Introducing the 3DP-RDM Feasibility Studies: Driving Innovation in Redistributed Manufacturing

Following the recent feasibility study competition, the 3DP-RDM network is funding four projects in 2016. In this series of blog posts we introduce the four studies. Today we introduce the first study, “Driving Innovation in Redistributed Manufacturing: A Comparative Study in the British and Italian Motorsport Valleys”, which is being led by Dr Paolo Aversa at City University London, and Sebastiano Massaro at Warwick University, in collaboration with Prof. Gianni Lorenzoni at the University of Bologna.

The motorsport industry – with its peak being Formula 1 – is one of the leading sectors involved in the additive manufacturing landscape. In the UK and Italy alone, two leading players in the sector, the motorsport sector boasts an annual turnover of over £9bn thus representing a major source of value to the national economies. This sector is fundamental for European competitiveness, in particular with both the UK and Italy being key strategic players. Not only do these two countries host iconic motorsport clusters, in which several original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and highly technological suppliers are located (e.g., Ferrari, Ducati, Maserati; Aston Martin, Jaguar, McLaren, Williams), but they are also at the forefront of manufacturing innovation. Since the early 1990’s, motorsport companies in these countries have pioneered additive manufacturing, which in turn has been transferred to the automotive sector (the biggest industry in Europe), and other sectors such as public transportation, healthcare, and aerospace.

Yet, the increasing affordability of such technologies has recently triggered a widespread diffusion across the entire motorsport ecosystem, both at OEM and suppliers’ levels. This, in turn, has redistributed manufacturing activities, changed behavioural strategies of firms, and introduced novel forms of business models. For one, special-shape mould production was mostly carried out by “hand crafting”—representing a complex and time-consuming activity that OEMs often outsourced to specialised suppliers. However, 3D printing has allowed OEMs to bring this activity back in house, thus pushing the specialised suppliers to rethink their core competences or to innovate their business models to make their business sustainable.

These frequent core-periphery manufacturing shifts are worth careful investigation for practical and theoretical reasons. Practically, they are actively shaping the development of one of the most vibrant industries in international manufacturing; theoretically, they offer a timely opportunity to investigate dynamics at the multidisciplinary intersection between business model innovation, behavioural strategies, and redistributed manufacturing, also generalisable to other manufacturing industries.

The purpose of this study is to investigate this manufacturing redistribution phenomenon in the British and Italian motorsport clusters. We will specifically focus on better our understanding of: (1) capabilities development at the OEM and supplier level; (2) behavioural strategies; (3) emergence of new business models.

These goals will be achieved in two phases. Following a literature review, in the first phase, we will survey motorsport firms to explore the main trends connected to the adoption of 3D printing-based manufacturing. In the second phase, we will sample OEM and suppliers in both the Italian and UK motor valleys to conduct on-site interviews, data collection, and direct observations with the companies’ executives. Finally, data will be analysed and integrated with a mixed method approach.

This research will help policy makers understand the fine-grained dynamics that are shaping one of the leading manufacturing industries in UK and Italy. We will identify best practices in 3D-based business modelling, and develop general recommendations that will support competitiveness, innovation and sustainability in other sectors. Ultimately, we will understand how to improve relational governance in manufacturing redistribution between OEMs and suppliers.

About the researchers

Dr Paolo Aversa is a Lecturer in Strategy at Cass Business School and a leading academic in the business of automotive, motorsport and Formula 1. His research globally informs policy makers, managers, and leaders through top publications, consulting, education, and international media engagement and has received several awards.

Dr Sebastiano Massaro is an Assistant Professor at Warwick Business School and Deputy Lead of the Global Research Priority in Behavioural Science at Warwick University. His research, among other areas, focuses on behavioural strategies in complex decision-making scenarios.

This project is developed in close collaboration with Prof. Gianni Lorenzoni, Emeritus Professor of Strategy and Behavioural Decision Making at the University of Bologna, Italy.

For further information about this project please contact Paolo and Sebastiano.

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