Additive manufacturing is currently booming and spreading rapidly across many verticals in the manufacturing space. To unleash its full potential, you must successfully integrate 3D printing technologies into existing production processes. But without a comprehensive platform to manage your AM production process, this is virtually impossible.
You may already be deploying 3D printing in some capacity, creating ad-hoc operation processes and systems as new challenges arise. If so, you are surely relying on email, phone calls, or Google Docs to manage your AM processes - such as tracking the production status - which might have worked well enough to date. But what happens when you need to scale up your AM production? To take full advantage of these revolutionary technologies, you'll need a better way to simplify and streamline your process across all departments and locations.
Mapping and connecting the different organizations involved in AM in your company will allow you to maximize existing resources, scale up your additive production as needed, and reduce costs as you expand your operations.
Read on to learn how.
Demystify Your Internal Resources
AM's main values derive from its capacity to provide parts on demand, eliminating the need to store hundreds or thousands of spare parts, and to provide speed and cost savings when it comes to prototyping. Many large companies have built a global network of AM production shops and experts within the company. However, it’s hard to realize the benefit of the investments in AM machines and competence buildup - particularly when spread across multiple worksites. Because the staff in many organizations are unaware of the resources available internally within their company, they often outsource the production of parts, unwittingly slowing down production and complicating the process.
A software solution that is accessible to every employee, can map and display precisely what AM resources are available internally. Such a system would allow employees to identify and request the services of a design team, a prototype builder, or engineers, eradicating a significant source of inefficiency that hampers AM adoption in many operations.
Replace Silos with Structure and Collaboration
Even when staff are well-informed about available internal resources, inefficiencies can still arise as there are so many cogs in the additive production wheel. Information can be readily miscommunicated and wires crossed. Commonly, separate departments within organizations operate in silos where each department is laser-focused on their work without fully appreciating the big picture. A recent McKinsey study estimates that enhanced digital collaboration in the manufacturing sphere has the potential to unlock more than $100 billion in value due to the inevitable spike in productivity and efficiency this will cause. Additive processes are not spared from such inefficiencies, and often even suffer from them even more due to the manual and disconnected processes adopted by different organizations within the company.
Enter the system that provides full visibility throughout the entire company-internal production process from design to procurement to manufacturing. Such a system enhances transparency and fosters seamless collaboration throughout the organization. A streamlined digital workflow avoids the errors introduced by manual practices (such as data re-entry across systems) and is also more agile and responsive to real-time demands, allowing for quick and successful scaling when the opportunity arises.
Be More Cost-Effective
In today's fast-paced business environment, tasks are often urgent and require instant attention. In an effort to complete tasks quickly, poor strategic decisions can be made. According to E&Y, 26% of OEMs outsource at least part of their 3D printing production to external vendors. Decision-makers may not realize that outsourcing, while a convenient quick-fix, is often more costly than using existing internal resources. In those cases where external service providers are used because employees don’t realize there are internal resources available, a double loss is incurred. Companies must foot the bill for external providers and let the existing internal resource go underutilized.
There is a need for a comprehensive system that provides a holistic view of all of the company's resources: who is responsible for them, who has access to them, where they are located. Such a system will ensure that resources are used effectively and efficiently. The continuous communication, visibility, and traceability throughout the AM process introduced by such a system will further increase outputs and decrease costs - benefits that can be rolled out to your delighted customers.
One For All: A Unified System
While mapping the company internal network of AM users provides a clear picture of all of the resources within the company, there will be cases when collaboration with external service providers is required - either because no internal resources exist or to legitimately save time or costs. A single system that can manage both internal and external resources is a boon to manufacturers as it encourages collaboration and simplifies the whole process. Managing an ecosystem of designers, buyers, product-owners, experts, and suppliers - both internal and external is no simple matter and can even result in serious security breaches. With increased complexity, there is always increased room for error and inefficacy. A unified AM management system will prevent these errors and allow you to scale up with peace of mind, easily collaborating with all service providers and giving your customers competitive pricing and fast, streamlined service.
If you are not currently taking advantage of all the AM resources available to you in your company, you likely are not maximizing your internal resources and leaving profit on the table.
Ready to connect all your company AM teams and resources, streamline your additive manufacturing and boost profit? Learn more about Siemens’ AM Network HERE.