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Professor Jeannette Song, of the Duke University Fuqua School of Business, North Carolina, has created a mathematical model to help firms balance the costs between 3D printing on demand and spare part storage.
Described in a paper titled “Stock or Print? Impact of 3D Printing on Spare Parts Industry“, the model helps identify which parts to 3D print when needed, and when to keep them on hand in stock.
Utilities - Parts - Hand - Disruption - Professor
“For utilities, when you don’t have spare parts on hand, it’s a huge disruption,” explains Professor Song. “They have to have reliable and responsive supply of spare parts.”
“TRADITIONALLY A FIRM IN THIS POSITION WOULD HAVE A HUGE WAREHOUSE IN EVERY MARKET. BUT NOW 3D PRINTING IS A VIABLE ALTERNATIVE, SO YOU HAVE TWO OPTIONS.”
Jeannette - Song - Approach - Printing - Storing
Drawing depicting Jeannette Song’s hybrid approach to 3D printing and storing spare parts. Image via Duke University on YouTube.
The large inventory space traditionally required by product providers is expensive and inefficient. As Song explains, “It takes up space and capital and there is the risk of spoilage and damage.” With the advent of 3D printing, manufacturers have a means of producing required spare parts when needed, therefore decreasing inventory space.
Corporations - Railway - Company - Deutsche - Bahn
Large corporations like German railway company Deutsche Bahn (DB) have created schemes to 3D print their spare parts and on demand replacements. DB has since 3D printed almost 15,000 spare parts and other products, helping to achieve significant savings and reduce vehicle downtime. The major European railway firm has also partnered with 3D printing software developer 3YOURMIND to build a digital spare parts warehouse.
Angel Trains, a British rolling stock operator company (ROSCO), has also endeavoured towards 3D printing spare parts for trains. Announced in late 2018, Angel Trains partnered with leading 3D printer OEM Stratasys to 3D print a variety of parts including an armrest, grab handle,...
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