The industrial sector is a country’s growth pillar, it’s the competitive advantage of an economy that is able to generate quality employment opportunities that are stable and well recognized both professionally and in terms of salary. However, to sustain these strengths, we need to innovate, renew ourselves and anticipate the progress that is available to society, which unavoidably involves digitization.
At a company level, which is where Michael Porter developed the concept of competitive advantage to identify the characteristics that make an organization unique, in order to be competitive, processes must be streamlined to provide fast solutions, customize assets and services and develop mechanisms that make us more productive, all the while being able to reduce costs without affecting quality. If we manage this, we’ll be more profitable and more competitive in this disruptive environment. And, once again, this involves digitization.
As we discussed in another blog entry, in the metal and sheet metal sector digitizing isn’t about having good Internet connections, something which, incidentally, depends on third parties, it’s about manufacturing while interconnecting processes and machines via the Internet of Things (IoT) and storing all of the data in the Cloud to then use software with advanced algorithms to process it (Analytics) cross-checking current and past data (Big Data) and providing solutions in real time.
However, in order for digitization to show its full potential in our factories, it’s essential for the plant world to merge with the management and manufacturing processes by means of, on the one hand, the convergence of the IT and OT networks, the communication of the plant world with the Cloud using Sherlock and, of course, the integration of software.
Accordingly, at Lantek we have a wide range of interconnected products that supply information to the cloud where Lantek Analytics automatically offers intelligent solutions, without requiring intervention from people, for today and for tomorrow. Let’s go over the combination of programs that bring the Digital Factory to life.
We’ll start with the most technical aspect, the design and cutting software, Lantek Expert, the CAD/CAM program, which provides nesting and automatic machining solutions with advanced algorithms that can be applied to any sheet metal cutting machine (laser, plasma, oxycut or water jet). Within this family, we find: Cut, software created for automating the CNC programming of sheet metal cutting machines; Punch, for punching machines; Lantek Expert Quattro, for optimizing rectangular cutting, especially for shears; and Duct, aimed at boilerworks.
For forms that require three-dimensional design, we have the Lantek Flex3d family, made up of Lantek Flex3d Steelwork, for metal profiles, Lantek Expert 3d Tubes, for, as its name suggests, tubes and piping, and 5X, for cutting machines with five-axis cutting heads.
As well as machine tool operations, this digitization extends to production management with the most advanced program on the market, Lantek MES Manager, which integrates CAD/CAM design solutions, manufacturing management ERP and data analysis. This way, an overview of all manufacturing elements can be obtained in real time. The information gathered is processed using the management tools of the workshop manufacturing processes, from the arrival of an order right up to its eventual delivery using the Lantek MES Manager solution. This solution makes it possible to gather and validate the machines’ key data, not only in terms of inventory and stock, but also performance and labor (Lantek Wos), for gathering information on and validating auxiliary operations that allow you to view activity times, work status, pending operations... (Lantek Capture) and, finally, tools for obtaining up-to-date inventory information (Lantek Inventory).
In parallel, the plant world merges with the business world through Lantek Integra, our own ERP software, compatible with external solutions, that communicates with quoting, manufacturing, validation, inventory, purchasing, sales and billing programs. This program is made up of a series of modules that fully covers short and long-term manufacturing requirements, from the arrival of an order to the after-sale phase. Within Lantek Integra, we can make use of the following modules: Lantek Integra Quotes, a solution envisaged for accessing clients’ information making it possible to track an order in real time, budgeting (cost calculation, sales prices, labor…), Lantek Integra Sales, to control the process from the arrival of an order to shipment management, including invoicing, Lantek Integra Purchases, managing suppliers, purchase orders, stock management and purchasing needs.
This integration of the plant’s management processes and operations would be impossible without a mechanism that allows them to communicate with each other and with the network. The mechanism in question is Lantek Opentalk, which records everything that happens (machine start-up, downtime, faults, completion). That is, this solution makes it possible for the machine to communicate with the aforementioned software in a way that is streamlined and which doesn’t require intervention from operators.
As you can see, it’s all about interconnecting the plant both horizontally and vertically to obtain a cross-cutting effect and get the most out of our Digital Factory, without requiring assistance from people, allowing them to dedicate their time to more creative tasks that are beyond the reach of machines, or where they simply complement them, and subsequently being more productive.