Impact Publications : AirCargo_246
Page 26 • AIRCARGO ASIA-PACIFIC • DEC ‘16 - JANUARY 2017 3D printing – big changes lies ahead for supply chains IN the latest of its Trend Report series – 3D Printing and the Future of Supply Chains – DHL has identified potential for new links in the supply chain such as spare parts on demand solutions, product postponement services and 3D print shops. The report finds 3D printing will not become a substitute for mass production but instead a complementary process. Use of 3D printing applications is not a novelty in the logistics sector. For example, in August 2016 we reported in our daily e-news service that Panalpina had partnered with 3D printer Shape- ways to offer what Mike Wilson, Panalpina’s glob- al head of logistics described as a bid to “dramat- ically change the traditional manufacturing and logistics industries”. Panalpina is also investing in its own 3D capabilities. DHL has been testing a variety of both 3D printing hardware and techniques for several years. Matthias Heutger, senior VP for DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation said the report recognised 3D printing as a transformative technology. “However, it is not a magic bullet that will render factory mass production and manufactur- ing obsolete. Its exciting potential lies more in its capability to simplify the production of highly complex and customisable products and spare parts. “This could bring logistics and manufacturing closer together than ever before.” The report notes that factors currently limiting more widespread adoption of 3D printing include lack of management knowledge, economic and technological issues. Many printers can use only one material and costs are still high for industri- al-grade 3D printers. As well as facing warranty, liability and intel- lectual property issues, 3D printing needs to become faster, more agile and more advanced before it can become a core production technol- ogy. The report points out that not all products should, can or will be 3D-printed. But the scope for development is huge. It highlights opportunities for companies to team up with logistics providers offering 3D printing. Individualised direct part manufacturing and product postponement services, both led by customer demand for individualised products, could see manufac- turing and assembly divided into stages with regional or locally located printers involved in the final production. Both would require completely new supply chain strategies. A major focus for end-of-runway services are sector-specific service offerings and integrated return and repair services; printing could be leveraged to enable fast production and dispatch of parts, the report contends. This would be invaluable to the energy, engineering and manufacturing sec- tors and could also improve warranty repair operations in the consumer sector. Spare parts on demand could involve logistics companies in the supply chain in a revolutionary new way by printing the parts enroute to delivering them to the customer. “As manufacturers adapt their production processes, new opportunities and challenges to the supply chain will be created,” said Heutger.