How laser cutting contributes to agile manufacturing


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Even without doing the math, organizations know that it is a combination of many factors that ensures the long-lasting success of a business. While growing the more important it is to adapt to evolving markets and to respond to customer needs quickly. At the same time, keeping quality standards high and controlling the overall cost has the highest priority. Such organizations benefit from agile manufacturing. Which is also a means to develop a competitive advantage in today’s fast-moving marketplace.

However, one does not implement agile manufacturing overnight. It entails thorough evaluation of processes, the need to involve the right tools and to provide training of employees. Part of this thorough evaluation is the production process and efficiency of the equipment used. Take the cutting process for industrial applications, for instance, a laser cutter ticks all the boxes contributing to optimizing the production process; deliver faster, respond to customer needs, lower cost and maintain the highest quality.

Evaluation of the production process

It is clear what drives the need for agile manufacturing, but why would you take such rigorous measures? We mentioned the urge to respond to customer needs quickly, and those needs change over time. Customization in the automotive industry is very popular, which means the assembly of the cars is according to the wishes of the customer. Then, manufacturers must have a large variety of parts available in different materials and finishes. Having an efficient laser cutter with automation features to produce these parts is, therefore, one way to control cost and maintain quality.

It is the customer order cycle (COC), the willingness of a customer to wait for their order, which becomes shorter each day. This implies customers value quick services and they don’t want to wait too long for the delivery of their orders. They love instant gratification, which they become increasingly used to and which they are often willing to pay extra for.

Additionally, markets change very quickly, so companies should adapt quickly to these changes if they want to stay competitive. In this respect, companies must innovate and develop continuously. Losing market share is not an option.

How to start the implementation

Although agile manufacturing is the way in which processes are organized, becoming such a manufacturer is a process on its own. It involves the entire company, the collaboration between departments, the right equipment and smart sequence of operations.

Sharing databases between departments and the interaction with each other helps to accomplish this. Only then, it is possible to detect quality problems at the earliest stage in the process. Early enough to troubleshoot timely and avoid further complications.

Along with good information technologies, the analysis of workflows and detection of problem areas is a must. The purpose is to maximize customer value and keep the organization profitable and flexible enough to respond to changing needs.

How a Summa laser cutter contributes to agile manufacturing

Even though the cutting of material is only one step in the entire production process, cutting is easily overlooked in the optimization of workflows. Slow cutting equipment is obviously a delaying factor, not helping to deliver fast and qualitative.

A laser cutter is known for its speed and precision, yet there are many differences in the performance of the machines available in the market. With its top-notch, flexible laser cutters, Summa offers various contributing laser cutting solutions including the following characteristics and benefits.

  • Automation

    The laser cutters have an incorporated Vision technology, that is optional on the L1810 and standard on the L3214 laser cutter. It quickly scans the material on the cutting bed and detects the design. On the wide-format L3214 model, this Vision technology is enhanced with on-the-fly cutting, for which a cut vector will be created. You can choose to cut the entire roll without operator intervention.

  • Single-ply versus multi-ply cutting

    Summa's laser cutters are single-ply, they have some clear advantages over common multi-ply blade cutters. Overall, single-ply laser cutters produce higher processing speeds, cut more accurately and offer much more automation options in contrast to multi-ply blade cutters. Consequently, by the time each layer on the multi-ply blade cutter is prepared, the single-ply laser cutter will already have finished the job.

    Also, nesting happens a lot more efficient on the single-ply laser cutter. On a multi-ply cutter, nesting is done on the table itself. This is very cumbersome because it is done manually. Moreover, you need to keep a lot more margin between the designs. With single-ply cutters, the software automatically nests the designs. This enables to put the designs much closer to each other. Obviously, this will enhance fabric consumption and reduce fabric waste substantially.

    Considering these benefits and characteristics, for many applications single-ply laser cutting is the road to travel in the sportswear, apparel, furniture and automotive industries. Deliver customized products blistering fast and create efficient and flexible workflows. These cutters are ideal to add to the company’s agile manufacturing efforts and goals.
  • High precision

    Laser cutting is contactless, so cutting is frictionless. Because of this any shape, no matter how complicated, can be cut with ease. This also applies to sensitive and easily distorted textiles, cut them with the highest precision and without fraying by default. Supported by smart technologies relaxing the material on the conveyor bed.

  • Sealed edges

    A great advantage is that laser cutting seals the cut edges of fabrics perfectly. The material stays perfectly intact, without fraying, and is ready for the next process.

  • No tool wear

    Comparing laser cutting with blade cutting, an advantage is that laser cutting has no tool wear. You only need to install the laser beam and since it is contactless cutting, there is no tool wear involved. Means that the maintenance cost will be much lower too, thus contributing to agile manufacturing.

  • Fast processing

    Fast delivery is also one of those requirements in agile manufacturing. Summa's wide-format laser cutter, the L3214, is one of the most productive laser cutters on the market. The unique on-the-fly-cutting concept allows for continuous scanning and cutting while feeding the material segment per segment. Consequently increasing yield considerably, supporting the need to meet short customer order cycles (COC) and deliver quickly and efficiently. Ever so fast processing of typical jobs at speeds of 400 m2/hour is no exception.

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Agile manufacturing, also with Summa F Series flatbed cutting systems:

The above paper would not be complete if we would omit Summa's F Series flatbed cutting systems. Because in different applications than described before, they too contribute substantially to agile manufacturing, if only it were for their infinite versatility. A modular interchangeable tooling system and numerous features, options and add-ons to enhance automated workflows. The flatbed cutters are known for its ease of use, speed and accuracy to respond quickly and adjust efficiently to customer needs and constantly changing market trends.