Using digital inventories and additive manufacturing efficiently can move towards progress in the future.

FREMONT, CA: Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) face various supply chain management challenges. Spare and replacement parts are expensive to store, physical inventories have negative environmental impacts, and production schedules are challenging to manage. 3D printing, also called additive manufacturing (AM), supplants conventional methods in the industry due to its diverse complexity levels. A computer-controlled technique that creates three-dimensional objects by depositing layers of material to make smaller production batches. As a result of this method, small-batch production and on-demand production are particularly suited for this method. 

OEMs and AM will continue to integrate as manufacturing processes, and consumer demands evolve. The business will inevitably need physical inventory, but minimizing it can significantly reduce environmental impact. Working collaboratively with AM production suppliers is crucial to integrating AM into operations strategy. Taking AM requires management's understanding that it will not be realized overnight. Manufacturers must ensure that the AM suppliers are vetted before trusting them with the process. Digital inventories can benefit industries as OEMs seek smaller physical footprints for storing products.

Storage of automotive parts

Storage of product components on warehouse shelves can take up physical space. Automobile manufacturers produce mass quantities of aftermarket vehicle parts and often store them at multiple locations to meet consumer demand. Due to this projection-based manufacturing method, OEMs are likely to be left with dead or obsolete inventory. Utilizing AM as a tool for mitigating storage needs requires a proper preparation. Ensure the team chooses an AM partner with on-site machines and certified quality systems. The issue of overstocking is not just about lost revenue. Physical inventories take up valuable warehouse space and drain financial resources for facility maintenance.

Environmental factors

Materials handling and storage in warehouses emit significant amounts of carbon dioxide. 3D printing, especially with digital inventories, offers OEMs a viable solution that is more strategic and less resource-intensive. Rapid prototyping and mass production are possible with AM by converting designs into digital files. When customer requests are fulfilled in real time, print-on-demand reduces the need for long-term physical storage. Dimensional, mechanical, and cosmetic requirements differ from part to part. However, avoiding overproduction requires thoughtful preparation. Exploring renewable energy options and using sustainable resources in AM production factories is crucial.