration and deceleration.”
“Fiber laser cutting machines have now found their way into the industry and they present exciting opportunities. Amada is the only machine tool manufacturer that produces its own fiber power source at this point, which is utilised on its own laser cutting machines. This places the company at an advantageous position in terms of furthering developments to current and future planned models. The Amada Group, which comprises more than 150 companies in Japan and overseas, manufactures products that incorporate the latest technology, many of them as firsts on the world market, meet global standards and enjoy an excellent reputation.”
The management team also consists of James Mollentze – Punching and Bandsawing Service, Jens Hartig – Laser Service, and Hein Van Der Neut – Bending and Automation Service, who have all been with the company over 10 years
“Technological advances in the sheet metal work industry in the late twentieth century revolutionised the efficiency and precision with which sheet metal products were fabricated. These advances centered in large part on improving tools, dies, and other equipment, relying more extensively on automated machinery and embracing the benefits of the computer, new software, and the internet. The need to cut costs and increase equipment durability with quicker manufacturing and shorter lead times while not losing quality is a demand, rather than a request, from clients.
“We have always been cognisant of this and have encouraged our clients to join us on our yearly technical visits that we make to the headquarters in Isehara, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, and experience first hand the Amada Solution Center and the Amada Machine Tool Plaza, where the latest equipment available from Amada is on display, all powered up to give live demonstrations. They never forget the experience and on their return easily incorporate the latest innovations into their businesses.”
“As we celebrate our 30th anniversary we would like to thank all our clients for their loyalty and support over the years in helping us reach this significant milestone. Going forward we will continue to grow together with our clients as we build towards the future.
For further details contact Amada on TEL: 011 453 5459