Digital inventory: How 3D Printing will decrease your supply risk to zero ?

Technical Focus | 2 March 2018

Supply chain is the result of a thin balance between offer and demand. Inventory levels are defined through a trade-off between demand, supply lead time and the level of acceptable shortage risk to minimize the overall costs. However, most of these optimized models are based on demand predictions which by essence are false.

So, what’s the worst nightmare of every supply chain manager? Of course, it’s the shortage!

Whether you are on the supply side and you suffer a loss of profit or on the demand one and feel the pain due to equipment downtime, shortages heavily impact your company.

And the traditional supply chain has such an inherent complexity that shortages happen much more than you think.

Your replenishment was planned tight and your parts are retained at customs? Your production supplier didn’t reach expected quality? Or has given priority to your competitor asking for a larger order?

The shortage directly end-up in your inability to fulfil customers demand bringing interruption of revenue stream, damaged business reputation, customer dissatisfaction and potential customer loss, penalties for contractual clauses.

But lowering the shortage risk means increasing inventory levels, resulting in costs that are not bearable. By experience, shortages can reach up to 10% of the spare parts demand!

Hopefully, Additive Manufacturing provides an alternative solution to avoid immense stocks and stock-out risk: on-demand production!

How does it work?

First, you must build-up a virtual inventory. This step shall preferably be done before an anticipation of failures, but is also possible in recovery.

Building this digital spare parts catalogue starts from reverse engineering (when needed) and encompasses the definition of raw materials and production system used, production instructions and tests for qualification.

Then, once the spares catalogue is digitalized, only remains the on-demand production. Here good industrialization and standardization of the production platforms simplify largely the work and it becomes “Plug & Print”.

Finally, add to that the ability to produce at the closest location to your factory to shorten the transportation and consequently the lead time and there you are, the perfect supply risk coverage!

Even more now, you can reduce your inventory buffer and tighten your supply chain with smaller batches of 3D printed parts.

Now you should ask “What about unit price?”.

Well, you shall read our next paper on optimization of long tails TCO!

Because Additive Manufacturing makes inventory buffering obsolete and remove any shortage issue, 30% of manufacturers think that the restructuring of supply chains will be the biggest innovation coming from widespread adoption of this technology.

Good things for thought isn’t it?!

Spare Parts 3D support manufacturers and industrial spare parts users to increase their spares availability by producing them on-demand using Additive Manufacturing.

From parts selection to parts production and delivery, SP3D proposes end-to-end solutions encompassing:

Do you want to know more? contact us!