Digitization is the key to success of industry companies
Recently, more and more information about the digitization of business is appearing in the public space. This illustrates the growing need for industrial companies to organize production processes more efficiently. The importance and inevitability of this process is talked about not only by international experts, but also by state institutions. Digitization is one of the priority directions of Lithuania presented in the Digitization Action Plan “Lithuanian Industrial Digitization Roadmap 2019-2030” prepared by the Ministry of Economy and Innovation.
Why is the digitalization of industry so important?
Over the last five years, it has been noticed that the wage costs of manufacturing companies in Lithuania have risen by about 40%, while the productivity of the sector itself has risen by only 14%. (source: “Lithuanian Industrial Digitization Roadmap 2019-2030”). With such a rapidly growing gap between wage costs and operational productivity, there is a risk to the competitiveness of the Lithuanian manufacturing sector. Seeing such threats not only in Lithuanian industry, but also in many other developed countries, business and the state itself have made significant investments in recent years to increase productivity, and at the same time competitiveness. One of the tools is digitization.
The digitalisation of industry allows for a significant increase in productivity, a reduction in resource use at all stages of the value chain and helps to remain competitive in the international market. The implementation of business processes and other digital solutions has led to the creation of new business models, the introduction of new services or products to the market, the creation of new, high value-added specialists, jobs, etc. Digitization is becoming one of the strategic guidelines for companies to remain competitive and innovative.
In the Lithuanian Industrial Digitization Roadmap 2019-2030, the experts singled out 13 technological trends that have the greatest impact on the digitalisation of Lithuanian industry. One of these influential trends is photonics.
Laser technologies help digitize processes
Photonics, a field of science related to the generation, control or manipulation of light, is one of the key digitization technologies transforming traditional industries. Photonics technologies are used to develop new or substantially improved products or services in many areas – e.g. health, agriculture, defense, security, space, energy, etc.
Traditional methods of material processing, such as cutting, drilling, milling, turning, are still often used in mass production, although the limitations of flexibility, processing speed and quality require the search for new technological solutions. The industrial environment allows lasers to be used primarily in the fields of additive manufacturing, materials processing, photolithography, telecommunications, sensor systems and precision measurements. The implementation of laser technologies in the production chain helps to achieve greater flexibility in mass production, processing speed, quality, and reduce production costs. These are among the main goals and aspirations of the industry for digitization.
The Laser and Engineering Technologies Cluster (LITEK™) and its members are actively involved in the development and implementation of photonics-based digitization technologies. LITEK™ is one of the founders of the Lithuanian “LaserLT” Digital Innovation Center and a member of the European Photonics Digital Innovation Center “PhotonHub Europe“. “PhotonHub Europe” will start operating in 2021. in January. The centre’s main goal is to help European SMEs and mid-caps become highly competitive digital businesses through faster and smarter deployment of photonics technologies, directly creating more than 1,000 new high-tech jobs in the EU and almost € 1 billion EUR new income and venture capital by 2025.
Implementation of digital technologies in LITEK™ companies
Even the biggest innovators need to make an effort to increase their productivity and be able to offer increasingly competitive products or services to the market. LITEK™ companies are no exception. The companies of the laser and engineering technology cluster constantly use their own resources and the help of the European Structural Funds to invest in the improvement of their production processes and increase of efficiency.
JSC “Sargasas“, a member of LITEK™, specializes in the production of complex mechanical parts that are used in the field of optomechanics and scientific lasers. The company, with the help of the European Structural Funds, has already implemented a production management program that has allowed to increase labor productivity. According to Karolina Papreckytė, Export and Marketing Manager of JSC “Sargasas”, there is already a noticeable increase in work productivity, employee motivation and work speed. It is planned to update the existing production management platform in the near future in order to make it even more convenient and simpler to plan and monitor the ongoing production plan in real time. Such streamlining and availability of processes allows us to provide customers with extremely prompt and high-quality services.
In order to modernize the production base and increase productivity and efficiency, product quality and offer innovative products to the market, LITEK™ JSC “Altechna Coatings” is implementing the European Structural Funds project, which aims to expand the company’s infrastructure for the development of optical coatings and their technologies also increase the company’s sales. During the project, company plans to acquire and install advanced metrological equipment and a high-capacity automated coating system in the production process, which will ensure high quality of innovative products and expects increased productivity and reduced production costs to offer customers competitive prices. “Although the project is still ongoing, we have already accelerated our inspection of the production chain by working with a new interferometer, and in the future we hope to increase our competitiveness by installing equipment that will provide 10 times more optical elements during the production process” – Dr. Justinas Butkus, R&D project manager of JSC “Altechna Coatings”, is pleased with the results of the progress already achieved.
The member of LITEK™, JSC “Optonas” is engaged in the production of special optical components and performs coating of optical and / or other elements with interference coatings since 2009. During 11 years of operation JSC “Optonas” has accumulated a base of exceptional experience and skills that enable to offer unique products to the market: the optics produced by the company that are coated with oxide, fluoride and metal gold, silver, aluminum coatings are currently considered one of the best on the market.
Some of the equipment used in production is over 30 years old and requires constant maintenance and technological upgrades, therefore, with the support of the European Structural Funds, the company is implementing digitization projects, which will maximize automation of production process and obtain maximum product characteristics. The main tasks of the projects are the implementation of production process equipment with integrated digital technologies. “We participate in projects in order to maximize the quality of optical components, optimize and automate production processes while remaining competitive in the constantly improving laser technology market,”- says Gintas Jakubėnas, director of JSC “Optonas”.