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The Strategic Advantages of 3D Printing and Parcel Shipping

As customers, we often want our orders delivered today, not tomorrow, and at the destination of our choosing. And our personal experiences with e-commerce have actually influenced the way we purchase for businesses, setting the bar high for companies in the manufacturing industry and forcing them to toggle between supply chain efficiency and optimization and market resilience and risk.  This balance is difficult to achieve, and challenges typically arise on six fronts:

ebook logistyx quadrant Choosing a TMS for Parcel Shipping1. Trading Standardization for Flexibility

Today, product lifecycles are becoming shorter.  Customers increasingly demand personalized products of the best quality and at the lowest price, and they want to receive said products with lightning-fast shipping. This means today’s manufacturers must trade standardization and maximum productivity for flexibility, exclusivity, and extra services – all while maintaining their margins.  To do so successfully, manufacturers will have to leverage flexible logistics and maintain control over both internal and external flows of goods.

2. Meeting Paradoxical Conditions

The combination of fast production and delivery at the lowest cost requires manufacturers to manage contradictory tasks. To produce and deliver as efficiently as possible, manufacturers want to hold a minimum inventory of both the product and its spare parts to meet consumer demand, while also having the ability to cost-effectively scale operations to absorb sales peaks.

3.  Achieving Speed and Flexibility

To guarantee fast delivery, companies are forced to use small, frequent shipments, which is often foreign to manufacturers who traditionally rely on inexpensive, bulk shipping.  In addition, manufacturers have discovered that to meet their customers’ and supply chain partners’ demands, they must rely on a multitude of logistics partners to ensure fast, custom deliveries.

4. Avoiding Disruption

Even the smallest hiccup in supply chain logistics can have a serious impact on supply chain continuity and the company itself.  For example, has the delivery of one part for the assembly of a phone been delayed due to political tensions, a president’s tweet, a virus outbreak, flooding, or a flat tire?  This delay can cause the production process to come to a standstill – damaging the brand, upsetting customers, and influencing share prices.

5. Improving Transparency

The emergence of e-commerce and new sales platforms is rapidly transforming manufacturing companies into direct suppliers, making logistics exponentially complex. Manufacturers need a supply chain ecosystem that monitors and automatically manages a large number of variables of both in-house logistics operations as well as the operations of supply chain partners.  Therefore, having technology in place to harness and analyze real-time data is critical.   Fragmented and outdated systems that only show historical data are no longer adequate. Companies need to know what is taking place in real time, and therefore digital transformation is a must for manufacturers to achieve agility and flexibility.

6. Managing Spare Parts

Traditionally, 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.

Compete with New Technology

3D printing helps manufacturers overcome these challenges and build cost-effective, productive supply chains that operate with unprecedented flexibility.  Three key benefits of 3D printing include:

1. Reducing Transportation Costs

3D printing reduces the distance a product or spare part will travel, improving delivery times, decreasing transportation costs, and reducing carbon footprints. 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 using long distance carriers.

2. Minimizing Inventory Costs

3D printing reduces inventories and the associated capital tied up in warehousing, which is particularly beneficial for the production and storage of spare parts.  Inventory becomes digital, and the warehouse is “shelved” in favor of an on-demand production facility located near the source of need, including in facilities across the world from the original supplier.

3. 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.  This shortens product lifecycles as well as provides a faster and on-demand customer experience.

3D Printing and Parcel Shipping Technology: Game-Changing Trends in Manufacturing

The impact of 3D printing on the global structure of supply chains will be disruptive.  And when manufacturers combine 3D printing with advanced parcel shipping management, they can quickly forego their bulk shipping roots by manufacturing small volumes of products and/or spare parts on demand, and then cost-effectively ship with parcel carriers based on cost, speed, and service.  In other words, they can connect to any customer, anywhere – at a palatable price.

To learn more about how you can leverage game-changing trends in manufacturing, download the e-book: Do Nothing to Create Shipping Efficiencies, and Cost of Delivery Will Automatically Increase.

How 3D Printing is Rapidly Revolutionizing Manufacturing, Warehousing, and Logistics

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 dimanex blog

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 shipping 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

Learn:

  • 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

Watch the Recording

Manufacturing on Demand: How 3D Printing is Changing the Industry

The prediction was right: once the printing speed becomes faster, more materials become available, and the associated costs decrease, 3D printing in manufacturing is going to explode. With each passing day, vast improvements in all three categories are occurring, and we’re getting closer to that explosion.

