Additive Manufacturing is Changing the Future of the Supply Chain
With the recent buzz around how additive manufacturing will revolutionize the way products are made, what’s not heard about as much is how the technology—commonly known as 3D printing—will revolutionize the supply chain by cutting logistics costs for manufacturers small and large. The plethora of changes that additive manufacturing is set to bring about to the future of supply chains can be summarized using the same words often used to describe the technique itself and what it means for manufacturers and users. Keywords such as: accessible, customized, and consolidated are major building blocks towards the path to a new and smarter supply chain.
Experts in the manufacturing industry believe one benefit of the technology is in the freedom of fewer required components within a single product. With 3D printing, part consolidation leads to a reduction in peripherals, SKUs, and overall inventory, potentially reducing a business’ base of suppliers. With the increasing adoption of additive manufacturing, we expect consumers to move toward local supply chains- like today’s food and restaurant culture. With consumers more ecologically aware than ever, they will be naturally curious as to what distances their products have traveled to reach them, in which the answer is expected to be: not far at all.
3D printing enables manufacturers to build a micro factory with their supply chain partners that are both local and cost-effective. This type of approach greatly reduces the distances of which products travel within the supply chain. In the future, manufacturers will realize that it is both inefficient and no longer financially feasible to send products across the globe to meet customer demands when there is the alternative of designing and producing local with additive manufacturing. Not only that, but those small, distributed additive manufacturing centers will have less need for just in time inventory and for other paths to inventory reduction. They’ll simply be able to print up more products—or parts—when needed. That alone will be a huge change from today’s supply chain, a big part of which is powered by JIT.
Supply chains are set to become more local as 3D printing unlocks the potential to tailor individual products to a set of customers needs. Local buyers seeking specific products are now able to receive them from manufacturers in the area. They can also, and this is key, produce them only when needed.
Whatever the future supply chain will look like as compared to today ’s, one thing is clear, additive manufacturing will have had a hand in bringing invaluable and necessary changes.
If you are interested in exploring this solution for your organization please speak with one of our additive manufacturing experts https://goo.gl/qHnouO