Midtherm Laser specialises in laser cutting and folding and, with around 40,000 parts going through its workshop every week, needed an efficient way of handling the large volume of administrative work necessary to deliver high quality parts on time at a competitive cost. Mark Hannon, Works Manager for Midtherm Laser, says, “We moved to our Dudley site in 2004 and since then we have grown to four Bystronic CO2 flatbed lasers, one Bystronic fibre laser and two press brakes. Before we installed the Lantek software we used around four software packages which did not connect to one another to manage the business.”
Lantek’s CADCAM and ERP system has enabled Midtherm Laser to smooth its quotation, customer relationship and production processes, nest parts and program all five of its lasers in one system, control non CNC processes such as folding, powder coating or tapping and automatically generate delivery notes and invoices.
The company has around 350 live customers. Because of its reputation and service some of these simply order parts without asking for a quotation. However, Midtherm still needs to create in the region of 800 quotations every month which is a simple and fast process with Lantek. Mark Hannon explains, “We get CAD models, DXF files, drawings or even just a description of the part or kit to be quoted for. We manufacture a huge variety of parts from different industries including pharmaceutical, aerospace, automotive, petro chemical and construction, so we need to be very flexible. We import the CAD data or redraw it where necessary to get it into the Lantek software. All the customer and job data is only entered once, while within the system we have the price per kilogram of the material which we update monthly. We can then choose how we want to define the material usage, for example, laser with common line cutting or whether to nest parts in a large cutout on a particular job. The system already knows the cut length and we have a generic machine defined for cycle time generation. With this information, we can create a new and accurate quotation extremely quickly.”
During the configuration of the Lantek system Midtherm Laser worked through the large number of parameters available within the system with one of Lantek’s engineers. Once the defaults have been set to suit the machines and way of working, operation is very simple as the layout of the different screens within the Lantek system is consistent so editing parameters where necessary is intuitive. The user can even simulate the nest of parts, if required, to get an even more accurate cost. Using the generic machine configuration gives Midtherm the flexibility to choose which of its five machines to cut the parts on. Once the quotation is finished it is recorded with a unique number and it is emailed to the customer, set out in a format tailored to Midtherm’s requirements.
Once the order is placed, the quotation becomes a sales order with the click of a button. Parts are amalgamated with all the other ordered parts according to material and thickness and delivery date. A dynamic nest is created which may feature parts from several different customers, as well as stock parts, and which may use up tracked and identified sheet remnants from previous operations, maximizing material utilisation. The system also creates a job list for a number of sheets of material together with a diagram of the individual part and the different nests to allow easy identification. A separate job card is issued for the laser cut part when there are extra operations such as folding or external operations such as tapping. These cards have extra information about how the part is to be folded or special production instructions for repeat jobs.
As each process is completed, including non CNC and external operations, the information is fed back into the Lantek Manager software, instantly updating the status of each part. Mark Hannon says, “Previously, it was very difficult to find out where a part was in the production cycle, we would probably have had to look for it. Now we can get an answer instantly searching the data by many different parameters enabling us to track an order and ensure on time delivery. Once the parts or kits have been completed, a delivery note and invoice is automatically generated and the data passed to our accounting system.”
He adds, “Our order input has increased vastly and delivery times have gone from 5-7 days to 4-5 days and, despite the recent huge drop in material prices, our turnover has gone up which means we are producing more parts with the same machinery. More importantly, profits are up by 10-15%. Administration is much quicker and because it is all in one system our employees are collaborating much better as they all understand the complete process and can switch between roles. We are now considering a 3rd shift which will provide us with even more efficiency through reduced energy costs at night.”
Lantek is a multinational company which is leading the digital transformation of companies in the industrial sector of sheet metal and metal. It offers its own software solutions in business manufacturing intelligence, which enable connecting the plants thereby converting them into smart factories. It rounds off its range with the development of CAD/CAM/MES/ERP solutions for companies that manufacture metal parts from sheet metal, tubes and profiles, with any cutting technology:laser, plasma, oxycut, waterjet, shearing,and punching.
Founded in 1986 in the Basque Country and with its headquarters in Vitoria-Gasteiz (Álava), Lantek enables the integration of cutting and punching technologies in the plant using the most demanding advanced manufacturing management software. The company is currently the outstanding leader in its sector thanks to its capacity for innovation and commitment to internationalization. With more than 19,000 clients in over 100 countries and its own offices in 15 countries, it has an extensive network of distributors with a worldwide presence. In 2016, its international business contributed to 85% of its revenue.
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