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News FACE TIME: Interview with Robert St. Aubin

Robert St. Aubin, president of Bystronic Americas, discusses the importance of supporting the entire manufacturing process — from engineering requirements to analytics.

Inspired Partnership

What does “passion for sheet metal” mean to Bystronic?

Bystronic has supplied machine tools to the metal fabrication industry for many years. When we talk to customers, their interest in the work is not just about earning a living. We have learned that they are very proud, and very passionate, about the products they create and how their efforts help the world to be a better place. This made us think deeply about our place in this process.

We understand that we play an important role in supporting our customers on their journey toward creating the products that truly make a difference in people’s lives. But supplying machines is not enough. The process of creating sheet metal parts must be supported from end to end. Our customers are looking for partners that can offer this level of support. Helping our customers create products that positively affect society is our true reason for being and drives our own passion.


How does a complete end-to-end solution help with efficiency, productivity and meeting customer requirements?

The world of sheet metal fabrication presents complex challenges. Companies have been required to find a way to adapt — by looking at every aspect of their business and finding ways to automate the process.

In the past, automation within metal fabrication was confused with material handling. If a laser or a press brake was loaded automatically, a company was considered to be “automated.” This, however, is no longer enough. Now the process must be automated from the very beginning.

Quoting, engineering, programming, material processing and even asset maintenance must be automated and proactive.

When considering the sheet metal manufacturing process, only changing the shape of material is productive. Any other necessary, but non-transformative process (e.g., setup, material handling, waiting in queue) simply adds cost. The key to manufacturing productivity is to reduce the amount of production lead time to the bare minimum, reducing all non-value-added processes to as close to zero as possible.

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"Machine tools must not only be efficient during their assigned process but they also must have automated setup."

What is the driving concept behind Bystronic’s end-to-end fabrication solutions?

In the past, most machine tool builders were very focused on supplying superior machine solutions for their customer’s operations. Whether their machines were bigger, faster, more powerful or simply had what they felt were superior features—they wanted to provide their customers with a particular benefit that would set them apart in a very competitive marketplace. But this is no longer enough. Now a true partner must support customers with software that supports the pre-manufacturing, manufacturing and post-manufacturing environment in an integrated and automated approach.

In addition, machine tools must not only be efficient during their assigned process, but they must have automated setup, including artificial intelligence to support all operators to achieve maximum process efficiency. As a next step, automated material handling must go hand in hand to support machines that are producing at rates that are continuously increasing. And finally, a true partner must go beyond the simple break/fix-based reactive support that has been the hallmark of our industry for the last 100 years, and progress to proactive and predictive maintenance models to reduce and in some cases even eliminate downtime in the future.


What role does Bystronic software play in these solutions?

While Bystronic, like many other suppliers in the metal fabrication industry, has provided CAD/CAM software solutions for many years, this is no longer considered enough to support a fast-paced industrial operation. Today, it is not just desirable, but required, to support our customers throughout the entire process chain. From the business and engineering requirements found in the office, to shop-floor control and analytics, Bystronic’s software plays an ever-growing role in the success our customers enjoy. And while the four main pillars of end-to-end success (software solutions, technically advanced machines, fully automated setup and material handling, and proactive and predictive service support) are critical to the success of fabricators, software is the newest and fastest growing of these. With this level of support and partnership,

Bystronic will continue to support our growing customer base and, together, continue to foster our never-ending passion for sheet metal.

As published in FFJournal

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