Additive manufacturing = subtractive logistics

The ABC/XYZ portfolio is, so to speak, a small blood count of a company’s logistics situation. Those who know how to interpret it. can recognize many of the causes of logistical problems in companies. A problem. which reflects the portfolios of many companies. is reflected in the number of items in relation to the stock turnover achieved.

It is not unusual. that companies producing for stock achieve 60 to 80 percent of their stock turnover with approx. 20 to 30 percent of their finished goods. while at the other end of the spectrum, CZ articles account for only 2 to 3 percent of sales with 40 to 60 percent of articles. “Long tail” is the term used to describe this rat’s tail of products that generates practically no turnover. but involves a lot of inventory and effort. Based on 10 years of experience in corporate restructuring, I would describe this rat’s tail as a fuse. that can explode an entire product portfolio and with it an entire company. The cost of producing this rat-tail fuse is often just as high. as the one for the entire AB/XY articles.

Are you one of those production managers and supply chain managers who are scarred by years of fighting the rat-tail fuse? Then let’s hope together, because perhaps relief will come in the form of additive manufacturing in the next few years. The technology is advancing in leaps and bounds from year to year, having only been used for rapid prototyping of components for many years. There are now more and more productive applications. Aircraft contain components that were manufactured using additive manufacturing. They are increasingly being used in the automotive industry; the range of applications is broadening from year to year and the number of materials that can be processed is growing.

In addition to manufacturing and design advantages, such as tool-free production and the ability to produce extremely lightweight components, additive manufacturing is very well suited to small batch sizes and makes it possible to significantly reduce throughput times, as components can be produced in a single process step and do not have to pass through several production stages and several queues before the production stages. Short replacement times? Small batch sizes? That’s exactly what we need for this collection of logistical odds and ends! The realization is no longer that visionary: additive manufacturing is the ideal means of removing the fuse from our companies’ product portfolios. Instead of producing all these products from the CZ portfolio that are in demand sporadically and in small quantities in batches that are always too large and always kept in stock for too long, the next few years should open up the opportunity for countless companies to provide many of these CZ parts in line with demand and no longer keep them in stock prophylactically. For parts where large production batches flow out of the warehouse quickly, Additive manufacturing may be too expensive from a logistical and economic point of view, but it could quickly become an economic boon for all the exotic products in our portfolios. Inventories can be saved, capital formation is reduced and planning and scheduling costs are significantly lower. Complexity and effort will be reduced and thus additive manufacturing will lead to “subtractive” logistics. At least when the 3D printing stations are located close to the customer. This in turn leads to completely new logistics and provisioning requirements: For example, licensing, which adds a non-trivial technological component to the issue of delivery readiness, which may also require completely new business processes. An exciting change is taking place here, and it’s time to shape it!

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Prof. Dr. Andreas Kemmner

Prof. Dr. Andreas Kemmner

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