By their nature the need for spare parts is sporadic and unpredictable, making their production a difficult decision, given that the ROI is not always clear. This can make spare parts management a tricky balancing act, with the need to take into account the cost of production, manufacturing lead time, the volume of parts needed to be stored in inventory, and the ability to meet customer demand.
Additive manufacturing is ideally placed to resolve this burden by offering shortened production lead times, lower part costs and reduced storage costs.
Spare Parts Inventory
When a part breaks, companies can sometimes wait several days or even weeks for a replacement to arrive. This impacts negatively on the product cycle and results in unnecessary downtime. OEMs therefore often produce and store spare parts in large quantities to avoid such downtime, but this results in high inventory costs. Using CASTOR to identify suitable spare parts for additive manufacturing, designs can be stored digitally making the need for inventory obsolete, while potentially offering spare parts on demand.
Additive manufacturing allows OEMs to shift towards a digital inventory methodology. CASTOR maintains a ‘virtual’ inventory where parts, such as spare and low-demand parts, can be produced directly from digital design files, without the need for tooling, freeing up warehouse spaces and lowering inventory costs. When a part is needed it can be uploaded from your digital inventory and sent directly from CASTOR to a 3D printer, and available in hours or days, rather than weeks and months.
Supplying spare parts to customers is also costly. Storing, managing and sending spare parts to customers is expensive and results in some manufacturers to stop providing some spare parts. This puts clients in a difficult position, leaving them empty-handed when they are searching for replacement parts from the OEM.
Meeting Customer Demand
Using additive manufacturing for spare parts unlocks a new business model that increases supply chain flexibility. This minimizes the dependency on the supply chain by empowering localized flexible and demand-driven production. The ability to produce spare parts on-demand negates the need to keep parts in warehouses and avoids the production of unused or obsolete spares.
Additive manufacturing makes it possible to produce spare parts in small quantities, even single items, at a very low cost. Parts can also be printed locally, which saves transportation time and costs.