Rob Powell, Commercial Director, Lantek Systems on how the industry is changing.
January 30, 2020 -- In the sheet metal industry, there have been some step changes in technology with the arrival of fiber laser and tube cutting lasers which have delivered major improvements in productivity and technical capability. Many companies within the industry have already invested in these machines and are looking for new ways of getting a competitive advantage.
Now, companies are thinking about how investing in MES software, which brings together a whole raft of topics including CAD/CAM, CRM, Sales and quotations, machine productivity and KPI analysis can do far more for profitability and efficiency than upgrades to the machines themselves.
The result is that as part of any planning for future machinery investment, the first priority is the ability of the machine to integrate and communicate with the MES system, Therefore, it makes sense to pick open software which provides the maximum flexibility for machine choice and which can control and monitor other non CNC manufacturing operations.
The reality is that laser cutting is a commodity service now and cost, quality, service and delivery performance are the main differentiators between suppliers.
To get these factors right within a business is a complex task especially as companies expand with multiple machine tools, production sites and international operations, which is why investment in specialised manufacturing management software is a high priority.
For companies to achieve another leap in efficiency and productivity will require them to implement MES software. This will analyse, automate and control the administrative aspects of their businesses, help them make decisions based on evidence, make use of historic and real time data and give them the ability to work in a close partnership with customers and suppliers.
Sheet metal manufacturing is a niche industry, where knowledge of the processes involved is crucial in arriving at the best price, quality and delivery offering. Generic MES software simply does not have this capability, hence a specialist solution is essential.
Three examples illustrate what can be done now
- This client processes over 100,000 tons of sheet and plate every year through a range of different laser cutting machines. The software we have supplied sorts the parts by thickness and material type. At any one time around 35 jobs can be running with 100 different parts in each job. The software resolves this problem, nesting parts and generating the CNC program automatically, which has enabled the company to increase turnover by 13% annually with the same resources.
- Automating quotations allows this company to produce about 800 quotes each month directly from DXF files, drawings and sketches. The system knows the cut length and has different options for cutting methods and nesting as well as continually updated material prices. This ability to accurately arrive at price and delivery has made it possible for the company to average around four days from order to delivery while making more parts and increasing profits by over 10%.
- With three plants in the UK, and plans for exponential growth, this manufacturer understands the importance of digitalization. It generates 3000 quotations each month and has a variety of machinery. The importance of monitoring and controlling the flow of parts through the workshop is self-evident for this company as is making use of the data for decision making. It sees the benefits of cloud computing to simplify its IT structure and allow remote working and it also anticipates integrated working with suppliers, customers and even delivery service providers. The flexibility provided by Lantek is at the core of its operation, giving it choice in machinery, the ability to integrate with other software and a path towards its ultimate digitalisation goal.
These are examples of what companies are achieving today with software that has made a fundamental difference to their businesses. Advances in the technology within the machines will of course continue to deliver productivity improvements but, organizing all the administrative tasks which go to make up a business, is an area that will deliver a step change in efficiency, customer service and profitability.
Using Lantek MES Manager, companies can introduce efficiency improvements to their businesses at their own pace. The concepts of a smart factory can be daunting however, there is no need to make the change in one step. With Lantek you can start by just implementing accurate quotations and automated nesting then gradually building up to shop floor reporting, KPI analysis, stock control, multi-site manufacturing management and ultimately a smart factory.
Furthermore, you can have the flexibility of running a mixture of different laser cutting machines according to your budget and the performance of the machines.
Lantek is a multinational that is leading the digital transformation of companies in the sheet metal and metal industry. With its patented smart manufacturing software, it enables factories to be connected, turning them into Smart Factories. It rounds off its range of services with CAD, CAM, MES, and ERP solutions for companies that manufacture metal parts from sheet metal, tubes, and profiles using any cutting technology ( laser, plasma, oxycut, waterjet, shearing, and punching).
Founded in 1986 in the Basque Country (Spain), one of the main European hubs of machine tool development, Lantek enables the integration of sheet metal and metal processing technologies using the most advanced manufacturing management software. The company is currently the outstanding leader in its sector thanks to its capacity for innovation and commitment to internationalization. With more than 21,884 customers in over 100 countries and 20 offices in 14 countries, it has an extensive network of distributors with an international presence. In 2018, its international business contributed to 86% of its revenue.
For more information, visit:
LANTEK Diana Sánchez
Tel. +34 945 771 700
Lantek Systems Ltd
+44 (0)1684 342345