Tag Archives: supply chain

New report: Driving Innovation in redistributed manufacturing

The final project report from the feasibility study led by Dr Paolo Aversa at Cass Business School and Dr Sebastiano Massaro at Warwick Business School is now online. “Driving Innovation in redistributed manufacturing: A feasibility study in the motorsport industry” describes results of their work undertaken during 2016. The results of this project were presented at the 3DP-RDM event 3D Printing Where and How on 31st January 2017 at the IfM in Cambridge. More information about their project can be found on their project website.

Executive summary

Paolo Aversa and Sebastiano Massaro

This feasibility study investigates the level of adoption of additive manufacturing (AM) technology in the British motorsport industry and to what extent this is being employed for competitive advantage. The themes of redistributive manufacturing and technological innovation are explored to understand how, and to what extent, the British motorsport industry has aligned itself to AM technology. AM has been described in recent media as a panacea, a solution for all manufacturing problems, disrupting conventional manufacturing techniques with its potential to create geometrically complex products in any location.

Investigating these themes involved collecting primary data through (1) a quantitative survey of manufacturing companies involved in British motorsport, and (2) a series of qualitative interviews with experts in the field.

Where the main benefits of AM revolved around the production of structurally complex parts and reduction in production lead time, findings from the survey reveal that AM does not fully satisfy production needs. In combination with the need to recruit additional skilled labour, results suggest that the benefits of employing AM do not currently outweigh the overall costs. On the behavioural side we found that those managers and executives who are more keen in adapting AM are overall higher in risk-taking.

Our interviewees perceive that AM technology will continue to proliferate through the British (and Italian) motorsport supply chain, supplanting conventional techniques for the manufacture of low-volume and complex parts. The close proximity of specialist manufacturers to race-teams in the British motorsport valley® cluster is perceived to prohibit any notable redistributive manufacturing but has demanded agility from those suppliers in response to the reduced development cycles that AM facilitates. As innovations in materials, processes and hardware continue to overcome challenges with reliability, integrity and cost of AM products, a new generation of university graduates are expected to be educated in the true value of AM, designing for use and championing the technology as a viable and crucial augmentation to existing conventional manufacturing techniques.

In summary, the benefits of AM processes are ingrained throughout the motorsport supply chain which has adapted, rather than re-configured, to accept these advanced techniques. The future of AM will be secured by innovations that remove physical limitations, giving way to an industry that will benefit from a hybridisation between conventional and AM technologies.

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Energy Resilient Manufacturing

The deadline for the submission of Expressions of Interest to the EPSRC’s “Energy Resilient Manufacturing” call was today. Here at Bit by Bit we realised that we should submit something given the overlap between the call and additive manufacturing, and the relatively low effort involved in submitting a proposal.

As the call described:

Research ideas should have the potential to revolutionise the usage and management of energy in the manufacturing industry, significantly reducing the need for energy as an input to the manufacturing process and/or increasing the resilience of manufacturing to uncertainties in the energy supply.

Developing some initial ideas led to five project ideas, three of which spoke directly to 3D printing. We expanded upon these three ideas as far as possible within the very short word limit of the Expression of Interest form. Here are the three proposals we developed, each of which provides (1) a summary of the idea, and (2) an explanation of how the idea fits the scope of the call.

Proposal 1

Idea: 3D printing allows the on-demand manufacture of customised products. How does its potential for more localised production, lower design complexity and replacement parts help decouple economic growth from energy consumption?

Fit to call scope: The adoption of 3D printing by UK industry could transform supply chains and dramatically reduce energy consumption across the manufacturing network. More localised production and lower design complexity will create shorter supply chains, with the reduced number of production and transportation stages leading to step-changes in energy consumption.

Proposal 2

Idea: How does the distributed and localised nature of 3D printing improve UK manufacturing’s resilience to energy disruptions? This project will focus on the manufacturing flexibility offered by 3D printing.

Fit to call scope: Individual, smaller-scale 3D printing sites have lower energy requirements than conventional manufacturing. A distributed network of 3D printing sites could allow production to be better matched to available energy supply, thereby improving the resilience of UK manufacturing to disruptions in energy supply.

Proposal 3

Idea: 3D printing allows replacement components to be produced at lower cost, enabling repairs that were previously economically unattractive. Remanufacturing and service-based business models with lower energy requirements may be realised.

Fit to call scope: Extending product life through the use of 3D printed replacement components reduces the need for new products to be manufactured, significantly reducing energy consumption in the manufacturing system. The 3D printing of replacement components may enable a ‘design for repair’ ethos and new service-based business models to emerge.

While we think that each of these are worth exploring, we were unfortunately limited to the submission of just one proposal. Of the three it was Proposal 1 that we decided to submit. We now wait to see if we’re accepted to pitch our project idea at one of the events later this month.

Image source: http://white-white.deviantart.com/art/Energy-255906119