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ECA Moves Up the Leather Value Chain With Zero-Buffer Cutting

ECA Moves Up the Leather Value Chain With Zero-Buffer Cutting
Seeking to increase their yield of leather cut parts while also reducing labour, the Belgian automotive supplier achieved hide efficiency of up to 80% following investment in Lectra’s Versalis® cutting solution.

Faster start-up and ease of engineering changes were key considerations in making the switch from die cutting to automation. Die cutter blades take weeks to produce and must be changed for each new car programme.

“Before working with Lectra, we used die cutters,” explains Lode Garmyn, Business Manager, ECA. “That was not so flexible because, for every model, you needed to have the right cutting knives.”

By adopting automated cutting, ECA 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 enabled ECA to implement automatic nesting enabling zero-buffer cutting.

“A worker cannot nest the knives as efficiently as a computer,” observes Garmyn. “Once we switched from die cutters to the first Lectra solution, we saw an improvement of 10%.”

Benchmark tests conducted at Lectra’s R&D center in Bordeaux convinced ECA of the company’s expertise and knowledge, as well as the exceptional performance of VersalisAuto. ECA reported material savings of 10% compared to their previous Lectra solution.

“When we were using the dies, we were at 60% of efficiency of hides,” recalls Garmyn. “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.”