In a description of the National Science Foundation sponsored center for Smart process Manufacturing (http://www.rockwellautomation.com/resources/downloads/rockwellautomation/pdf/about-us/company-overview/TIMEMagazineSPMcoverstory.pdf) the authors suggest that market disruptions such as a “$3000 automobile or a $300 personal computer” might be outcomes. Plant integration, plant optimization and manufacturing knowledge are listed as the phases to get to this reality. What are the barriers to such an evolution in manufacturing ? How much integration of people, process and technology needs to happen to transform existing manufacturing ? Will leadership for this transformation come from small, agile companies who, when successful, will be integrated into larger ones or can the large companies lead such a transformation ? Finally, how global will this phenomenon need to be to transform supply chains ?
by Maria Hartas, DCMME Graduate Assistant
When looking into ways to expand its logistics operations, Amazon is embracing a “carnival” tent solution. As the company races to keep up with competitors, such as UPS, FedEx and USPS, Amazon has set up fabric tents in at least eight states; Tennessee, South Carolina, Arkansas, Georgia, Colorado, Louisiana, Kentucky and Idaho. These tents operate as temporary delivery stations used for housing and sorting packages before they’re final delivery.
Amazon ships billions of items annually; the company reported 5 billion items shipped with Prime alone in 2017. According to Amazon’s SEC filling, the costs associated with the delivery of all online orders received are growing exponentially as eCommerce activity continues to increase. As Amazon has recruited more deliver service partners (DSPs) to grow the company’s last-mile logistics network, a tent that takes a couple weeks to build enables the rapid expansion in new areas.
The tents are large enough, starting up to 35 feet tall and ranging between 9,000 square feet and 18,000 square feet, and can adequately accommodate up to 300 people. With little-to-no property taxes and little maintenance required, tents are well positioning Amazon to compete in getting closer to customers.
What are the benefits of building tents?
Are tents solving last-mile delivery problems?
Can delivery tents offer Amazon a sustainable competitive advantage?
AR improves the order picking process
By using smart glasses, employees can see exactly where items should fit on carts while they are picking orders. In addition to this, these smart lenses keep the picking lists in view of the order picker at all times, and shows them the most efficient route through the warehouse. This is a vast improvement over the commonly used process where order pickers use a piece of paper or hand scanner to hand select products and place them on carts.Not only does using AR reduce errors and increase order picking speed, it also reduces the need for intensive on the job training.
VR and AR for predictive modeling
Large retailers, and other distributors often have manufacturing facilities, distribution centers, and warehouses spread across the country and even have facilities overseas. At any given time, managers may not be on site. In spite of this, they still need to be on top of things. By using any number of virtual reality or augmented reality tools, managers can get a real time look at any site at any time to ensure that processes are running as planned. This is particularly important when issues have caused supply chain management disruptions.
VR can make the delivery process safer and more efficient
Delivery drivers are tasked with ensuring that products make it to stores, offices, homes, and distribution centers in a timely manner without damage done to products. Current processes include using navigation systems and manually checking cargo. With temperature controlled loads, things are even more complex. These solutions are often time consuming and distracting. The latter increases the chance for accidents. VR can be used to significantly improve this part of the supply chain process. For example, VR can be used to superimpose important information directly onto the windshield. Without glancing at a handheld device, drivers can see alternate routes, blocked roads and traffic snags. Even information about the load itself can be seen without the need to stop, climb into the back of the truck, and see what’s going on. VR even plays a role when drivers arrive at the point of delivery. Packages can be encoded with scannable images for drivers and unloaders. These can provide information such as package weight, contents and handling instructions. This means that before they even place their hands on a particular package the employee will know that a package is exceptionally heavy, fragile, requires a signature and is to be delivered at the south entrance.
