Joseba Montoya, Commercial Director of Lantek Spain and Portugal
The naval sector has been undergoing continuous reconversion since the 1980s. Spanish shipyards can take advantage of this transformation by following the path that allows them to revolutionize their production processes for once and for all, and even their business models. They don’t have to settle for optimizing their processes. They are presented with an excellent opportunity to acquire much desired competitiveness vis-à-vis global competitors in the course of the digitalization process. They can become key players in the sector by becoming more flexible, profitable and, fundamentally, sustainable.
Everything has to start with the restructuring of production processes, adapting them to the predominating business models in the sector. Machines must be connected to and cooperate with production management systems. The utilization of the data generated by the systems and the machines, applying Business Intelligence, Big Data or similar techniques, will give rise to the emergence of new approaches and ways of proceeding which add new value to the chain. The large-scale availability of new digital technologies (Cloud, simulation, artificial vision, IIoT, robotics, collaborative platforms, etc.) makes all of this possible. The shipbuilding industry can make its processes smarter and more advanced by automating the entire value chain, as from the shipyards themselves up to the component and service enterprises.
This doesn’t mean that we should start from a clean slate. Digitalization and the move towards the "all connected" requires a new approach that provides an integrative vision. A strategy will have to be drawn up in which the latest technological advances coexist harmoniously with other more traditional solutions, which are still perfectly valid in the new model.
Innovation and competitiveness: the Gordian knot in the naval sector
The Spanish shipbuilding sector enjoys high international prestige due to its quality and tradition in construction. This is demonstrated by companies such as Navantia, Astander or Astican, or the shipyards of Mallorca, Murueta or Zamakona. It is also one of the drivers in the ancillary industry. The sheet metal and metal processing sector in its broadest sense (from metal manufacturers to suppliers of cutting technologies, etc.) is closely linked. In order to remain competitive, these shipyard suppliers have the opportunity to position themselves at the top and to become the shipyards’ preferred choice, incorporating these technological advances and ensuring that the entire value chain is integrated and automated, as from shipyards up to component and service enterprises.
A serious approach to achieving this competitiveness requires the aforementioned incorporation of new technologies as the differentiating element. It’s all very well to talk about others having to incorporate innovative technologies, however, software providers should, perhaps, do just the opposite. In other words, what do we do to facilitate and bring the use of technological innovations closer to the shipyard sector by using software?
The answer to this question requires in-depth and exhaustive knowledge of the naval market and the peculiarities of each particular company. The ability to adapt to the specific needs of any enterprise, as we endeavor to do at Lantek, is a key element for the success of digitalization in this complex environment.
In the shipbuilding sector, one of the most metal-related markets, we are backed by years of research, development and successful implementation of specific software solutions to optimize and make sheet metal production processes (design, nesting and machining) more profitable for the construction of ships and other types of vessels.
Technology for efficiency
Having a complete, innovative and scalable offer of solutions, prepared to satisfactorily meet the requests from the naval industry, providing it with extreme precision, agility and versatility, as well as optimization and saving of time and material, is the starting point that contributes to the modernization and transformation of this sector. It provides all production processes with higher levels of efficiency and profitability.
Amongst others, this translates into CAD/CAM Nesting technologies specially designed to automate the programming of sheet metal cutting machines by oxycut, plasma, laser or water jet. In the case of the naval sector, the possibility of making these cuts in such a way as to facilitate the assembly and welding of the different elements is an essential issue. Multiple technological options are available for machining management, such as loops and bevels that help in the programming of cutting machines with triple and rotary torches, and tie-downs that allow cutting pieces of great length or thickness, with results one hundred per cent faithful to the design generated. Along these lines, naval enterprises have geometry importers compatible with the main ship design systems on the market. As a novel element, and in order to avoid errors and failures, a functionality has recently been incorporated specifically designed for situations that occur regularly in the naval industry. Lantek Expert, CAD/CAM 2D software for metal cutting, which manages the destruction of holes, skeletons and scrap, as a component to assist in the removal, treatment and management of waste and avoiding the collision of the cut parts with sensitive machine parts.
Another of the scenarios that are solved with innovation in technologies for the naval industry are related to simplifying the workflow through automatic processes. The automation of tasks allows concatenating routine processes and improving nesting groups according to the customer’s needs.
The identification and traceability of parts widens the spectrum of possible solutions thanks to the marking of QR codes, capable of housing a greater amount of information on sheet metal and scrap automatically and semi-automatically. New possibilities of encapsulating information associated with the part, which even allow incorporating the operations and characteristics that must be associated with the part once it has been cut (color, treatments, bending, etc.). Other specific options very common in the naval industry are multi-torch cutting, which increases the production of each machine, continuous cutting, which eliminates drilling times and increases the useful life of the cutting nozzles, or the possibility of managing any marking, engraving or spot-welding procedure that the machine has.
The result for the customer: simplification and greater automation of their tasks, greater control and visibility of production and significant savings in terms of time and costs, and more useful data capture. In other words, smarter industrial production.
Saving time and material
Nesting softwarefor cutting allows optimizing the material and reducing the machining time. This CAD/CAM software offers automatic and semi-automatic nesting algorithms or nesting by multi-torch, among other advantages, and is another important contribution to efficiency in the operation of shipyards. Technology allows nesting and automatic machining in double and symmetrical sheet metal, the exhaustive control of scrap and pre-nesting to select the sheet format with which the best performance is obtained.
The calculation of times and costs, the preview of machine loads, traceability or integration with any existing management system are other functionalities that we have adapted for the naval sector. All these competitive advantages in terms of metal treatment and processing contribute to making the naval sector vanguard where agility, extreme precision and the adaptation of technological solutions to its production processes are required.
The challenge facing the shipbuilding sector with Industry 4.0 is not easy, however it isn’t unattainable either. From the technological field we put our knowledge, experience and innovation at your disposal as enablers at your service to join you in this transition and the adaptation of your production processes as well as the efficient allocation of resources so that the wind does indeed blow in your favor.
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