A sheet metal workshop is a complex environment. Regardless of whether it’s a large or small workshop, every day there are materials, orders, and tools constantly moving from one side to the other. Without proper organization it’s easy for everything to quickly fall into chaos. As a result, all workshops have their own way of organizing and managing internal logistics. Some have more sophisticated methods while others use more simple ones. Nevertheless, there is always room for improvement. Internal logistics and organization are intangible assets that can improve workshop performance without a great deal of investment. A 10% more efficient procedure can allow for 10% more production and the cost of this is always lower than purchasing better machinery.
Unfortunately, improving internal organization is not always easy or straight-forward. As is often said "the devil is in the details" and improving involves many small organizational changes that are not always conspicuous. Here, using data to gain a detailed and accurate understanding of organizational processes can provide an edge. Where is the most time lost? What are the causes of these inefficiencies? How can we change our processes to make them more efficient?
One of the goals of Lantek360 is to allow our customers to leverage information to, among other things, identify all areas with room for improvement. Some solutions are already available and others have yet to arrive. One example of the former is Lantek Inside, which has an augmented reality module that currently supports part cutting design directly on sheet metal. In the future it will also streamline the collection and classification of parts by identifying them on the augmented reality interface. Orderly denesting of parts will allow them to be assigned initial tracking information that will create the basis for subsequent tracking throughout the entire production process.
With this information, asset location systems – the assets being mainly parts, containers, and tools – and new artificial intelligence techniques make it possible to quickly and simply find operational bottlenecks in the workshop. And that’s not all. With artificial intelligence and machine learning, previously gathered data can be used to analyse trends and predict future behaviours, which will open the door to new functionalities that were previously merely the stuff of dreams. What if the information from previous quotes could be used with acceptance data in order to be able to provide quotes more quickly and more successfully? What if the system automatically suggested nesting modifications to make production more efficient? What if it were intelligent enough to allow forklift movement from the warehouse to the workshop to be coordinated so that all materials, parts, and tools are exactly where they should be at exactly the right time? The sky is the limit.
In-workshop tracking is not only limited to the location of assets, but also to how all the information generated in innovative ways is used to reach the end goal: improved efficiency and lower costs with new ways of working. This is possible thanks to mass data collection in the plant and leveraging said data with new technologies based on artificial intelligence and machine learning. Lantek is developing new products based on these capabilities to continue progressing toward the industry of the future.