Improved secured delivery options
When it is especially important to ensure that packages are delivered to a specific person, the current method is to verify identity and collect a signature. With customer cooperation and approval, VR can make secured delivery and identity verification even easier. A picture of the customer can be scanned into and stored in the company’s databases. Then, upon delivery, VR and facial recognition technology can be used to match the customer’s face with the picture in the database. As a result of this, it becomes easy to ensure that the recipient is the one intended to receive the delivery. This is a much more secure alternative to using picture IDs or signatures, both of which can be easily forged.
- How is VR and AR making supply chain better?
- How is VR and AR improving secured delivery?
- How are AR and VR helping in predictive modeling?
Arnold, A. (2018, March 24). How AR And VR Are Revolutionizing The Supply Chain. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewarnold/2018/01/29/how-ar-and-vr-are-revolutionizing-the-supply-chain/#630a572e4cbf
The economic advantages of metal additive manufacturing as an alternative to traditional methods are clear, but the reduced environmental impact may be even more important to the future of industry.
Shipping: An Enormous Carbon Footprint
The flow of raw materials into a manufacturing facility and finished goods out of it require enormous energy inputs allocated to shipping. Given that traditional manufacturing has been heavily reliant on fossil fuels since the Industrial Revolution, this process exacts a major toll on the environment. Together, the transportation sector accounts for over 30 percent of all U.S. emissions. Industrial transportation related to shipping undoubtedly comprises a major segment of this total.Complex, disjointed supply chains result in an end-use product that requires inputs to be shipped from hundreds of suppliers. Further, the completed product goes through multiple layers of distribution before it arrives in its buyer’s hands. 3D printing can’t fix all these problems, but it does have the potential to dramatically cut the number of links in the chain by allowing local, on-demand manufacturing of a huge variety of components. Without a doubt, 3D printing will eliminate millions of component shipping journeys in the coming decade.
Traditional Processes Waste Vital Resources
The largest segment of the metal parts fabrication industry is “subtractive” processes like CNC milling, in which material is cut away from a block to produce a final part.This brings us back to the key word, “subtractive.” The problem with this type of manufacturing is that any of the original block of metal that is cut away is waste. That wasted material represents additional resources that must be extracted from the Earth via potentially harmful mining practices.
Even worse, the final outcome for the scrap material itself involves one of two things:
- Additional shipping and processing to take advantage of whatever economic value the cast-off still has
- A trip to the local landfill, where industrial overcrowding is already a significant issue
Metal 3D printing, when economically viable, provides a nearly perfect solution to this problem. Because it’s an additive process, whereby material is layered onto itself in an exact pattern, there is virtually no waste associated. Only the metal that actually comprises the final component is used. The unused material can be recycled.This could mean the difference between 95% waste with CNC machining and < 1% waste using metal AM.
Toxic Byproducts are Common in Metal Manufacturing
Certain types of metal manufacturing, most notably CNC machining and metal injection molding, require the use of toxic substances as part of their process. The oils and lubricants needed to ensure CNC machines run properly are often dangerous to the environment. The finishing process for these parts can also make use of fluids that can be damaging if handled incorrectly. These must be handled carefully and disposed of properly.Needless to say, “properly” isn’t a standard to which all manufacturers worldwide are held. Some percentage of the harmful agents used in both CNC machining and metal injection molding will make it into the air, water, or soil that supports the community around a plant. It’s hard to quantify this, but the environmental impact is real.Standards for proper disposal of hazardous chemicals associated with conventional metal manufacturing can vary dramatically by world region.
Metal AM eliminates this concern entirely. The process simply doesn’t generate any toxic byproducts, which guarantees that air and water quality won’t be directly harmed.Conventionally made components can leave a much bigger carbon footprint than 3D printed parts.A less obvious environmental cost of traditional manufacturing lies in the efficiency of end-use products. Recent successes in metal 3D printing have changed what’s possible for fuel efficiency in a variety of places. The technology has enabled huge design improvements that shave off weight without compromising strength.
