What does Porsche have in common with furniture manufacturers? A need for speed

What does Porsche have in common with furniture manufacturers? A need for speed

ATLANTA — Profitability, on-demand production and Porsche were at the top of the discussion list when technology solutions provider Lectra invited a group of furniture manufacturers and representatives from the automotive giant to company headquarters for an invitation-only event earlier this summer.

Created to highlight Lectra’s Valia Furniture digital platform, the event offered in-depth information about Valia and the platform’s capacity to increase customization production speed to market, along with an in-person testimonial from Porsche representatives discussing the potential and power of digital transformation. The unique automotive-meets-furniture approach supported Lectra’s strategy of helping manufacturers grow through technological advances and culminated with a ride in a Porsche at evening’s end.

“The way Simon (Tabke) and Michael (Kopacko) presented Porsche’s Industry 4.0 journey was extremely relatable to our customers in the furniture industry,” said Lenny Marano, president of the Americas at Lectra. “There are real similarities in the challenges faced by Porsche before digitalizing their process to what our customers see in their own factories. Presenting those challenges, their approach to implementation, and the results they ultimately achieved in a very practical way helps alleviate the fear of change some may be experiencing.

“Being able to ride in a Porche and experience the power of the brand helps build inspiration, a critical part of transformation especially when it comes to moving from traditional to digital,” he said. “So giving our customers a chance to see the beauty and power of a brand that has made the Industry 4.0 transformation was key to build inspiration.”

Lectra’s Valia platform connects a manufacturer’s IT system and the cutting room, enhancing planning, cutting and optimization processes. Data on products, materials, and orders are maintained on the Valia platform, as are connectors to ERP, MIS, and CRM systems and applications, allowing manufacturers to support on-demand customization through complex production planning and optimizing cost per piece.

Keith Nichols, vice president of manufacturing at Century Furniture, attended the event. Nichols noted that the Century factories use top-spin cutting machines, the Diamino Nesting System, and the Formaris CAD System and that the company is considering adding Furniture on Demand, including the Virga cutting machine and the Valia Digital Platform.

“Lectra’s new offerings are far more than just cutting machines,” Nichols said. “They are systems that offer opportunities for system integration beyond the cutting room floor. These system integrations are important as we explore Industry 4.0 concepts and how they can be used to complement our hand-crafted manufacturing model.”

From traditionalists to pioneers

Tabke and Kopacko discussed some of the challenges Porsche faced when integrating new digital tools in the automotive giant’s own factories. The duo encouraged manufacturers to start the process with a “smart factory vision.”

“Your journey towards a Smart Factory starts with you, the leadership team,” Kopacko said. “As leaders, you need to start with a vision for the future of your production that fits your customers’ needs and the culture of your company. From there, start breaking down how the vision transforms your processes and identify solutions that can achieve that vision. Whatever you do, make sure that your action gets you one step closer to your vision, that the solution has a measurable and ROI-positive impact, that you scale it and that you have clear owners in place and an organization to support them.”

Kopacko and Tabke provided an overview of different stages of a company’s journey to digital transformation, noting differences between early stage “traditionalists” who have no automation legacy or cost to distract them from a new operational norm, middle stage “newcomers” who have some automation but likely an “incohesive landscape of technology and no holistic strategy for the transformation,” and advanced stage “pioneers” who have the organization and culture in place to drive improvements but no holistic vision of their Smart Factory.

Marano explained that newcomers to Industry 4.0 often face unique challenges since one goal includes transitioning an “old” automation process to a new digitized, automated and integrated process.

Porsche representatives shared insights from the company’s digital transformation with attendees.

“Usually if they will begin to map their old processes to the new process, then it is easier to understand the new path and see the steps necessary to move forward,” said Marano. “This is why Lectra often offers an assessment along with a ROI so we can help them prioritize their focus and have a beginning plan to move forward.”

Nichols said that Lectra cutting machines help Century Furniture achieve the best yields possible and improve accuracy. He added that the juxtaposition of Porsche’s experience with furniture factories provided valuable insight.

“The highlight of the event for me was getting a deeper look into the new product offerings from Lectra,” Nichols said. “The ability to see the machines work and ask questions were critical as we explore what tomorrow’s cutting room floor may look like.

“The Porsche consultants presentation about Porsche’s journey and transformation was very informative and thought provoking,” Nichols concluded. “Even though we are in very different industries, the challenges that Porsche faces have similarities to our challenges. It is always inspiring to hear how challenges get turned into successes.”

See also:

  • Here’s why Lectra expanded its services to Mexico to support furniture manufacturers 
  • Lectra expands furniture on demand solution, adds new generation of cutting equipment 

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