Interview with Alberto Martínez, CEO of Lantek
What stage of the digital transformation is Lantek at?
At Lantek not only have we always strived to be at the vanguard, but to also create it, to be that necessary step ahead of the market.
In a sector defined by innovation in technologies and processes, and conditioned by the demands of a global and hyper-connected world, reaction times are extremely short. We must be flexible and quick to be competitive.
Evidently, we could not talk about promoting the digital transformation of the metal industry if we, as a company, had not assumed and internalized this challenge. After laying the foundations of this necessary evolution and adopting and adapting ourselves to the market’s trends, we can say that we have achieved a significant level of digitization and that our company is a driving force in our sector.
The digital transformation of the market has led us to review and reapproach our business, applying technology as a facilitator of change, but with a particular focus on the people in our organization, so that they can help us manage this transformation. This firm commitment to technology associated with Industry 4.0 has made Lantek a pioneer in the digitization of companies in the sheet metal sector.
To reach this point, what are the main challenges the company has faced?
Technology is in our DNA, and developing specific solutions for the digitization of our clients has cleared the path towards preventing the challenges from being excessive or unattainable.
However, challenges are intrinsic to processes of change and to business. To mention one, we could say that the acquisition of new knowledge and technologies derived from this transformation has been a challenge, not so much as users, but as in-house developers of our own solutions.
The digital transformation not only consists of deploying enablers or tools, it also entails a cultural change within organizations. How has this affected Lantek?
Digitization is a phenomenon that affects the entire company and places us before a new paradigm where collaboration is at the epicenter. It is necessary to change mentality and to undertake a process of deep cultural change within the organization itself, as it requires the transformation of people and a commitment to the acquisition of new skills. Achieving this requires training and raising awareness among employees so they are aware of their new role and can properly integrate the new tools in their dynamic and routines.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution means, like any big revolution, a deep reconversion of the labor market. It is a challenge for which companies and workers must be prepared: the company, to retain and attract talent; and the workers, to adapt, retrain and learn new digital skills.
What situation are the companies in the metal sector in with regard to the digital transformation?
Our sector is rapidly evolving, as an increasing number of companies understand the benefits of connecting their machines and factories globally. In addition, we’re at the perfect moment, as the surrounding conditions are there to favor digitization, which is making it possible to undertake this transition: the technology is available; the prices of developments and innovative tools are falling; most governments are willing and have designed specific programs to help companies in their digital transformation; and new managers are aware of the importance of digitization and are prepared to implement the cultural change in their companies to achieve it.
Many companies have barely automated their processes and are cut off from the world of the Internet because it doesn’t seem crucial for their company. How do you make them realize that if they don’t digitize they are condemning themselves to failure or even to disappear?
Changing is always tough, that’s why some organizations are reluctant, claiming that it would be impossible to return a profit on the investments in machinery, or that they do not have the resources to undertake this digital transformation.
I think this is a short-termist outlook. The sooner they redesign their methodologies, redefine their processes by giving them greater interconnection to facilitate data analysis and decision-making, the sooner they will speed up and add intelligence to their plants, prepared to compete in the Industry 4.0 environment and ready for the future.
Lantek also advises its clients, understanding their starting point, on how far they can go and how to get there, and of course, accompanying them during their digital transformation process.
What advice would you give them? Where would you recommend that they start?
The changes are so huge, that it requires the firm commitment of management, who must be aligned with the goal of digitization, defining and directing the goals to be achieved. Employees must also understand why they need to change, training in digital skills, and how they will benefit personally from this change.
At the same time, we recommend that they analyze and see the direction they want to take, establishing a roadmap and seeing what processes need to change to adapt to the new reality. Having explained these points, we have to decide what technologies will support this change and what complexities can be eliminated to gain efficacy and productivity.
Having the help of a trustworthy partner is essential.
In addition to developing software, Lantek is committed to helping other companies, its clients, to undertake the digital transformation. How will it be done?
We’ve committed ourselves to developing advanced manufacturing solutions that connect machines, processes and plants to facilitate the digitization of our clients by making them more competitive.
In our case, advanced manufacturing is applied to "how" the different technologies enable advanced interconnection, integrating machines, systems and processes horizontally and vertically, and the management of data in the plant, helping our clients to also connect plants between each other and between their ecosystem. All this to turn the plants into Smart Factories, improving the technological and competitive positioning of the company in their sector.