With products becoming increasingly customised and batch sizes growing ever smaller, manufacturers need flexible and automated solutions that are capable of processing small batch sizes. Here’s how Bystronic is helping them. Article by Stephen Las Marias.
Bystronic Group is a leading global provider of high-quality solutions for the sheet metal processing business. The focus lies on the automation of the complete material and data flow of the cutting and bending process chain. Bystronic’s portfolio includes laser cutting systems, press brakes, and associated automation and software solutions. Comprehensive services round off the portfolio.
The company headquarters are located in Niederönz, Switzerland. Additional development and production locations are located in Germany, in Italy, and in China. Bystronic is actively represented by its sales and service subsidiaries in more than 30 countries and has agents in numerous other countries.
In March 2018, Bystronic expanded its existing portfolio of technologies with the acquisition of TTM Laser S.p.A, an Italian company headquartered in Cazzago San Martino, which specialises in the development of 2D and 3D laser systems for the cutting of tubes and profiles and for the welding of large-format metal sheets. TTM Laser’s tube processing technology can be applied to a host of industries, ranging from the need for precision components in steel for makers of furniture and exercise machines, to tubes to help construct the chassis of automobiles and agricultural machinery.
Bystronic completed the integration of TTM Laser into the Group last May 2019. This was marked with the opening of a new Experience Centre and the launch of a new laser cutting system ByTube 130. The 3,200-square-metre Experience Centre includes a modern showroom, in which the newest technologies for tube and profile processing will be presented. TTM Laser’s facility in Cazzago San Martino will now be Competence Centre Tube Processing of the Bystronic Group.
The new ByTube 130 is the optimal solution for sheet metal processing companies that want to expand their portfolio to include tube processing, to capture a wider market including automotive and construction industries right through to furniture, machine, and equipment manufacturers. ByTube 130’s automated system reduces the need for manual interventions to a minimum, making the entry into the field of tube processing particularly easy. At the same time, the machine covers a very wide range of requirements: Since 85 percent of the market potential lies in the small tube segment, the ByTube 130 is geared toward the processing of tubes with diameters between 10mm and 130mm. The machine has a loading capacity of 17 kilograms per meter. The 2D cutting head allows a large proportion of customer requests to be processed, since vertical cuts account for 90 percent of the market.
In an interview with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News (APMEN), Norbert Seo, senior vice president, Market Division Asia & Australia, Member of Group Management, talks about the trends he is seeing in the market, drivers for growth, and how Bystronic is helping customers address their manufacturing challenges. He also provides his insights on the Southeast Asian market, and his outlook for the metalworking industry in the coming year.
What would you say are the key competitive advantages of your company?
Norbert Seo (NS): Bystronic believes on building long-term partnerships with its customers. We believe in commitment and trust, in highest quality, in lifetime support and in local expertise. It’s crucial for our customers that their production never stops. Beside latest technologies and high-end solutions also service is a very important aspect. It is this full package that gives customers peace of mind. And this is what we have in mind when we are offering “Bystronic. Best choice”.
We are supporting our customers where they are today. We are showing them a clear vision, e.g. regarding Smart Factory, and define together with them the next steps for growth, for getting ahead in the competition, for manufacturing metal products smarter and faster than ever before. That’s Bystronic! That’s our commitment to all our customers worldwide.
What are the major drivers of growth for your company?
NS: Bystronic is always innovating, coming up with higher powered laser cutting machines in increasingly larger formats, and coming up with automation systems that helps increase productivity for our customers. As the need for quality cutting and faster turnaround increases, so do the demand for bigger, powerful, more efficient systems.
Please enumerate the top three trends in markets that you are serving, and how do these trends affect your business in terms of product development and/or manufacturing?
NS: For many customers, looking ahead to the future of their own sheet metal processing operations means: being able to adapt to fluctuating order situations; mastering cost and time pressure by applying the most efficient processes and systems available; and, positioning themselves on the competitive global or local markets with leading technologies and manufacturing solutions.
A clear trend in the markets of our customers is that big batches and mass production is getting less and less. Products are getting more customised, and batches are getting smaller and smaller. So, our customers do need solutions to produce small batches in a flexible and automated way. That is a big need, because today they have to do that manually. Therefore, flexible automation will be one of the trends in the future.
Another trend is shorter delivery times. People want their products straightway. Nobody wants to produce for stocks anymore or according to forecast, and this is even more challenging. You have to be fast and you have to be automated. Having said all these points, Bystronic is in the direction where the industry is going. We offer concepts and solutions that are very closely designed to the needs of our customers. We enable customers to fully optimize and automate their operations in multiple shifts, as well as end-to-end solutions that cover cutting, bending, material handling, plus process and data management.
When you talk to your customers, what are the biggest challenges that they usually encounter?
NS: About 80 percent of Bystronic customers in Southeast Asia are job shops, whose focus are on individual machines or automated solutions. What these job shops need is a business reliable technology and service provider that they can easily contact, and who can visit their shops at once. That is why we are focusing on strengthening our local expertise. We are talking with our customers about what is bothering them, what solutions Bystronic can develop for them, and what the next step for their production processes could be.
For job shops, the next step could be a powerful fibre laser with an automated loading and unloading solution to increase productivity. Or a fully automated material and data flow to enable virtually autonomous operation in multiple shifts. Advanced users and large metal processing companies also think in other dimensions. Here, we are talking about end-to-end solutions that cover cutting, bending, material handling, as well as process and data management—so called Smart Factory concepts.
How is your company helping your customers address these challenges issues?
NS: There is a lot of talk about Industry 4.0. However, customers do not fully understand this concept and do not yet have a precise idea of what they can achieve with this. Our answer to their demands is our vision of the smart factory.
The Smart Factory is a journey. Step by step the customer achieves the highest level of productivity; where all processes from the initial order inquiry to the delivery of the metal sheets, and right through to the shipping of the finished parts are automated and digital connected.
Most of our customers in Southeast Asia have small job shops with one laser and press break. We will guide them in this journey. It is a growth path to achieve more profit and competitiveness. We will provide suitable solutions for cutting, bending, automation and software. And we will definitely help them step-by-step on the path towards it.
What opportunities and trends are you seeing for the metalworking industry in ASEAN in the upcoming years?
NS: There is a very good reason why everyone is talking about Industry 4.0. Bigger companies and job shops are taking small but forward steps towards incorporating diverse and flexible automation systems such as loading, unloading, storage, sorting, tool changing, etc., into their manufacturing processes. It is only a matter of time before late adopters follow suit.
What is your outlook for the metalworking industry in the coming year?
NS: In general, we can see that the market is getting tougher and the reason is price issue. Normally our customers and their end-users are asking for very competitive prices. Aside from a viable machine price, the equipment must also be effective. For example, you have one hour to produce 50 parts, therefore our machine must be able to manufacture 60 or 70 parts compared to our rivals. Producing excellent products is always a challenge. For this, Bystronic provides productive machines that offer stability, speed and highest quality on the market.
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