Pioneering success: Vision, Quality and Precision in every Meter
The story of ACL cables is nothing short of legendary, an organization that was established sixty years ago, evolved to embrace changes at every step of the way and grew to hold the largest market share in the country, of one the most successful industries of our time. Mr. Suren Madanayake the current Managing Director and an integral part of the organization recalls ACL’s incredible journey that spans over decades with the true pride of a pioneer.
ACL Cables was founded in 1962, by the pioneers in transport, Associated Motor Ways, manufacturers of tires, cables, batteries, and a wide range of related products during a period notable for import substitution. The controlled economy of the seventies gave rise to a natural demand for the AMW products, resulting in no active requirement for marketing promotion operations. With the establishing of the open economy in the late 70’s, Mr. Upali Madanayake, the current chairman of ACL Cables, and then a member of the AMW board, detached ACL from the mother group and established it as an independent entity. This enabled ACL cables to realize its true potential as a business and grow into a recognized world-renowned brand of its own right.
A Visionary leader on a strategic course
Mr. Suren Madanayake attributes the entire success of ACL Cables to its chairman, Mr.Upali Madanayake and his vision along with his business acumen and farsightedness which enabled him to foresee the potential the future held for the electrical industry. With strategic investments towards machinery and the manufacturing process, by 1984, the monthly turnover of the company was recorded at LKR 2 million. Investing a further LKR 6.5M on machinery the manufacturing plant expanded in operations and was shifted from Kaluthara to a new premises located in Piliyandala. ACL cables have been the pioneers of cable manufacturing in Sri Lanka and being the largest cable manufacturer in the country since inception, they hold a major share of the market recording a turnover of USD 150M as a group. With the largest distribution network owned by any electrical manufacturer in the country, ACL Cables is strengthened by a dealership network of 6000-7000 dealers who are serviced on a weekly basis. A business with a sense of security that come with maturity, today the organization has three cable manufacturing brands under its umbrella. In 1998 ACL cables was able to acquire Kelani Cables; the second largest cable manufacturer in the country and in 2019, Cable Solutions; the 100% export oriented, BOI approved cable manufacturer of Swedish origin became part of the ACL group.
The pioneering spirit and quality consciousness are the other two factors that Mr.Suren Madanayake attributes the success of the organization to. While ACL cables pioneered the cable manufacturing in Sri Lanka, it was the uncompromising quality that made it possible for the organization to maintain unparallel standards and the significant competitive edge which today has enabled the organization to remain as the market leader in cable manufacturing. Another unique feature pioneered by ACL Cables, states Mr.Suren Madanayake is the backward integration. Since 1993 the organization has been compounding Copper and aluminium, two important raw materials used in the manufacturing process. The pioneering of fire-retardant PVC Cables in 2005 is a very beneficial move made by ACL since it elevates the Safety Standards of the entire country from the simplest Households. The organization also operates copper and aluminium plants where different grades of the latter are developed and both metals are finetuned to suit the intended product.
A Global Network Harnessed by Superior Technology
The quality of the ACL products is largely accredited to the Japanese technology, machinery and the expertise of the Japanese engineers who have been involved with ACL Cables since its inception. In 1981 the organization acquired technology from Alind of India for drawing and processing of Aluminium Conductors to jointly manufacture and supply 1400 MT of AAC-Fly Conductor to Ceylon Electricity Board. In 1984 ACL began the manufacturing of armoured cables for the first time with the support of a company based in Singapore. In 1989, ACL Cables jointly with NOKIA of Finland was granted an ADB funded tender floated by Lanka Electricity Company to manufacture XLPE insulated Aerial Bundled Cables or ABC. This was a major turning point for the organization increasing its turnover by two-fold and recording a turnover of LKR 300 million the next year. The manufacturing of Aerial bundle cables was a feat that was a first not only for Sri Lanka but for the entire South Asian Region and in the year 2003 on an invitation made by Reliance Group of India, ACL cables introduced the ABC technology to the largest Power Distribution Company in New Delhi, India. ACL cables exports their products to some of the largest cable importers and manufacturers around the world, including those from Sweden, UK, Africa, India, Maldives, Mauritius, Australia, New Zealand, Vanuatu, and the Caribbean Islands, of worth millions of USD.
The ACL clientele ranges from the domestic households to high end niche markets overseas and it is the Quality and the Reliability of the manufacturer as opposed to Price that have won the brand its customers. Investing in R&D and the acquisition of the right technology and new product development has also enabled the organization to evolve as a futuristic manufacturer which allows ACL Cables to stay ahead of the competition. Today, ACL Cables holds several accreditations including ISO 9002:1994, ISO 9001: 2000 and ISO 9001:2000 Quality Management System Certificates, ISO 14001:1997 and ISO 14001:1997 Environmental Management System Certificates and IS 694 Product Certificate from Bureau of Indian Standards. In addition to these, the organization holds several international accreditations which are a testament to the stringent quality measures practiced by the organization.
ACL’s biggest contribution to Sri Lanka and its people is the maintenance of highest Quality Standards in all its products and making it known to Technicians so that Competitors too find it difficult to deviate from adhering to the same. This has made Sri Lanka a Safe Country with regards to Quality of Cables.
A Guiding Spirit and A Tower of Strength
As a pioneering electronic manufacture with a diverse portfolio of electronic products and cables, ACL believes that there is much more potential for Sri Lanka to achieve in the electrical and electronic export industry. In this endeavour it commends the Sri Lanka Export Development Board for stepping up to address the needs of the exporters and assisting them to overcome challenges such as the unprecedented obstacles that the Sri Lankan export community faced in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The prompt actions of the EDB to arrange for curfew passes for the factories and their workers made it possible for the organization to continue operations. In recent times, intervention of the EDB to procure fuel to power the operations without which the organization would have incurred major losses was much appreciated.
ACL Cables is the proud pioneer of many initiatives of the industry. One such activity that brings credit to its portfolio is the establishment of the Electricians Club, a novel and industrious institution that carries out a range of activities to uplift the lives of electricians, create opportunities for professional growth and improve their welfare. The Electricians Club with the help of the Vocational Training Authority (VTA) supports Electricians to receive professional training in the electrical industry and become NVQ4 certified Technicians. In 2016 the club launched the first ever debit card for electricians which was an initiative executed for the first time in Sri Lanka.
Pioneering Spirit - Uncompromised Standards
The commendable work of ACL Cable has been recognized at many forums, A few notable awards include Taiki Akimoto 5s Merit Award 2007, Industrial Excellence Award in Extra Large Manufacturing Category 2007, Highest Sri Lanka Award for Quality - National Large Manufacturing Category 2007, Highest Sri Lanka Award for Productivity, National Productivity Awards - Large Manufacturing Sector 2007, Winner of World Class Award or the highest Awards of International Asia Pacific Quality Organization in 2008, Industrial Excellence Crystal Award in Extra Large Manufacturing category 2009, National Cleaner Production Award in recognition of Excellence in Resource Efficient & Production Practices in Manufacturing Large Category 2013, Special Award for Excellence Performance in Material Efficiency in Manufacturing Large Category 2013, B2B Brand of the Year - Gold. At Slim Brand Excellence 2015.
Throughout Mr. Suren Madanayake’s account of ACL Cables and its journey was a sense of pride and as reiterated throughout, he ends the conversation with a note on what defines the success of ACL Cables; and its pioneering spirit driven by uncompromised standards of Quality.