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Newton.Vaureal Consulting - Logistics and Supply Chain Management - Paris
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3D printer

3D printing: a major disruption of logistics flow?

This technology has delayed-differentiation consequences at the highest level – right through to the end user. With 3D printing, Supply Chains simply apply the principles of MTO (Make-To-Order) – thus removing those risks linked to stock (out-of-stock, obsolescence etc.) and their associated cost. Gone are the 300,000 references to spare parts managed by some distributors – in their place is a good 3D printer and a parts’ database production plan …  if this is even partly true, the complexity of managing a Supply Chain relativizes this revolution.

Last-minute production, differentiation delay and made-to-order are existing and proven concepts. Moreover, production-cycle times do not justify availability delays (a few minutes production … for several weeks’ delay).

A reinvented logistics chain

If the arrival of 3D printers is a revolution in itself, it does not mean the end of Supply Chain but rather its reorganization – moving from a centralized production model to a model favouring decentralized production. We organize:

  • The typology of flows and identification of those that could be “printable”.
  • The supply of “consumables” from printer to production quality control.
  • Maintenance of these mini-production lines.
  • Industrial methods to guarantee the integrity of the production-plan database.

We assess, manage and adapt to demand.

Which 3D printer Supply Chain model?

The studies we have carried out (in a variety of industry environments) reveal proven models that have demonstrated their worth and enable us to take best advantage of this innovation. But gains in flexibility, stock management and reactivity are only real if the Supply Chain is able to guarantee the “instantaneous” and permanent production capacity of these printers through correct planning of their use, supply and maintenance.

Supply Chain allows for necessary product-quality checks (notably for automotive or aeronautical spare parts) as well as for the production conformity of a part ordered. In contrast, in a BtoC environment, an individual 3D printer is a backup tool for Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) or FMCG that simply require an implementation plan and not a specific production standard to be met. Here Supply Chain is focused on the supply and exchange of printing consumables in order that equipment can function permanently and the provision of supplementary accessories to parts produced on site.