|Clive Martell, CEO of Delcam, at the venue of Delcam Asian Technical Summit 2011
Earlier this month, UK CADCAM software developer Delcam held its annual Asian Technical Summit in Zhuhai, China as part of the celebrations of the 15th anniversary of the founding of its Delcam China subsidiary. CMJ was invited to join this event and had an interview with Delcam CEO Clive Martell.
CMJ: Are you satisfied with Delcam China's development so far?
Mr Martell: Like all new adventures, it takes a little time to get started and gain momentum, but now our presence in China is building well. We’ve built a lot of the sales partners. We’ve been establishing very good reputation in the commercial sectors and academic sectors we’re working in. I’m very happy with the current pace and our plan is to continue to grow at the current rate.
CMJ: Delcam started to purchase offices in China, first in Beijing and then in Chengdu. What’re the reasons behind this move, particularly buying the Chengdu office?
Mr Martell: It seems sensible to us since we’re building our teams here so we have to increase our stability. We also see appreciation at the value of these offices. We’re building larger teams, so we will be looking to buy more offices in future.
We have offices in different parts of China and we’re aware our customer base was growing in the central area. So we wanted to expand our presence in Chengdu and looked to have a bigger office there. While we were moving our office we thought it was a good time to buy the new office there. I visited it earlier in the year, just before we moved into the office building. We are pleased to be in our new home.
CMJ: Have you set any new target for Delcam China, led by General Manager Mr Joe Zhou?
Mr Martell: We are looking to grow by 20% within our China business, including the business in Hong Kong as well.
CMJ: Do you see any challenges in achieving that 20% growth?
Mr Martell: There are always challenges. We have a situation where the world economy is going, potentially, into another uncertain period although, at the moment, it is not affecting our business. I hope we will continue to see steady growth.
Also, it is necessary that we continue to find good people to recruit into Delcam China in order that we can grow our team and expand our presence in China. So I think there will be two key challenges.
CMJ: Can you talk a little bit more of the global economic situation, although the effect may not be that apparent at the moment?
Mr Martell: Obviously we'll have a period of uncertainty because of the budget deficit in the US and the rebalancing at the euro-zone economy. Both events need to be managed carefully by the European and the American governments in order to ensure we do not have a short-term crisis in confidence.
CMJ: Do you think it will be another financial turmoil like those happening in 2008?
Mr Martell: No, I hope sensible providence will find sensible answers to move us forward in this stage and it will be decided not on political grounds but on sensible economic grounds for decisions to be made.
CMJ: You mentioned that one of the challenges is recruiting good people. But in a way, your software is helping manufacturers solve the problem of shortage of skilled workers.
Mr Martell: It is a tool that helps them to do that. But it is very important that they have people using our software who understand the mold manufacturing process in detail. Those people need extensive training of their skills in order to gain the knowledge and background to be able to use our software sensibly. One of the ways in which we’re helping is by working with Chinese educational establishments in order to raise the knowledge of our software. We found sponsoring the NC competition has been a very effective way of doing that. Equally our customers find it necessary to give detailed training themselves to new recruits in order to bring them to the standard they need. I hope that by making more students more aware of our software when they attend university that they would have a good start when they arrive at the workplace and they can learn the specialism to do with that type of molds that they manufacture.
CMJ: When did Delcam China start cooperation with those educational institutes?
Mr Martell: We have educational customers for a number of years and we started to be a sponsor for the NC competition two years ago.
CMJ: Apart from China, what observations do you have on other markets, for example, India, Southeast Asia and even South America?
Mr Martell: As labor costs have increased in the West, manufacturing is being redistributed to other countries. We are saying not only growth in China but also strong growth in India. We are also saying that a lot of the high-tech manufacturing in Korea is driving a lot of our business as well. Countries like Indonesia are also growing because of their automotive manufacturing and shoe making activities. Also in South America, Brazil is becoming more important as a manufacturing economy.
CMJ: Delcam keeps improving its software technically. In your opinion, what will be the directions of those technical developments in future?
Mr Martell: We have three main inputs into our future development directions. One is the feedback that our customers provide. One is the joint research projects that we carry out with other companies, particularly those within the European market. And the third one is the inspirations that our staff have on how they can develop new functionalities. All of those are very important for us in deciding how we move our products forward.
Higher efficiency and higher user-friendliness are always what our customers want. What our customers would really like is the one button push which creates toolpath for their products, or they can design their products in a single button push. Obviously life is not that simple but we do everything we can in order to make our functionality more automated and more powerful and easier to learn and use as well.
CMJ: The industry is looking for more and more advanced manufacturing technology. What do you see the role of CADCAM software in this aspect?
Mr Martell: It is an essential part of manufacturing these days because people are producing components which need to be manufactured to very tight tolerances. They need to be manufactured with the minimum possible material involved and in the most efficient way. And to do that, it is necessary to have 3D design models to apply analysis to them in order to go through these processes. So you couldn’t make products of the quality and consistency that you see today without CADCAM processes being involved.