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Sheet metal manufacturers usually have many different processes which they use to produce finished products and assemblies. These can include waterjet cutting, CNC punching, laser cutting, oxy-cutting, folding, shearing, painting, and assembly. Lantek, a leader in sheet metal and fabrication technology, is unique in developing a CAD/CAM, MES and ERP system which unifies all these CNC processes in one environment and database, irrespective of the different machines and their manufacturers, including all the non CNC operations, all integrated with management and control of the complete business.
Article written by Rob Powell, Sales Director at Lantek UK
For a company trying to control the manufacture of hundreds of different parts, through multiple processes, Lantek’s software greatly simplifies the task, bringing together quotations, works orders, CNC programs, manual operations, purchasing, stock control, production monitoring and reporting into one single system. In addition, the flexibility of the solution enables manufacturers to pick and choose what they wish to implement allowing them to have a system that fits their needs, yet enables them to have a clear upgrade path, as their requirements develop, putting them on the road to Industry 4.0.
When a new job is ordered, or a new quotation is prepared, managers have to decide how the parts are to be manufactured which involves selecting a series of operations on each component, the material it is to be made from, which machines are to be used and, from that, determine the time taken and hence the cost. This is a complex task when large volumes of parts are going through the workshop simultaneously. With Lantek, all the data for the job and the customer are only entered into the system once, eliminating duplication of effort and possible error. CAD data is analysed and each component in the job is allocated to an environment which is configured to match the technology and capabilities of each individual machine.
This process builds up work lists for each machine in the factory segregated by material thickness and material type, unifying the programing and optimizing the running of all the machines and combining multiple parts from multiple orders in the same sheet of material. This maximizes use of resources and material utilization, and reduces delivery lead times. With this information, Lantek’s software can then automatically nest parts for multiple jobs for each different machine in one or more sheets of the same material, while at the same time generating the cutting path and the CNC code to drive the machine. Lantek’s expertise in sheet metal CAM ensures that the machine use and performance is fully optimised.
With this capability managers simply have to provide information on the job itself, the machine to be used and the material properties. The Lantek software does the rest.
With Lantek’s ERP and MES (Manufacturing Execution System) capability, factory administration is taken to another level. Using information on the cost of material and its usage, from analysis of imported CAD data, and cycle times for both CNC and non CNC tasks quotations can be created extremely quickly. This information is reused in the process planning, order processing and CNC code generation phase as information about the customer, the whole job, the individual components, processes, delivery dates, costs and cycle times, as well as much other information, will already be within the Lantek software. By implementing shop floor data collection, which covers both CNC and manual operations, companies will be able to close the loop to find out the status of production in real time, comparing planned with actual performance, monitor machine efficiency, check that delivery dates are met, generate delivery documentation and link to accounts packages.
Production is subject to many different variables, from customer demands to machine breakdowns and spoilt parts. With live information coming back from the workshop, managers can see exactly where a part has reached and perform other tasks such as, check that planned manufacturing times match reality, request extra parts to replace scrapped components, redirect parts to different machines, check that delivery meets the customer’s requirements, or processes and generate reports on company KPIs.
The capabilities of the system do not end there. Managers of companies with multiple sites can control their businesses remotely while they are on the move. Purchasing and stock control can be included while other software systems such as accounting packages can be integrated.
By providing a system that unifies CADCAM, MES and ERP, dedicated to sheet metal and fabrication applications, Lantek has made it possible for companies within this industry to make a leap forward in managing their factories, simplifying and speeding up vital administrative tasks, bringing together the programming and nesting of all their CNC machinery as well as managing all their other manufacturing operations, a capability which is unique and which brings industry 4.0 within reach.
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