How 3D Printing Impacts Logistics and Supply Chains- by Abhilasha Satpathy, DCMME Center Graduate Student Assistant

In recent years, 3D printing has brought manufacturing capabilities to several remote, hard-to-access areas across the globe. DHL, for instance, tells us that the U.S. Navy 3D prints drones on-demand on board its oceangoing vessels. NASA, meanwhile, is working to develop a 3D printer for the International Space Station. Shell is also experimenting with this remote manufacturing method on offshore oil platforms.

Pay-for-use or nonprofit fabrication shops are becoming more popular as well, offering public access to 3D printing tools, and some websites have begun aggregating 3D printing designs, allowing customers to compare and select printing services that work for their specific needs.These initiatives are disrupting the traditional manufacturing supply chain in several ways. In researching warehouse stocking practices in Amsterdam, DiManEx found that approximately 80% of stored products were sold only twice yearly, which led to write-offs, scrapping, and wasted materials. With on-demand, on-site printing, companies can move away from having to store excess spare parts and can instead deliver parts quickly and efficiently, whenever they’re required. Mercedes-Benz Trucks, for instance, allows customers to 3D print more than 30 cargo truck spare parts.

As 3D printing becomes more and more prevalent, expect to see increased supplier consolidation as well. For instance, logistics providers may offer added value by being the ones to process, print, and deliver 3D parts quickly and cheaply. In this way, the typical months-long process of designing, sourcing, and producing component parts can be cut down drastically. In the future, 3D printing warehouses may also take on the responsibility of material sourcing in addition to 3D end-to-end design, production, and delivery. As an example, consider Amazon’s bet on this technology: The company has patented a truck fitted with 3D printers that would allow for sophisticated mobile manufacturing capabilities. Increased responsiveness is also likely, as 3D printers allow for smaller batch sizes, which can positively impact quality control and open the door for expedited product development.

Finally, this kind of technological innovation is likely to bring about advanced customization options, as users will be able to select various aspects of the design, material, shape, size, packaging, and so on. And in gaining the power to make and deliver their own 3D-printed products, customers will no longer be limited to what suppliers themselves design and produce.

 

References:

3D Printing Finds Its Place in the Supply Chain. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://news.thomasnet.com/featured/3d-printing-finds-its-place-in-the-supply-chain/

 

Questions:

  1. How is 3D printing bringing about advanced customization options into supply chains ?
  2. How is 3D printing reducing wastage in supply chains ?
  3. How is 3D printing improving the efficiencies of supply chains ?

 

 

 

Japanese start-up introduces the first humanless warehouse

Jobs performed by warehouse workers and forklift operators are now completed by robots in the first humanless warehouse in Tokyo. Mujin, a start-up company, has equipped its customer’s, JD.com, e-commerce warehouse with robots.

In an effort to augment existing industrial robot arms, Mujin is building robot controllers and camera systems. The controller’s technology based on motion planning and computer vision, strengthens robotic autonomous and intelligent action. The enhanced controllers lead to the elimination of manual robot training and overall higher productivity.

The 40,000-sq-m JD.com e-commerce facility is equipped with 20 industrial robots that complete tasks such as picking, transferring packages, and loading docks and trucks. Crates on conveyor belts, camera systems and Mujin robot controllers are all part of the humanless warehouse. The robots come with five workers who are needed to service the machines, compared to an estimated 400 to 500 workers that would be needed in the absence of the robots.

Mujin is targeting the predictability in the controller’s moves, and the development of automation technologies such as robot hardware, sensing hardware, AI algorithms, conveyor systems and sorting systems. That’s to say that the company aims to standardize a complete automation package that can automate warehouses without tailored components for customers.

Improvements will continue to be made in the field of warehouse automation as Japanese companies, following JD.com, will be testing out the new technology.

What level of engagement do workers have in a fully automated warehouse?

How are robots enhancing productivity in a warehouse?

What technologies can aid the integration of robots in a warehouse?

Source:

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/10/30/the-worlds-first-humanless-warehouse-is-run-only-by-robots.html

Schoolyard Brawl

In a recent article on the website, yahoo.com, they discuss the hostile environment in the Japanese Diet over the ratification of the TPP. Japanese lawmakers recently voted to ratify the TPP, but the sensitive top quickly dissolved into and Jerry Springer episode as fights broke out on the committee floor. Many lawmakers disagreed with many of the provisions. While the deal will lower many of the tariffs for Japanese exports, the open markets will create more competition for Japanese farmers and businesses. Will more fights break out as they try to reconcile their differences? Will the deal get ratified? Will other countries show the same hostility toward each other as they attempt to ratify the deal?

 

Losing Steam

In a recent article on the website, SBS.com, they discuss the dissatisfaction that many Japanese are feeling with the proposed TPP deal. Japan is trying to become the first member nation to ratify the TPP deal in parliament, but are facing growing skepticism by the public. Only a little over one third of the population want to ratify the deal and many more are unsure whether or not this is the course to take with respect to the Japanese economy. Will the deal get done? How might this affect other countries? How will this affect the Japanese economy?

Beefy Boost

In a recent article on the website, The Cattle site, the impact of the U.S. waiting to approve the TPP deal on trade, is discussed. The only country to approve the TPP to date is Malaysia. Since there is no deal in place, tariffs on U.S. exports are extremely high. This is particularly crippling on the agricultural sector, as almost one third of gross agricultural income is through exports. The Japanese and other countries are concerned with what the U.S. will do with regard to the approving the TPP deal and are in a nervous “wait and see” mode. How can U.S. agriculture come out without too much loss? What will the U.S. ultimately do with respect to the proposed TPP deal? How will other countries respond to the U.S.’ actions?

Deal or No Deal?

In a recent article in, The Wall Street Journal, the ratification of the TPP by the involved countries is discussed. Japan is making a strong push to have their parliament ratify the TPP deal to help gain momentum for the deal in the US. Without the support of the US, the deal dies, and President Obama’s support is crucial to the deals ratification before he leaves office in January. The deal would help to open up free trade in the Asia-pacific region and eliminate costly tariffs for all parties, especially Japan. Will the deal get done in time? Will the US government ratify the deal if Japan does? What will be the implications if the deal doesn’t get approved by the 12 members?

Japanese Rice Getting Cheaper?

In a recent article in, The Japan Times, the author discusses the need for Japanese farmers to produce cheaper rice. With the signing of the new TPP deal, Japan will see an influx of international products flood their domestic markets. This is especially true in their agricultural sections. The Japanese government is teaming up with local farmers to produce cheaper and more cost effective rice, in an effort to be more competitive in overseas markets. In what ways can Japanese farmers produce a cheaper product? Will this approach work? How may this strategy affect the quality of the rice?