Cutting machine manufacturer, Lectra said it had been operating with the so-called internet of things for 10 years already as the concept starts to gain momentum and acceptance in Industry 4.0 manufacturing techniques.

Using multiple sensors embedded in its leather and fabric cutting machines, Lectra's Cestas Technology Campus - as well as several call centres employing 290 staff - is able to support customers in more than 100 countries.

"When it comes to collecting data from our equipment we are capable of modifying our hardware and software - we build our own electronics," said Lectra chief marketing officer, Celine Chousset-Bedouet at the manufacturer's Automotive Leather Event at its headquarters in Bordeaux.

"Sensors embedded in our equipment are a major plus for Lectra. We have been [saying] internet of things two years ago, but Lectra has been doing that for 10 years, implementing sensors in our equipment for 10 years.

"We have 3,000 machines that are connected and deliver data in real time to customer care centres to our experts in-house, to drive efficiency and optimisation in the cutting room. We are not just a machine provider; we provide software, hardware and services."

The marketing chief also stressed the crucial nature of its "human capital", able to respond to customer needs with the right level of expertise. To that end, the French supplier has 290 call centre staff, as well as 200 business consultants and project managers.

"Where is Lectra going?" added Chousset-Bedouet. "We are testing new services with key customers in automotive for instance - several automotive customers have been involved.

"From 2017 to 2019 we will have 10% of Lectra revenue invested [in] R&D. By 2019 the R&D budget will have increased by 50%, which is huge."

From this year Lectra will gradually incorporate Software as a Service (SaaS) and the cloud, giving customers production equipment compatible with connected factory concepts.

As well as automotive, Lectra also works with furniture and apparel companies.