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, in part due to the increase in materials. Historically, resin and plastics were at the forefront of 3D printing. However, metals have recently been introduced to the industry, which means even the most complex parts will no longer need to be shipped from warehouses far away. Instead, they’ll be printed in-house – thereby eliminating a lengthy supply chain.

Let’s explore how the pioneers of 3D production in manufacturing: Electrolux, Ford, and Caterpillar, have continued to push the industry forward with innovations in materials, speed, and costs.

Electrolux | 3D Print On Demand to Lower Costs

As the company moves toward “smart factories” for the production and manufacturing of its domestic appliance products, Electrolux, a Swedish domestic appliance manufacturer, is embracing 3D printing for the manufacturing of spare parts on demand.  With this initiative, Electrolux engineers are solving problems that affect both the manufacturer and the customer. For example, an on-demand service for 3D printing of spare parts lowers the manufacturer’s production, inventory, and maintenance costs once the production of the appliances has stopped, yet the appliances are still in use.  And the service also eliminates high replacement costs and long processing and shipment times for customers seeking parts for products that are no longer sold.

Ford | 3D Printed Parts Drastically Reduce Production Time

get the white paper: 7 logistics trends that will change the manufacturing industry in 2020

Always on the cutting edge of manufacturing, Ford has gone from inventing the original moving assembly line to embracing state-of-the-art technologies like 3D printing. In fact, when it comes to producing new parts, the innovation occurring in Ford’s 3D printing labs has been nothing short of extraordinary.

For example, employing traditional methods to produce part prototypes can require five months’ lead time and cost approximately $500,000; today, a 3D-printed part produced by Ford can be made in only a few days or even hours, while costing no more than a few thousand dollars.

As technology continues to advance, Ford engineers predict service dealerships may eventually have in-house 3D printers for the production of replacement parts, making repairs easier. Consumers could also take advantage of this technology — downloading modifications or accessories to completely customize their vehicles.

Caterpillar | The World’s First 3D-Printed Excavator

Caterpillar, the world’s largest construction equipment manufacturer, has a long history of 3D printing in manufacturing; in fact, CAT is one of the pioneers behind additive manufacturing (AM). The company has been printing aluminum and titanium parts for years and is now taking the technology system-wide.  Proof of their versatility in – and commitment to – the 3D printing space: their usage of 3D printing technology goes beyond rapid prototyping of parts and into never-before-seen projects like the world’s first 3D-printed excavator. 

Additionally, the Caterpillar team has shown how much the technology can contribute to heavy equipment manufacturing by actually using a 3D printed part in their new machines. Gas turbines, which have a complex, fin-like design similar to fuel mixers, are often difficult to produce through traditional casting methods.  Now, Caterpillar quickly creates them with 3D printing. The company predicts that in the years to come, the same production method will apply to most of its manufactured parts.

Think Big. Start Small. Act Fast.

When it comes to 3D printing in manufacturing, the printing of both prototypes and usable parts is already gaining traction behind-the-scenes in many major manufacturing companies.

And by combining 3-D printing with advanced 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

The players in the industry should follow the advice of Caterpillar’s Additive Manufacturing product manager, Stacey DelVecchio, who states the best strategy for manufacturers right now is to “think big, start small, and act fast.”

To learn more about 3D print and ship strategies, contact us today.

 

Manufacturing Moves Closer to the Customer: 3-D Print and Ship Strategies on the Rise

get the white paper: 7 logistics trends that will change the manufacturing industry in 2020

From dealing with anxious customers and opportunistic middlemen to managing rising inventory and shipping costs, the challenges of after-sales maintenance and repair can mount quickly. However, as Logistyx President and Chief Sales Officer Ken Fleming points out in a recent issue of Manufacturing Today, some manufacturers are beginning to discover the combination of 3D printing with sophisticated parcel shipping management can help make these aftermarket frustrations disappear. In fact, Fleming elaborates that 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

Summarizes Fleming, “Looking ahead, we can expect to see more manufacturers re-evaluating the ways they service their customers, and taking advantage of the powerful combination of 3D printing and sophisticated parcel shipping to reduce their dependency on intermediaries, ensure the right parts are being used for repairs, and maintain closer and more interactive direct relationships with their customers and partners.” Read more in Manufacturing Today:Winning Combination: 3-D Printing and Sophisticated Parcel Shipping Management.”