I have owned Anyang Forging Press (AFP) hammers since 2003 and in 2008, became the distributor for North America when the previous distributor passed away. Before I agreed to distribute the AFP hammers, my father and I visited the factory to make sure they were legitimate… that they actually made the power hammers and their manufacturing capabilities and quality. I also wanted to make sure they were people I could work with and form a long-term business relationship with.
After spending a week with their engineers, quality control, manufacturing, and assembly people, I knew that AFP was the right company to partner with. They were one of the largest forging equipment manufacturers in the world. They had a diverse customer base ranging from Nissan, Honda, Komatsu, companies that made components for other American auto manufacturers as well as the American defense industry. I knew with their diversity of customers and products that AFP would be in business for the long term. We have seen many power hammer companies start up, sell a few hammers, then close, leaving their customers with no support or spare parts.
Between 2008 and 2016, collaborating with the AFP engineers, John Nicholson (Anyang UK) and Bruce Beamish (Anyang Australia), we made well over 40 improvements to the hammers. The oiling system was totally re-engineered, easier grease zerk locations, ram/guides, improved gasket material… the list of improvements was huge. In 2015, Bruce Beamish, my father, and I traveled to the factory to begin design on the new “L” hammer. The key features included a key out design, heavier anvil mass and deeper throat, longer stroke, and a new breathing system. AFP was awarded a patent by the China government for this design. This was the most significant change ever made to power hammers made in China.
In 2016 several people that were in the sales organization at AFP left and stole all of the drawings of the new AFP power hammer. ST was essentially the “Trading Company” (sales organization) and they found a small company (Jia Hua) to manufacture the parts. ST not only stole the drawings and design, they also tried to confuse the market by naming their company Anyang ST and put on the front page of their website “We are the real Anyang Power Hammer Manufacturer”. They also stole pictures of hammers and presses in my shop and used them on their website. My website has always been www.anyangusa.net ST has now registered www.anyangusa.com as their website... trying to confuse customers.
From the beginning, it was clear that there was Intellectual Property theft involved. AFP worked with the government and finally received a ruling against Jai Hua that included a fine, firing the people who originally came from AFP, the admittance of theft, promise to stop making hammers for ST, and a public apology. There is currently an ongoing investigation into the ex-AFP employees.
ST or others may try to find another manufacturer for power hammers but if they use the same design (external or internal specifications), they will again be the subject of potential government action.
When buying power hammers (or other equipment) from China, Turkey, India, or other countries, I offer the following advice:
1. Make sure that you are buying from the real manufacturer and not a trading company.
2. Research the history of the company. Many companies come and go in China. There are many power hammer brands (Wolf, Striker, and others) that are no longer in business.
3. Be careful of warrantee claims. Many will say “we have a one-year warranty” but you have to pay for the transportation of the part which may be more than the value of the part.
4. Don’t assume that all manufacturers are of high quality. I have found that the machining tolerances of many manufacturers are not up to the standard that you need for high performance, long-life product.
5. Try to buy from a local distributor. Power hammers are built to last a very long time. You want to make sure that you have a support system not only for spare parts but for advice and knowledge. You will typically not get that when you try to buy direct from a manufacturer in China.
- James R Johnson