3D printing is a useful tool to manage capacity ramp up. Companies build up capacity to meet product demand. Managing the capacity is an art form.
Most companies build up capacity with the expectation of using it in full. Yet, market demand can be a mixed bag. Demand can go up due to several factors including:
- Adoption cycle
- Product promotion
- Seasonal trends
- Trade cycles
- Marketing campaigns, etc.
- Competition strategies.
Production capacity is not easy to scale up. In traditional manufacturing, several factors of production need to go up to increase capacity. These will include machinery, assembly areas, operators and a larger factory footprint.
These resources are quite expensive. They also have long lead times. They are also fixed in nature. Which means once you build them up, it is not easy to scale back.
Should manufacturers and distributors be concerned about the introduction of three-dimensional (3D) printing in the industrial business-to-business (B2B) space? Perhaps not concerned, but mindful as to how the technology stands to disrupt traditional manufacturing and distribution business models. This includes considering how industrial companies may benefit from embracing 3D printing sooner rather than later.
According to a recent article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, major companies, such as The Home Depot, UPS and Coca-Cola, are already doing just that. For example, today many companies rely on the shipments of parts and components to conduct business—and shipping those items is the crux of the UPS business model. If those companies can print the items vs. waiting on shipments, it could spell disaster for the delivery company. Having that foresight, UPS proactively partnered with a 3D printing company to offer next-day delivery of 3D printed parts. UPS benefits from access to the new technology, while the 3D printing company benefits from access to the well-established shipment network that UPS provides.