Prices for raw materials and energy have risen enormously in the past year. Even if the situation is currently easing somewhat, the need for companies in the sheet metal production sector to keep their costs as low as possible and thus their prices as competitive as possible for their customers remains.
If you want to reduce material and production costs, you can’t avoid digitization. With more than 30,000 customers worldwide, Lantek is a technology leader in sheet metal processing. For more than 30 years, the IT specialist has been providing the industry with software solutions to improve their efficiency, reduce their costs and increase their productivity and quality. Its software solutions can have a significant impact on manufacturing costs by helping manufacturers get the maximum number of manufactured, high-quality components out of every sheet of metal and by optimizing their processes.
We present the three key areas where Lantek can help manufacturers save money and the corresponding software tools in a three-part mini-series: Lantek Expert/Lantek Flex 3d for nesting, Lantek MES for manufacturing management and Lantek Analytics for evaluation. The tools are fully integrated into Lantek’s modular software suite. Manufacturing companies can thus reduce their costs and at the same time become more productive and competitive.
Save material and energy
Optimized material use in sheet metal production can save not only valuable raw materials but also unnecessary labor for scrap management, thus increasing the efficiency of employees’ work performance. Nesting – also called nesting – is the key to optimizing the use of raw materials. This involves the clever arrangement of workpieces on the sheet or also tube material so that workpieces are positioned as closely as possible next to each other in order to make optimum use of the material – and in the same work step to use the possible remainder after production of current orders, for example for the pre-production of standard pieces.
The aim is, on the one hand, to keep the amount of waste as low as possible and, on the other hand, to avoid the time-consuming handling of remnants as far as possible – removal from the machine, transport to storage, management of the remnants, transport of the remnants back to the machine for reuse. Apart from possible search effort, with poor documentation and logistics.
However, the nesting process and the intelligent management of parts to be cut require experience in the use of CAD-CAM tools and knowledge of the characteristics of cutting machines. All this is included in Lantek’s special programs for automated machine programming: Lantek Expert for sheet metal cutting machines and Lantek Flex3d for tube and profile cutting machines. Both software tools are machine and manufacturer independent; that is, they can control machines from any manufacturer.
The software tools have been developed in collaboration with Lantek’s customers, OEM partners and academic institutions and are continuously evolving to meet the needs of the market and available technologies and machines. They allow users to create optimal nestings. This includes the option to place small parts within the large openings of larger parts or to combine parts from different customers and orders on one and the same plate or for a specific tube or profile material – without losing the overview.
Special features of Lantek Expert and Lantek Flex 3d are used for active collision avoidance, micro-joint creation and gate modification to ensure that neither the machine nor the parts are damaged during manufacturing. On the one hand, this avoids machine downtimes and, on the other, material wastage due to rejects caused by poor quality or faulty parts.
Although the primary goal is to make the best use of material so that only small pieces of scrap remain, Lantek’s software can also capture the remnants of reusable material and manage them for later use by all the cutting machines on the shop floor. With Lantek’s tools, customers can achieve annual savings in residual sheet stock of up to 70 percent and in raw material consumption of over 8 percent – and the associated, not inconsiderable, energy costs for materials management.