Lessening the Carbon Footprint Through AM-Enabled Design
3D printing allows for the manufacture of parts with complex internal geometries, often in ways that are impossible for conventional techniques to match. The upshot is that design changes that combine multiple parts into a single component can often be completed without sacrificing functionality–or feasibility. This accomplishes the goal of lowering cost and lead times by simplifying the manufacturing process, but it also comes with significant environmental advantages.
Additive Manufacturing Optimizes Designs & Efficiency
As the world marches toward an increasingly tenuous climate future, the costs of a suboptimal part made through traditional manufacturing must be considered right alongside the more tangible impacts described above. There are countless heavy or less-than-aerodynamic components in applications across every sector that could be improved significantly with the design freedom afforded by metal AM. In aggregate, the emissions reductions that are now feasible through projects like GE’s Advanced Turboprop engine would represent major improvement for humanity’s overall carbon footprint. Metal 3D printing doesn’t yet offer all the answers, but in a growing percentage of manufacturing situations, it’s a step in the right direction for our planet.
3DEO. (n.d.). Environmental Impact of Additive Manufacturing. Retrieved from https://news.3deo.co/environmental-impact-of-additive-manufacturing
- How is 3D printing reducing the carbon footprint?
- How is 3D printing reducing wastage?
- How is 3D printing optimizing designs and increasing efficiency?
by Maria Hartas, DCMME Graduate Assistant
Can supply chains directly meet end consumers? The answer is yes, and for companies like FedEx Office opening retail locations in Walmart stores, the company’s supply chain is turning into a customer-centric supply chain. FedEx recently opened the company’s 2,000th retail location in a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, marking it the 150th such location of the 500 Walmart stores customers will be able to print and ship while shopping.
Why FedEx & Walmart?
Expanding FedEx storefronts in Walmart is a strategic move towards adopting a more customer-focused supply chain. For FedEx, offering the option to customers to ship and pick orders from a secure store location instead of an exposed porch or front door increases the sense of security and reliability of doing business with the company. In addition to consumer benefits, FedEx will increase its market presence through the Walmart network in more locations without incurring direct construction or development costs leveraging the existing store facilities. Walmart on the other hand, will benefit from increased traffic in stores; online shoppers could potentially switch from other e-commerce platforms that do not offer convenient pick-up locations and opt to couple online ordering with grocery shopping at a Walmart near them.
A robust, customer facing supply chain will continue to grow as more companies take a holistic approach in improving customer experiences, starting from raw materials to convenient store locations nearby.
How can a 3PL, like FedEx, enter new markets though its supply chain?
Why are companies adopting customer-centric supply chains?
Could FedEx and Walmart become more competitive by working together?
With over one billion AR enabled smartphones and tablets already in use, companies don’t have to wait for low-cost augmented reality glasses to start reaping the benefits of augmented reality. Here are five ways that AR is transforming the supply chain into a nimble tool for global distribution:
1) Pick-and-Pack Services
Augmented reality is being used in warehouses to more efficiently locate products and pack them in outgoing boxes. One of the costliest parts of running a “pick and pack” service is training new workers to navigate a large warehouse and find the one product they are searching for. AR glasses can paint an imaginary line on the warehouse floor to simplify the searching and training. During the peak holiday season, temporary workers need to be on-boarded quickly. AR shortens the learning curve by providing new hires with constant feedback on their glasses about how they are doing and what can be improved. Field tests of AR pick-and-pack systems have reduced errors by as much as 40%.
2) Collaborative Robotics
Robots are the ultimate human augmentation. Workers sitting comfortably at their desks can wear AR glasses that let them see what a robot in the warehouse sees. AR glasses can now chart the paths of robots through warehouses and use their strength to lift and move heavy cargo. Dangerous or repetitive tasks, such as loading a truck, can be delegated to robots that operate with human guidance when it comes to how to best load the items to achieve the maximum load. Additionally, logistics robots are able to scan each product for damage, check its weight, and abide by any package shipping instructions. By connecting robots with managers, customers can be automatically alerted if any products that aren’t available before the truck even leaves the warehouse.
