3D printing technology, also known as Additive Manufacturing (AM), has quickly had a significant impact on global supply chains and the logistics industry, shortening time-to-market and significantly optimizing end-to-end supply chains. In fact, by digitzing and de-centralizing the production process as well as reducing and/or eliminating inventory requirements, 3D printing technology suddenly puts global manufacturers within reach of manufacturing “nirvana,” otherwise known as short supply chains with unprecedented flexibility.
3D Printing: Reducing Transportation Costs
One of the biggest advantages of 3D printing is that it can reduce the distance a product will travel. For example, because 3D printers create a product from start to finish, designers can design a product in one country and then email it to another country in preparation for production. There’s no requirement to create prototypes that move from factory to factory, or to move products from factory to DC. Net-net: the marketplace expands, consumer demands are quickly satisfied, transportation spend is reduced, and the environment benefits.
3D Printing: Minimizing Inventory Costs
3D printing also reduces inventories and the associated capital tied up in warehousing, which is particularly beneficial for the production and storage of spare parts. In a traditional scenario, spare parts are stored on warehouse shelves following production alongside the components used in original production assemblies. In many cases, these parts sit for years “just in case,” and an out-of-production original assembly can become fully obsolete once parts are no longer in stock, leaving owners out of luck and forcing them to reinvest in wholly new products.
With 3D printing, inventory becomes digital. The warehouse is “shelved” (pun intended!) in favor of an on-demand production facility located near the source of need, including in facilities across the world from the original supplier. Once again, the implications in logistics are substantial, reducing the time a customer waits for a part while also minimizing the carbon footprint.
3D Printing: Eliminating Batch Manufacturing
3D printing eliminates the need for tools and molds, which means production doesn’t have to be in batches to be economical. It delivers an agile development process for physical parts and has the ability to accelerate the production and the time it takes to get to market. Suddenly, product lifecycles are shortened. Product design improvements can be brought to market quickly and at a low cost, working beyond the restraints that come with traditional methods such as investing in tools or waiting first for out-of-date inventory to move.
3D Printing and Parcel Shipping: A Winning Combination for Spare Parts Manufacturing
Traditionally, manufacturers have supported the after-sales maintenance and repair of their products by either storing and shiping replacement parts from their factories or centralized warehouses, or by relying on intermediaries to stock and ship the parts.
As described above, these manufacturers typically face high inventory and labor costs not only by having to store large volumes of parts in their warehouses, but also by scrapping parts that have been sitting in the warehouse for too long. They also incur escalating long-distance shipping rates from established carriers and pay through the nose for middlemen to manage the inventory and shipping of their parts.
By combining 3-D printing with advanced parcel shipping management, manufacturers can shift the dynamics of after-sales maintenance and repair advantageously toward their business and their customers – and away from the margin-shrinking middlemen in their supply chains. In fact, savvy manufacturers are finding the combination of 3D printing and sophisticated parcel shipping management packs a powerful one-two punch that’s enabling them to:
- Significantly reduce their inventory and production costs
- Slash their shipping expenses
- Accelerate delivery times
- Provide a faster and on-demand customer experience
- Say farewell to third-party resellers, long-distance carriers, and other middlemen in their supply chains
- Shorten product lifecycles
- Reduce their carbon footprint
Re-thinking Inventories to Mitigate Supply Chain Risk
The impact of 3D printing on the global structure of supply chains will be disruptive. Case in point: a report from January 2017 by PWC predicted 3D printing would impact 85% of the spare parts providers surveyed in the next five years. To learn more about how you can leverage this game-changing trend, plan now to join our webinar in partnership with DiManEx:
Speakers: Ken Fleming, President Logistyx Technologies | Tibor van Melsem Kocsis, CEO DiManEx
Date: April 7
Time: 10:30 am EST
- How to identify parts for digital inventory and secure them with an end-to-end, distributed platform
- How a parcel shipping platform can improve agility and help you shift inventory in a cost-effective way when disruptions occur
- Real-life examples of companies that have successfully averted risks with these innovative technologies