Local manufacturer offering customer centric design and Japanese quality

With the current structural changes in Australia’s economy, SMC Pneumatics ANZ’s Sales Director, James McKew discusses SMC’s strategy for success. At the helm of a robust, dynamic sales force, McKew leads his team through his personal mantras of ‘shooting straight and leaving things in a far better state than how you find them’.

Worldwide leading experts in pneumatics, SMC Pneumatics is a Tokyo Stock Exchange listed company established in 1959 by two friends who believed in customizing products around people. Today the company has grown to a footprint of 84 countries and more than 17 000 employees.

SMC Pneumatics is no stranger in the ANZ region holding the largest market share in this region with a combined turnover of AUD 80 million between the local regions. As the first subsidiary outside of Japan, ANZ has been a successful blue print for other subsidiaries.

SMC ANZ Sales Director, James McKew believes that SMC’s global differentiator is low cost, high quality and rapid delivery.

SMC handles all manufacturing requirements in-house to ensure that international standards as well as SMC’s stringent internal standards are met and McKew comments that no customer will ever receive a product that is not manufactured by SMC itself. With an international network of over 5000 sales personnel, SMC is able to share and reapply new technology and solutions to complex problems. The sheer size of the operation and the number of customers they get into contact with ensures that they are constantly at the forefront of innovation. This type of innovation has made SMC the Innovation Leader on the Forbes international awards list for three years.

The company subscribes to a vertically integrated system which ensures reduced supply chain costs. The customer not only gets high technology design from a global leader but also has the benefit of getting the product directly via the global supply chain from raw material to full product. This means the low cost and high quality can be guaranteed.

“Locally, SMC employs a total staff complement of 331 people which includes 88 sales people, the largest force in the ANZ pneumatics market. A further 24 inside sales people are dedicated to providing rapid response, total customer service and 20 design engineers are responsible for looking after special application design needs,”
“The head office in Sydney boasts 80 000m2 of space which includes a special cylinder manufacturing facility. We also pride ourselves on a central distribution centre located at our Sydney premises as well as a sheet metal operation.”

As Sales Director and with 20 years’ experience, McKew has instilled a customer-centric culture in his team and believes that knowledge is key to the organisation’s success. In terms of his sales team James comments “my motivation is the real fulfilment I get from seeing people become successful” and he makes it his mission to back up his team with the support and mentoring they need to be successful.

“Our team knows exactly what SMC can offer a customer – low cost, high quality and rapid delivery. It is our task to recognize the correct form and fit for our customer. As a registered training organization, our team have up to 60 e-modules per category and training is ongoing in a dynamic field such as this”.

“Our team also understands the environment in which our customers operate and understands their needs and objectives. We can draw on our global knowledge base to solve just about any problem.”

So, what drives SMC? “SMC believes that people deal with people. It is our job to understand your needs and supply you with the right solution which provides tangible benefits. What’s more, if applied and installed correctly our products will out-cycle and outperform competitors – this is the true benefit. In fact, our spare parts turnover is only around 3%. The products just don’t fail”.

SMC strives for customization and in their Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland facilities, cylinder modifications are standard. Simple Specials is a term that you will hear commonly at SMC whereby the qualification of standard products can be set up in 600 000 different ways. “There is no one-size fits all solution here – our products need to fit into your existing business and not the other way around.”

SMC provides a solution for almost every industry and prides itself in offering more solutions than its competitors combined. “We are active in anything from iron ore, coal and diamond mines to aluminum, steel, bauxite processing and base metals. In terms of the food industry we have experience in dairy, meat products, abattoirs and beverages, not to mention fruit and fruit growers”.

“We are currently focusing our sights on the food and beverage industry. The match is quite simple - our products are designed to meet strict health and safety standards and are corrosion resistant with the correct IP ratings. Offering not only actuators, valves and plc control to process valves, SMC products offer high communication control capabilities through Profibus and etherCAT. The high speed and high control function of SMC’s products make them ideal for this environment.”

As part of its growth strategy, McKew’s key focus and personal vision is the expansion of SMC into the food and beverage market. “By providing quality, effective and customized solutions to this particular industry, we believe that we can achieve even greater growth as the market leader.” concludes McKew.


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About SMC: SMC Corporation are the world leaders in pneumatic technology and are experts in automation control. Formed in Japan in 1959, the company now offers over 12,000 basic products with 700,000 variants. The company employs over 17 000 people worldwide and is situated in 84 countries. It is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. SMC is the world’s leading pneumatics provider and has been voted for three consecutive years as one of the most innovative global companies by leading business magazine, Forbes.

Website: www.smcworld.com