We live in an increasingly ‘instant’ world. Instead of going to the DVD shops (or video shop, to take it back even further!), we access the movies we’d like to watch online; instead of picking up the pizzas to eat while we watch, we have them delivered to our houses via apps on our smartphones. In a world of increasingly on-demand services in the consumer realm, is a similar transformation in the pipeline for the manufacturing sector?
Akhani 3D Managing Director, David Bullock, believes that manufacturing is moving to a service-based paradigm. The following changes – enabled by technology like 3D printing – are disrupting traditional manufacturing processes:
- Production on demand
- Digital inventory
- Reduced cost of inventory
- Reduced obsolete inventory
Let’s take a look at each of these points in more detail…
Production on demand
These days, there’s a ‘growing demand for on-demand’ when it comes to manufacturing. More and more companies are looking for quick turnaround times to get their (often small batch or customised) products to market.
Thus, one of the key enablers for on-demand manufacturing is lead time. Using additive manufacturing instead of traditional manufacturing methods (such as injection moulding) requires less setup and dramatically reduces the time from brief to final product. Additive manufacturing tools and moulds improve manufacturing process efficiency significantly.
In an on-demand world, manufacturers need to be able not only to produce but also to deliver their customers’ wares as soon as possible. That’s why some manufacturers are choosing to build more, smaller localised factories rather than fewer, larger ones. According to engineering.com, Amazon is now strategically placing its warehouses so they’ll be only one day away from all their customers.
Imagine being able to sketch a design on a serviette at a restaurant, upload a picture of it, and have the product at your doorstep within a few days time. Although very few manufacturers are ‘there’ just yet, this kind of scenario is no longer far-fetched.
Additive manufacturing’s improved access to digital designs and manufacturing systems allows for the made-to-order manufacture of components and products. This ability to produce on-demand from a digital library reduces stock-holding and could potentially address a number of logistics challenges.
Reduced cost of inventory
As discussed, on-demand manufacturing enabled by additive manufacturing has a more well-developed and utilised digital component than traditional manufacturing. This means that on-demand manufacturers need less inventory and have less inventory to maintain. The reduced inventory material inputs, handling and energy consumption improve resource efficiency and reduce storage costs due to having smaller warehouses.
Reduced obsolete inventory
Using additive manufacturing allows for reduced waste and better part consolidation, thereby reducing obsolete inventory at the plant. Assemblies can be made with one component rather than several, which means that less inventory is needed for production. This simplified assembly also leads to simpler and flatter supply chains and quality assurance processes are far less onerous.
Could your company meet the needs of the on-demand customer?
The team at Akhani 3D have many years of experience in the field and are well-positioned to guide and advise you on the adoption of additive manufacturing so that you can help your customers get products to market faster. Contact us to find out more about how we can help you explore the possibilities of additive manufacturing: https://akhani3d.com/contact-us/