OEM Solutions Are open systems the route to the Smart Factory?
Software developer Lantek has been supporting the sheet metal industry with its solutions for 35 years. It has accomplished this by helping OEM machine tool manufacturers optimise the functionality and performance of their machines while enabling companies take advantage of new, productivity boosting, CAD/CAM, MES, ERP software and cloud-based technologies. Integral to this approach is a neutral stance for its OEM partners, giving them the confidence to trust them with information about the individual technology advances each is working to develop. To facilitate this secure coordination, the company has established a focused and dedicated department to manage the 150 OEMs it now supports. This special team is giving each OEM individual attention on their projects and is supporting them in their implementation and market rollouts to ensure the technology works as intended and, that their customers are happy with the results. Lantek has 20 offices in 14 countries and a global dealer network across 100 countries which the company puts at the disposal of its OEM partners for professional support. Park Jung-sik, Chief Marketing Officer of HK Laser in Korea, says, “Lantek Korea engineers have been well received by our customers, providing technical support to fully link the Smart Factory system with HK equipment.”
Software development is a long and complex process. Lantek has been developing its sheet metal CAM, ERP and MES software solutions for 35 years. Mostly, its innovations come from long hours working in partnership with sheet metal manufacturers and machine tool builders, incorporating their requirements while anticipating the direction the industry is heading, providing features and innovations that add real value for customers. This knowledge and experience can only be acquired after years working in partnership with machine tool builders.
Since 2019, Lantek’s OEM partnerships have grown 16 percent with an increase in OEM channel sales of 41 percent.
Special collaborative projects
Over the years, Lantek has developed software to support many new sheet metal devices and technologies including bevelling, drilling, inkjet/laser marking, pallet handling, etc. As these technologies became more common in the market, the software developer implemented generic solutions so that a range of different machines with these capabilities could be driven from the standard Expert CAM software simply by configuring the postprocessor to suit the requirements of each machine.
There are hundreds of these functions which Lantek has developed with its OEM partners. Many are now part of the standard Lantek Expert system and, as new machine models have been developed, the company has customised postprocessors for each of them, irrespective of the OEM, giving Lantek probably the largest library of postprocessors in the industry.
Recent projects have included collaboration with OEMs on collision avoidance on their fibre lasers. Its OEM partner, Danobat, is an example where the company helped provide collision avoidance for its coil laser cutting machines. Xabier Peñaranda, Technical Manager for Danobat, explains, “Thanks to the collaboration with Lantek, we have been able to create a reliable cutting solution where the cutting trajectories and sheet advancements are combined in a such a way that no collisions appear during hundreds of metres of coil processing, with no human intervention.”
Automation for sheet metal machinery is now common and is an area where Lantek collaborated with OEM Euromac. Ferran Villanueva, Euromac's Sales Director, says, “Euromac is offering new automation options which improve productivity for our customers. Our collaboration with Lantek on new palletisation systems based on gantry devices and vision system robots has enabled total automation of the punching and unloading process for sheet metal parts.”
Tube cutting is a rapidly growing technology in the sheet metal industry. Again, the software supplier has extensive experience collaborating with leading companies in the industry such as Han’s Laser to develop advances that deliver economies in material usage, the ability to handle new 4X/5X cutting heads and new chuck devices for managing new tube and beam formats. Flame Chen, CEO of Han’s Laser, says, “For all the years we have been working with Lantek, they have been truly helpful, supportive and innovative. Their products and solutions offer great flexibility and openness with powerful performance. The service they’ve provided exhibits particular expertise and professionalism.”
Smart Factory evolution
For much of its history in software development, Lantek has been evaluating and working towards the concept of the Smart Factory. Now, with the evolution of Industry 4.0 and the challenges created by the pandemic, this technology is becoming mainstream. Companies of all sizes are examining how smart techniques can be used for their application. The software expert has a clear advantage as its mature products such as MES and Analytics are designed specifically for the sheet metal industry. For OEMs these advances are equally important as sheet metal manufacturers will want to integrate their machinery with their customers’ business systems. The company is convinced that open technology and OEM collaboration are paramount for the success of the sheet metal industry.