Digitalisation technologies will transform maritime industries on a global scale over this decade in positive and negative ways
DNV GL suggests a surge in 3D printing adoption and technology development could reduce demand for seaborne trade in its Technology Outlook 2030.
In a future supply chain, files could be sent via printing platforms instead of spare parts for printing locally. This could be potentially disruptive for supply chain participants, such as shipping companies and tax authorities.
Upsides could include shortened lead times, lifecycle and working capital cost reductions and a lower carbon footprint due to less transportation.
DNV GL forecasts that perhaps up to 85% of spare part suppliers may have incorporated 3D printing by 2030, leading to a 10% reduction in seaborne trade of semi-manufactured parts in 2040.
3D printing is set to make space-hungry centralised storage centres a thing of the past for many products, and eliminate the need for expensive distribution systems.
In the not too distant future, manufacturing may no longer be associated with warehouses filled with stacks of finished products waiting for shipment. Instead, on-demand 3D printing which requires little storage space will allow manufacturers to generate parts to order and reduce overheads by moving production closer to the intended market, shortening the length of the supply chain.
The technology is also well suited for low-volume and customised products, particularly replacement parts. Shifting this sort of work from factory floors to 3D printers would free up manufacturers to focus their time, energy and talents on other goods. What part does a digital warehouse play in this transition, where do you begin creating one, and how can industry help to pave the way?
Since ‘Industry 4.0’ became part of our vernacular at the start of the decade, many manufacturers have found themselves at a crossroads: one route continuing tried and trusted traditional factory processes, and the second route offering the challenge of fully embracing the ‘digital factory’.
For many manufacturers, staying with their traditional processes might have appeared to be the best path. After all, the processes have been fine-tuned over a hundred or more years to achieve repeatability, part durability, efficient workflows and low operational costs.
While there is an advantage to maintaining this continuity, traditional processes are also challenged by high labour costs, errors leading to less than desired time-to-market, significant up-front production costs in the form of tooling and assembly costs.
With many manufacturers facing new marketplace demands for increased speed and agility, additive manufacturing (AM) gives an opportunity to transform manufacturing workflows, reduce supply chain issues and deliver a new competitive advantage.
“Digital inventory converted into physical inventory, as and when you need it, wherever you need and in the exact quantity required, equals true on-demand production with no waste.”
In my previous column, I discussed the benefits of virtual inventories and how, by pulling parts from a digital (rather than physical) inventory and then quickly and seamlessly 3D printing these parts, supply chain efficiencies can be significantly improved.
The benefits of additive manufacturing (AM) in conjunction with virtual inventories are further demonstrated in the enablement of on-demand manufacturing – most notably with respect to batch-size. In most traditional manufacturing technologies, the minimal batch size is quite large (tens- or hundreds- of thousands, and sometimes millions of items in a single manufacturing run). Think about it – with conventional production methods, there is a large cost of switching what the line produces and therefore manufacturers typically produce in one run for current and future expected future demands. This creates a physical inventory of spare parts that may or may not be used in the future. However, this is expensive to produce, store and manage, particularly when there is no guarantee the parts will actually be used.
U.S. Bank’s latest quarterly Freight Payment Index for fourth quarter describes a positive economic environment for the U.S to end 2018 but it also points to one of a possible slow down as we progress into 2019. The U.S. Bank National Shipment and Spend Indices both increased from the third to fourth quarters, with the Spend Index increasing 7.2% to a record high. Meanwhile, the National Shipment Index rose 1.7% from the third quarter.
Indeed, despite the positive end to 2018 and midway into the first quarter of 2019, the year’s outlook is even murkier than in December when the U.S. Bank noted concern for a possible slow down this year. So many unknowns on the economic stage as one wonders the effects of additional tariffs that are expected to increase in March, the lack of UK government guidance as Brexit looms with just a month to go for the final break, China’s economic downturn and a growing concern of a global recession.
An open-access, end-to-end digital thread is bringing mass customization to mass production.
The world of making is changing, and businesses are digitally transforming from mass production to mass customization as consumers demand individualized, emotional experiences. New technologies such as 3D printing, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT) are starting to significantly impact how products or experiences are designed and manufactured. Meanwhile, social apps, Big Data, and the Cloud are creating opportunities to interact with and understand the consumer in totally new ways. So how do we bring these new data streams and technologies together to produce meaningful business insights?