Lec­tra bets big with com­pos­ite ma­te­ri­als

Auto components India - - CONTENTS - Story by: Bhar­gav TS

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

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