An LVD’s senior executive shares with us insights about the major trends shaping the global and Indian sheet metalworking industry.
Recently, DMI had the opportunity to interact with LVD’s Global Business Development Director, Stefaan Lips at an industry event organized by the company. LVD is a leading global manufacturer and solutions provider of sheet metalworking equipment. The company, headquartered in Gullegem, Belgium has been serving the Indian market through its offerings since the early 70s and through its dedicated sales and service subsidiary located in Bengaluru since 2014. Following are edited excerpts of the interview that contains industry insights that Mr Lips shared with DMI.
Can you share with us a timeline or history of your presence in India, and how you have grown over the years?
We installed the first LVD machine in India in 1973 and have since delivered hundreds more. Over the years, we’ve remained dedicated to this market, and through the assistance of various local partners and sales agents, have developed a solid customer base. In 2014, we opened a subsidiary office in Bangalore. We made this investment in keeping with our corporate strategy to establish strong local sales and service support, which we believe to be critical for our growth and long-term market success. LVD considers it essential that customers have direct access to LVD sales and service staff. We believe that ultimately the success of an installation is a combination of high-quality products and a close collaboration between the manufacturer and the end user. Close communication channels are needed to provide customers with a fast and accurate response. Through our dedicated subsidiary, we are able to deliver on that.
What are the different industries you serve in India and the types of products or services you provide to these industries?
LVD serves a wide range of industries in India and around the world. The common denominator of these industries is sheet metal. In India, we have a broad scope of users from telecom companies using our laser cutting, bending and punching machines for light metal fabrication to customers with our heavy-duty lasers and press brakes involved in railway or infrastructure work.
Our core products in laser cutting, punching, bending and software technology are used in:
- Transportation • Industrial and commercial machinery • Defence • Food and catering equipment – such as cooker hoods and stainless-steel kitchen equipment • Construction – such as excavators and telescopic cranes • XXL projects – renewables – wind power – lighting poles
• Agricultural equipment • Subcontract fabricated metal products • Electronic equipment • Medical and scientific • Commercial and domestic appliances • Steel service centres
For customers serving these markets, we offer laser cutting equipment for flat sheet processing and for tube cutting; hydraulic and electric press brakes; turret, single-head and electric-drive punch presses and a complete suite of software products that integrates these processes in keeping with the principles of Industry 4.0. We also provide custom press brakes, automation and robotized bending technology. In fact, our product portfolio is one of the most comprehensive.
What are some of the most recent offerings that LVD has contributed to the sheet metalworking industry?
As a company with a long history of innovation, our fundamental focus is to bring new products to market. We are always looking to solve our customers’ problems and to add value. Last year at the EuroBLECH show we highlighted flexible automation solutions and cell manufacturing and introduced a number of new products, including:
- ToolCell XT, an automated tool changing press brake with extended tool storage capacity which holds 50% more tooling than our original ToolCell. ToolCell XT offers more flexibility to tackle a wider scope of bending jobs – small batches, a high part mix and increased part complexity.
- Dyna-Cell, a compact robotic bending cell featuring a high-speed electric press brake. The cell combines our Dyna-Press Pro 40-ton press brake with 1500 mm working length and five-axis backgauge with a Kuka industrial robot to deliver maximum bending productivity in a small footprint of 5 m x 5 m.
- Electra 3015-FL, our ultra-high-speed fiber laser cutting machine now features a 10-kW laser source to cut a wide range of ferrous and non-ferrous materials as fast as the thermal process allows without dynamic compromise.
- TL 2665-FL, tube laser cutting machine made its European debut at EuroBLECH. The TL 2665-FL efficiently processes round, rectangular, square or other standard tube profiles up to 7925 mm long in a range of materials and at optimal speeds using a 2kW Fanuc fiber laser.
In addition, as the trend toward digitalization and smart manufacturing advances, we continue to drive the factory of the future forward with our integration philosophy, Industry 4.0-ready products and CADMAN® software suite.
Where in India do you have sales or distribution facilities and what are the expansion plans?
The LVD office and demonstration centre is located in Bangalore. From this central headquarters, we manage all sales and service operations in India. India continues to be a fast-growing economy, and we have plans to expand our presence in the Indian marketplace using a phased approach, but are not in a position to reveal those plans just yet. We see the outlook for India as positive, and we’re excited to be part of that growth story.
What are the major trends you see in the sheet metalworking industry – in India and globally?
From a local and global perspective, we see several factors influencing the sheet metalworking industry. Most notable is the shortage of skilled labour, the shift toward small batch, short lead time manufacturing, and the growing interest in automation.
The shortage of skilled labour is not a new trend, but it’s becoming more impactful around the world. The traditional skills found on the workshop floor are no longer. To address this, LVD’s strategy is to engineer sheet metalworking knowledge and intelligence into our machine controls, like our Touch Series controllers with an icon-driven graphics interface, and couple this with more robust software solutions (CAM processing and MES planning with LVD’s CADMAN software suite). In so doing, we make it fast and simple to operate LVD machines. So, regardless of the operator’s skill level, our customers can maximize their equipment investment.
The “small batch – short lead time” manufacturing culture is transforming the fabrica-ting industry and is increasingly commonplace. OEMs and subcontractors alike need manufacturing processes with better process flows from “art to part.” The key is to import a CAD model, develop the CAM solution and machine programs / set up files, plan the most efficient manufacturing process flow and use “big data” to manage the process in real-time. In this way, fabricators can ensure the most cost-effective production process and the lowest cost per part. For the past 15 years, LVD has transformed its product range to suit the small batch, short lead time manufacturing culture via flexible machines and process integration. For example, our ToolCell automatic tool changing press brake was specifically designed to address the need to process small batches with short lead times.
In India especially, we see a trend toward more automation. This trend is not just about automation for the sake of lean manufacturing; it is automation to secure consistency in product quality and in operations. An example of this is our Easy-Form® Laser (EFL) in-process angle monitoring and correction system on our Easy-Form press brake. EFL adapts the ram position in real-time to ensure the desired angle from the first bending operation. EFL does this automatically, without interrupting the bending process or losing production time.
Looking forward can you share with us your five-year plan for the Indian market?
Our plan for India is simple – it’s to continue to grow our presence in this market. India is a strong manufacturing hub and we expect that it will increase in importance in the years to come. Our goal is to reinforce our position as a key sheet metal fabrication equipment supplier by providing integrated high-tech fabrication solutions backed by solid customer service support. The two go hand in hand. In our planning for India, we put a high value on investing in the staff and systems that will help us deliver a high level of customer service. LVD is a global business but we are also family-owned and, as such, we know that behind the technology is our most important resource – our people.
You have organized today a user forum for your clients. Are we going to see such events in different regions?
We hold a number of customer-specific events at our corporate office in Belgium, some specifically targeted to Indian customers. Last year, we held an exclusive event for companies handling heavy-duty, extra-large bending profiles as we launched advanced XXL bending technology specific to that sector. We also hosted a number of software technology seminars to help educate fabricators about Industry 4.0 and the digital transformation of the workshop. In India, we plan additional Industry 4.0 workshops in our Bangalore office. We see genuine value in conducting these events. They keep us close to our customers so that we can develop solutions they need.