Belgian automotive supplier, ECA says it has achieved hide efficiency of up to 80% using Lectra's Versalis cutting solution.

ECA changed from die cutting to automation, with the former process necessitating cutter blades taking weeks to produce and having to be changed for each new car programme.

"Before working with Lectra, we used die cutters," said ECA business manager, Lode Garmyn. "That was not so flexible because, for every model, you needed to have the right cutting knives."

By adopting automated cutting, ECA adds it "significantly scaled back start-up time while also eliminating OEM tooling costs," making the firm more attractive to its customers.

The automated Lectra leather cutting system also allowed ECA to implement automatic nesting enabling zero-buffer cutting. "A worker cannot nest the knives as efficiently as a computer," noted Garmyn.

"Once we switched from die cutters to the first Lectra solution, we saw an improvement of 10%. When we were using the dies, we were at 60% of efficiency of hides.

"Now we've increased that to 70% to 80%. On the manpower side, we see that Versalis allows for a higher output with the same personnel. ECA is now moving from labour-intensive to technology-intensive processes."

Field engineers make regular visits to the premises, while technical experts have improved overall efficiency by recommending training to develop proficiency in Lectra software usage and hide marking.

"Between the first Lectra solution and the Versalis, we saw another 4% to 6% improvement," said Garmyn.

"Once Lectra's experts assessed our cutting room processes, we gained another 8% to 10% in material usage."