Fixing a problem before it happens is the most cost-effective form of maintenance. With many aircraft engines now transmitting usage data via Wi-Fi when they are on the ground, augmented reality is assisting maintenance crews in reducing engine downtime by comparing engine data with the past history of other similar aircraft with avionics systems. These algorithms then suggest maintenance before a problem is likely to occur. For planes that spend most of their ground time at distant locations, AR can also enable more experienced maintenance teams at the airline’s hub to see what local technicians are dealing with and provide timely live support.
4) Last Mile Delivery
In logistics, the last-mile of delivery to customers is the most expensive. AR can save money by cutting the time spent on last-mile delivery nearly in half. According to a DHL report, drivers spend 40% to 60% of their day searching inside their own truck for the correct boxes to deliver next. Instead of having to remember how their truck was loaded that morning, augmented reality is used to identify, tag, sequence, and locate every parcel. Combined with artificial intelligence, AR glasses can also navigate the driver to the proper door or building gate for delivery. These systems will record each and every delivery so that new drivers will benefit from past driver experiences. In the near future, every driver will be given a graphic overlay of each building they encounter.
The distributed ledger capability of blockchain is being combined with augmented reality to bring transparency and traceability to procurement. The entire supply chain falls apart when customers can’t be assured of a product’s origin or authenticity. Each year, billions of dollars’ worth of counterfeit pharmaceuticals are distributed to patients, and tens of thousands are dying. Using AR to identify and track each shipment from manufacturer to end user is a way to help solve this deadly problem. Recording each transfer of ownership on a blockchain can also assist in tracing the origin of fish or the source of harvested crops.
Big data drives the decision making behind the world’s distribution of products throughout the supply chain. Augmented reality is now poised to exponentially increase the speed at which data can be analyzed and acted on. The insights augmented reality bring to the supply chain can be used to power the next generation of the supply chain, which will feature autonomous vehicles and delivery drones.
“5 Ways Augmented Reality Is Disrupting the Supply Chain.” Fortune, fortune.com/2018/03/01/5-ways-augmented-reality-is-disrupting-the-supply-chain/.
- How does augmented reality help in reducing costs in supply chain?
- How is blockchain is being combined with augmented reality to bring transparency and traceability to procurement?
- How does augmented reality help in last-mile delivery?
by Maria Hartas, DCMME Graduate Assistant
Imagine last mile delivery of vaccines. UPS, collaborating with Matternet a drone technology company, launched the transport of medical samples using drones to WakeMed’s campus in the Raleigh, North Carolina, area.
Matternet’s M2 quadcopter, a drone that is battery powered and can transport up to five pounds can travel up to 12.5 miles. UPS will be able to fulfill on-demand and same-day delivery orders using Matternet’s technology.
Furthermore, UPS will be sending vaccines to franchised stores, from where contracted nurses by the 3PL’s clinical trial departments will deliver and administer the vaccine to patients.
UPS’s robust package tracking system, starting from shipping label inception to the precise minute of delivery, would open new opportunities for UPS in the medical field.
How can drone technology enhance medical services?
Are there drone-delivery limitations?
How do consumers benefit from delivery innovations?
by Maria Hartas, DCMME Graduate Assistant
Imagine being able to trace cacao “bean to bar”, as expressed by the head of addressable media and technology for The Hershey Company, Vinny Rinadli. Such granular reporting will be possible as a result of the Hershey Company joining AdLedger, a blockchain-based consortium founded by IBM, Tegna and blockchain company MadHive in 2018.
AdLedger is a nonprofit consortium spearheading the development of shared ledger technologies for the digital advertising market. Blockchain technology would not only be advancing supply chain tracking capabilities but would also be enhancing advertising through readily available data and intermediary transaction documentation.
Starting with cacao farmers, moving to intermediaries and factories, all the way to tracking end consumers, blockchain technology could fundamentally change the way chocolate companies operate.
How can blockchain technology advance digital advertising?
Where can blockchain be applied?
How can companies use blockchain technology?