CAD/CAM, ERP Software Ups Laser Productivity, Cuts Lead TimeJune 27, 2018
Midtherm Laser, Dudley, England, specializes in laser cutting and folding and, with 40,000 parts routing through its workshop each week, needed an efficient way to handle the large volume of administrative work required to deliver high-quality product on time and at a competitive cost. It was able to do that via Lantek’s CAD/CAM and ERP system, which allowed the fabricator to streamline its quotation, customer-relationship and production processes; nest parts and program all five of its laser-cutting machines in one system; control non-CNC processes such as folding, powder coating or tapping; and automatically generate delivery notes and invoices.
“We moved to our Dudley site in 2004, and since then we have grown to four Bystronic CO2 flat-bed laser cutters, one Bystronic fiber-laser machine and two press brakes,” says Mark Hannon, Midtherm Laser’s works manager. “Before we installed the Lantek software we used four software packages, which did not connect to one another, to manage the business.”
Flexibility is key as the company counts 350 live customers and manufactures a large variety of parts for various industries. Some customers simply order parts without asking for quotes, but Midtherm still must create nearly 800 quotations every month. That’s become a simple and rapid process with Lantek software, according to Hannon.
“We get CAD models, DXF files, drawings or even just a description of the part or kit to be quoted for,” he says. “We import the CAD data or redraw to deliver it into the Lantek software. We enter all of the customer and job data only once, while within the system we have material prices per kg., which we update monthly. We then can choose how we want to define the material usage–for example, whether to employ a laser with common-line cutting or 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.”
Upon order placement, the quotation becomes a sales order with the click of a button. Parts integrate with all other ordered parts according to material, 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 tracked and identified sheet remnants from previous operations, thus maximizing material utilization. The system also creates a job list for a number of material sheets as well as a diagram of the individual part and the different nests to allow for easy identification. A separate job card is issued for the laser-cut part when it requires extra operations such as folding or tapping. These cards contain extra information on how the part is to be folded or special production instructions for repeat jobs.
As each process is completed, the information feeds back into the Lantek Manager software, instantly updating the status of each part.
“Previously, it was very difficult to find out where a part was in the production cycle,” Hannon says. “Now we can get an answer by instantly searching the data via many different parameters, enabling us to track an order and ensure on time delivery.
“Our order input has increased vastly and delivery times have gone from 7 days to 4,” he concludes. “Administration is much quicker, and because we have everything in one system our employees collaborate much better as they all understand the complete process and can switch between roles.”
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