The logistics industry is facing a transformation – the digitization now affects every area of the industry. For many of our customers that are operating in the manufacturing industries, the spare parts logistics, for instance, is an important and in part cost-intensive aspect of the Supply Chain. So far it is fallen back on the spare parts in the warehouse thereby, but this could change fundamentally as a result of the progress of the exploration of the 3D printing technology.
Changes in the logistics industry by 3D printing
The primary task of spare-parts logistics is a liquid production process, through the provision of spare parts to ensure the lowest possible capital tie-up. These include all essential aspects of the Supply Chain: Starting from needs assessment to procurement and up to the storage of materials. A special attention is given to the spare parts logistics not only on the assurance of the demand for goods but rather on the optimization of the number of in-stock replacement parts and any additional costs incurred.
The 3D printing in the spare parts production
The vision of many automobile and truck manufacturers is a fully automated, additive production process, enabled by latest information technology. Thereby, a digital record should be created over the long term for each of (replacement) part. These records are stored centrally on a high-performance computer, to which 3D printers can access, regardless of time and place. So, if a customer orders a spare part, the printer should in the future automatically connect to the central database and access the data that is stored in a specific replacement part number. As a result, the printer can automatically start with the production of a specific component and assures this way an individualized repair process.
Mercedes Benz - A leading German truck manufacturer introduces
Since 2016 Mercedes-Benz manufactures truck plastic parts through such an additive production method. The benefits for the company are obvious: so far, thousands of spare parts had to be manufactured in a unique production by the conventional casting method, and then be stored. Often this leads to overproduction and eventually to the scrapping of the spare parts. For large companies such as Mercedes Benz LKW this stocking costs several million euros a year. 3D printing, however, allows for the implementation of the “One Piece Demand” concept, so the economic production of goods with a low number of pieces. Thereby the expensive storage of spare parts is largely abolished and excess scrapping is avoided.
3D printing – Impacts on the logistics industry
3D printing may not yet represent a mass-market alternative to the widely used casting process for products with a high number of units; the production is so far to complex. Nevertheless, the example from the trucking industry illustrates, that 3D printing can already be today for plastic products with a low circulation volume a resource-saving and cost-saving alternative to the usual spare-parts logistics. How the development of 3D printing progresses, remains to be seen. Possibly this could have the traditional spare parts logistics become even obsolete through the decentralised production possibility.
sennder is actively involved in shaping the digitization of the logistics industry
We at sennder see the automation of business processes, as well as all the digital developments, not as an obstacle but as an opportunity to actively shape and digitize the transport market. The exploration of 3D printing and the revolutionization of the spare part logistics also represent interesting events for us, because both our customers and our service providers may be affected in the future. At the same time, we continue to constantly develop our own technology, integrate it into our business processes and shape the logistics chain more transparent for our customers.