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Jeff Rowe
Jeff Rowe
Jeffrey Rowe has almost 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the design … More »

Lantek Sheet Metal Software Release Moves Customers Closer to Industry 4.0

 
April 21st, 2016 by Jeff Rowe

Lantek, a provider of sheet metal software systems announced the global 2016 release of its Lantek Factory concept and associated software products. The new version is targeted toward companies producing parts for sheet metal tubes and profiles. According to the company, the new release provides capabilities for customers to implement Industry 4.0 advanced and agile manufacturing processes. It’s the Industry 4.0 angle that makes this announcement really interesting.

Headquartered in Spain, Lantek Sheet Metal Solutions’ product suites include, Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), as well as its CAD/CAM nesting software. The software is used by companies fabricating sheet metal, tubes, and beams with cutting techniques that include laser, plasma, oxy-cut, water jet, shear, and punching.

Lantek Factory

The new release includes the following products and suites:

  • Lantek Workshop MES software enables the typical lag time between work centers to be checked, the arrival of outsourced work monitored and working capacity to be examined. Visual tools let users see the estimated time sum for an execution date and get reports on the available capacity by work center. Lantek has also introduced a new web-based version of Lantek Workshop Capture, specifically designed for use on a tablet for mobile data capture.
  • Lantek Integra Has improved the quotation stages of this ERP system with tools for calculating costs associated with operations and new dynamic pricing controls, which allow companies to apply different mark-ups according to commercial considerations or, if preferred, the capability for various methods of margin calculation. New quality assurance features keep track of returns, including reasons for the return, replacement parts, credit notes, and returnable packaging management. The traceability offered here helps to reduce the instance of returns and, for packaging, helps companies to maintain their commitments for recycling.
  • REPLICA is a system of integration mechanisms. The newOpentalk capability makes it possible for a machine to send events in real time and transfer them to management systems, while Powersync enables integration between Lantek software and the management systems already in place within a company, synchronizing defined data sets to a specified schedule, or on demand.
  • Lantek Flex3D The company introduced a complete new CAD toolbox for tube design to ease designing tubes and incorporating machining features necessary for cutting. Capabilities include multiple shapes for tube ends and for text on tubes as well as enhanced machining features such as break holes, control of ordering and direction of cut, weld preparation and micro joints, as well as verification and simulating processes. Step-by-step, forward and rewind simulation for providing true representation of machine movement.
  • Lantek Expert Advanced automatic geometry recognition for multiple parts and dynamic lead in/out positioning reduces programing times, while the new Bevel 3D Designer allows interactive irregular bevel design in 2.5D. Part cost calculation has also been enhanced with compensation for head-up/-down times and sheet load/unload times.

All of Lantek’s software now supports 3D CAD formats from Autodesk Inventor, CATIA, SOLIDWORKS, Solid Edge, Parasolid, PTC Creo, Siemens NX, and VDA. The range of supported CAD formats makes it possible to work with a 3D model, adding machining features in Lantek software.

What Is Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0, Industrie 4.0 or the so-called fourth industrial revolution is a collective term embracing a number of contemporary automation, data exchange and manufacturing technologies. It had been defined as ‘a collective term for technologies and concepts of value chain organization’ which brings together cyber-physical systems, the internet of things (IoT), and th internet of services.

Industry 4.0 facilitates the vision and execution of a “Smart Factory”. Within the modular structured Smart Factories of Industry 4.0, cyber-physical systems monitor physical processes, create a virtual copy of the physical world and make decentralized decisions. Over the Internet of Things, cyber-physical systems communicate and cooperate with each other and with humans in real time, and via the Internet of Services, both internal and cross-organizational services are offered and utilized by participants of the value chain.

Industry_4.0

Industry 4.0

The term “Industrie 4.0″ originated from a project in the high-tech strategy of the German government that promotes the digitization of manufacturing. The first industrial revolution mobilized the mechanization of production using water and steam power. The second industrial revolution introduced mass production with the help of electric power, followed by the digital revolution and the use of electronics and IT to further automate production. The fourth industrial revolution, then, is a natural outgrowth and evolution of the first three.

Characteristics for industrial production in an Industry 4.0 environment are customization of products under the conditions of highly flexible (mass-) production. The automation technology required is improved by introducing methods of self-optimization, self-configuration, self-diagnosis, cognition, and intelligent support for workers in their increasingly complex work roles.

This all looks good on paper (whatever happened to the paperless office anyway?), but some of the challenges that must be overcome for widespread Industry 4.0 to acceptance include:

  • IT security issues, which are greatly aggravated by the inherent need to open up previously closed production shops
  • Reliability and stability needed for critical machine-to-machine communication (M2M), including very short and stable latency times
  • Need to maintain the integrity of production processes
  • Need to avoid any IT snags, those would cause expensive production outages
  • Need to protect industrial knowhow (contained also in the control files for the industrial automation gear)
  • Lack of adequate skill-sets to expedite the march towards fourth industrial revolution
  • Threat of redundancy of the corporate IT department
  • General reluctance to change by stakeholders

While Industry 4.0 hasn’t really caught on yet in the U.S. (although I expect it will in a big way). A lot of companies (including Lantek) are recognizing its benefits and potential, and jumping on the bandwagon for what looks to be the next big wave in global manufacturing. Lantek’s products have features that will help companies improve efficiency, communication, cooperation and integration, and give them some essential tools for the implementation of Industry 4.0. For the U.S., Industry 4.0 is not an “if” proposition, but “when”. I suspect relatively soon.

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