Lectra bets big with composite materials
Lectra Technologies, a global leader in integrated technology solutions, is focusing on composite materials because of their wide range of advantages. The company caters mainly to 4 industry sectors: Automotive, textile, fashion and aerospace. The expensive composites find applications in the aerospace industry in the primary and secondary structural components. The company provides software, CAD/CAM equipment and services to the aerospace industry. The software provided by Lectra takes the aerospace component makers and OEMs to the next level of production.
BT Nagesh, India Subsidiary Head, Lectra Technologies India, told Auto-ComponentsIndia, that “Composites gain a major advantage in this eco system and the OEMs want to tap providers who have expertise for designing and manufacturing. We come into play here. Our experience in this industry by virtue of technical textiles, gives us the prowess in technology which we are transferring to the aerospace industry. Given the composites, we know how to design, manufacture and support, but the next part of the supply chain has to be taken care of by the OEMs. We have software products which help them in designing these products and components. This software takes them to the next level of operation and prepares them for manufacturing and what is experienced in digital has to be taken forward to reality. We have manufacturing machines and cutters which help in precision cutting and delivery.”
He said that it is a de facto standard that wherever composites play a role in component making, the company’s technology has to be touched upon. Whoever cuts aerospace components they have to imbibe the company’s design and technology. The primary or the wing structure of the aircraft and the secondary structure use composites and this helps in light weighting the structure. The composite materials used in the aircraft surges performance and in turn fuel efficiency goes up.
Cost plays a vital role in the composite industry. Industries are constantly trying to work on the cost parameters. Lectra provides design, technology and also CAD/CAM cutting equipment and these avoid redundancy in operations while maintaining safety and optimising the cost. The materials as such are expensive but give light weighting and long life.
“We are solution providers for composite materials like giving design solutions, software technology and also supporting the customers with cutting equipment and machines to convert the digital virtuality to reality. The customers expect manufacturing efficiency and long life of machines and cutting equipment. In order to increase the efficiency we insist and advise people to switch from manual cutting to automatic cutting. In today’s scenario the machines we build have no room
for error. The virtual software what we embed in the machines has intelligence to understand the sequential procedures. Our R&D works on this area and we don’t want our customer’s investment to go for a toss. We also have the capability to diagnose the problem and our service engineers reach the customer place with the solutions in hand,” Nagesh said.
Manufacturing of composites is a tough task. A lot of certifications have to be in place. There are many companies which manufacture primary and secondary structures of aircraft. Lectra can support them with the composite programmes in terms of technologies, software and machines. The machines are made in France with 40 years of expertise in machine manufacturing. The company has sales and support office in India. The knowledge and experience in composites help it to give suggestions to the customers.
According to Nagesh, it is not for the production cost and cheap labour that the OEMs come and invest here. India market offers them a great potential. Lectra started its operations 17 years ago in the country and has repeat customers who have 3 or 4 machines from it. Hence it has become necessary to have sales, service and support office in India. “In this industry more than reactive we need to be proactive and respond to the issues foreseen,” he said. The aircraft OEMs will not shift the entire base to India. Their strategy for Indian market is different. They have the set-up in India for Indian market and want to use the local talent and engineering expertise. They mainly concentrate on the military, defence and commercial sectors. But for all these, the final assembly will take place at their establishment.
Though Lectra is ready to supply composites, the automotive industry has still not touched the affordability point. “We are ready to bring synergies between aerospace and automotive industry but the composite market is not well proved in automotive owing to its expensive nature. But there are electric cars and special schemes across globe and this will push the composite needs. Till then it is just a wait and watch phase,” Nagesh said.
The aircraft manufacturing companies like Boeing and Airbus will enter into a deal or partnership with the Indian companies stating that they invest or co-invest for the development of military, civil or commercial aircraft. The projection for Indian market is more than 1000 aircraft by 2030. “When larger OEMs come and set up things we see potential and the chain continues the way. We have opened sales and service outlets in India for the offshore developments and design works. In this way we can keep up our promise and prove our expertise,” he said.
Lectra caters to industries like fashion and apparel, furniture, automotive and others. The company’s cutting edge technologies support aerospace, wind energy and other sectors. With promising path in the aerospace in the Indian market there is a lot of scope for the players like Lectra to substantiate its roots in the domestic market.
In the automotive landscape Lectra provides integrated technology for industries using soft materials like car seats, interiors and airbags. The company’s solutions have been deployed at over 23,000 clients in over 100 countries and help automate, streamline and accelerate product design, development and manufacturing processes. Lectra develops the most advanced software, cutting systems and provides associated services. It is well geared up to support the expansion of the Indian automotive industry and provide the best-in-class solutions.
BT Nagesh, India Subsidiary Head, Lectra Technologies India