BySoft Insight work center console on tablet

News Connecting the Dots

Planning and collaboration is the key to end-to-end digitalization

As sheet metal fabricators transform their business to address increasing demands for precision, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness, advanced software solutions are on the market to minimize waste, maximize productivity, and streamline operations. BySoft Suite by Bystronic is a software ecosystem that connects shop operations internally as well as to suppliers and customers.

In addition to providing software, Bystronic manufactures laser cutting and press brake equipment. The company, which has a demonstration, sales and training center in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, offers a digital transformation guide for fabricators looking to remain competitive by digitalizing their business from end to end.

“From the moment a customer submits a request for a quote to the delivery of the finished product, the metal fabrication process is a complex web of interconnected stages,” explains Adria Haines, regional head of Smart Factory Solutions. BySoft Suite offers software modules that play a specific role at various points along this journey from the quotation process and the start of the production order to the synchronization of the shop floor and through the delivery and invoicing of the customer.

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BySoft Suite Workflow chart

BySoft Suite offers digital insights into business from quote to delivery.

“These modules help fabricators achieve a more streamlined and efficient workflow,” says Haines, who lists steps for fabricators to follow to start to leverage their software solutions.

  • Assess your organization’s existing technology, processes, and capabilities. Identify areas that need improvement or modernization.
  • Set clear and measurable goals that align with your organization’s overall strategic objectives.
  • Create a roadmap outlining the steps, timeline, and resources required to achieve your goals.
  • Gain buy-in from key decision-makers. Communicate the benefits of digital transformation and how it aligns with the company’s vision.
  • Assemble a cross-functional team to oversee and implement the digital transformation initiative.
  • Partner with a turnkey software provider for metal fabrication that offers ERP, CAD/CAM, and MES solutions, consultation, and integration services.

"The metal fabrication process is a complex web of interconnected stages."

Adria Haines, Bystronic Inc.

Identify Pain Points

Part of the assessment of a fabricator’s operations should include a physical walk-through of the process a job follows at the facility. Haines advises fabricators to follow a job from start to finish, taking pictures and videos along the way. “Even if you have standard operations identified, chances are they are not being followed as you believed,” she says.

Haines also encourages fabricators to evaluate existing workflows and identify areas that are manual, repetitive, or prone to errors. Determine bottlenecks and inefficiencies that could benefit from digitalization and automation. Once these pain points have been identified, Haines suggests fabricators break down their digital transformation roadmap into smaller, manageable projects. “Then prioritize projects based on their impact and feasibility,” she adds.

Front End Process

Bystronic places an emphasis on digitizing the front end of a project’s workflow. “Efficiency gains at the front end of the fabrication process are instrumental in reducing total order turnaround time,” notes Haines. Document management and accessibility can be streamlined when production documents are digitized. Electronic documentation can include order details, purchase orders, invoices, and shipping labels. “Once these documents are digitalized, fabricators can bid farewell to lost documents,” she continues. Through BySoft Suite, customers can submit orders electronically and digital reports can be shared with key stakeholders.

Once key documents have been digitized, Haines recommends performing a comprehensive analysis of total cycle time at each stage of the order process.

“By looking at these metrics, fabricators can identify where improvements can be made to enhance efficiencies,” explains Haines. All time should be considered, including order entry, production planning, engineering, and programming, for the sake of accurately measuring turnaround times. “By streamlining processes, fabricators can reduce cycle times and enhance competitiveness,” she adds.

Machine Cycle Time

Monitoring the cycle times on each piece of equipment can also influence shop floor productivity. According to Frank Arteaga, Bystronic’s North America regional director for marketing, efficient material automation is key to maintaining machine cycle times.

“Without well-organized material automation systems, investments in faster machines may not yield the desired cost-effectiveness. While newer machines offer enhanced productivity, their efficiency relies on efficient material handling,” says Arteaga. Material automation helps fabricators ensure that materials are available as orders are transmitted to machines, minimizing non-productive waiting times and optimizing machine cycle times.

Bystronic BySoft Suite software loop showing workflow

BySoft Suite integrates with third-party providers for enhanced continuous improvement on the shop floor.

Holistic Approach

BySoft Suite integrates with systems and machines from Bystronic as well as those from third-party providers. “Achieving efficiency and competitiveness in today’s fast-paced metal fabrication industry requires a holistic approach that leverages advanced software solutions,” explains Arteaga. He cites the collaborative power of key systems commonly deployed by fabricators: Enterprise resource planning, manufacturing execution system, and CAD/CAM. “Collectively these systems create a comprehensive and efficient solution to navigate the complexities of the industry with agility and accuracy, resulting in a complete end-to-end solution for fabricators,” Arteaga adds.

“The integration of ERP and MES software systems can streamline incoming orders and facilitate agile responses to changing production requirements, ensuring that orders are efficiently processed from inception to completion,” Haines says.

MES software, such as Bystronic’s BySoft Shop Floor, provides the ability to plan, monitor, and track all active jobs and machine workloads in real-time and make informed decisions. “Digitalization and automation technologies enable fabricators to reduce order entry times into ERP systems, allocate raw materials efficiently, and streamline engineering and programming processes, ultimately reducing order cycle times,” explains Haines. “Efficiency in the order cycle is essential for maintaining competitiveness.”

As the metal fabrication industry continues to evolve software solutions will remain at the forefront of innovation. “Fabricators who embrace these technologies and focus on streamlining their processes will not only survive but thrive in an increasingly competitive landscape. The future of metal fabrication is digital, automated, and efficient,” says Haines.

Published in FFJournal, May 2024 Issue
By Adria Haines, Regional Head of Smart Factory Solutions, Bystronic Inc.
By Frank Arteaga, Regional Director Marketing, Bystronic Inc.

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