7 Ways 3D Printing Is Making Manufacturing More Competitive

7 Ways 3D Printing Is Making Manufacturing More Competitive

Apr 26, 2016

By Louis Columbus, Forbes 71.1% of manufacturers have currently adopted 3D Printing. 52% of manufacturers expect 3D Printing will be used for high-volume production in the next 3-5 years. 22% of manufacturers predict 3D Printing will have a disruptive effect on supply chains. Global spending on printers was predicted to reach $11B in 2015 and forecast to reach about $27B by 2019. These and many other insights are from the Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) and Manufacturing Institute report published this month 3D Printing comes of age in US industrial manufacturing.  You can download the report here (10 pp., PDF).  Manufacturing CEO: “We Are Going To Disrupt Ourselves Before The Market Does By Relying On Advanced Technologies Including 3D Printing.” During a recent conversation with the CEO of one of the leading industrial equipment manufacturers in the Midwest, she told me that her company sees disruption as key to their survival and growth. “We are doing to disrupt ourselves before the market does by relying on advanced technologies including 3D Printing,” she told me. This CEO successfully has turned around a series of product lines that had flat sales growth, using a combination of cloud platforms, analytics, mobile and rapid prototyping including 3D printing. She says that by putting the customer at the center of these initiatives unifies them and makes their impact on sales and customer satisfaction immediately measurable. 7 Ways 3D Printing Makes Manufacturers More Competitive 71.1% of manufacturers are now using 3D Printing for prototyping and final products.PwC found that more manufacturers are using 3D Printing for prototyping and final products compared to two years ago (35%). Time-to-market and increasingly unique customer requirements are driving up adoption of 3D Printing in product development and production workflows across global manufacturing today. 52% of manufacturers expect 3D Printing will be used for high-volume production in the next 3-5 years. Manufacturers are looking more to 3D Printing than ever before for high-volume production, with just over half (52%) evaluating it compared to 38% just two years ago. 22% of manufacturers predict 3D Printing will have a disruptive effect on supply chains in the next 3 – 5 years. An additional 18% believe 3D Printing is a...

Demand Planning Evolves To Better Serve Manufacturing

Demand Planning Evolves To Better Serve Manufacturing

Apr 12, 2016

By Glenn Jones, Manufacturing Business Technology As manufacturers compete in a global marketplace where demand signals are often volatile, increasingly dispersed, and critical to efficient operation, the need for more effective demand planning looms ever larger. It’s fair to say that many struggle with the task. In an article from noted supply chain consultant Lori Cecere comments on both the frustration with demand planning and its importance: “After two decades of process and technology refinement, excellence in demand management still eludes supply chain teams. In fact, it is the supply chain planning application with the greatest gap between performance and satisfaction. At the same time, it’s the application with the greatest planned future spending.” The general perception of planning predisposes those involved to expect less than satisfactory results; forecasting is typically seen as always wrong, obsolete upon its completion, and ultimately reactive to events “on the ground.” Yet the investment manufacturers are making in demand planning belies that belief. Among other things, advances in technology are making demand planning more science than art; of course, the biggest carrot is that increases in demand forecast accuracy typically accrue directly to the bottom line. Manufacturers know that better demand planning improves efficiency and profitability. The question is how to go about it. Best Practices There are different techniques to employ for effective demand planning. Two are longstanding; one is emerging rapidly. The first involves collaboration. Collect what your customers think demand is for a product. This can be gathered from channel partners. If a manufacturer is doing direct sales, it can be gleaned from account managers and sales teams, either communicated directly or through CRM systems. The second technique subjects historical data to statistical modeling. This provides a different perspective than collaborative information, giving demand planners comparative data from which to build a consensus forecast. These techniques have been used for many years. As Gartner noted in research that surveyed supply chain experts across a range of manufacturing organizations, defining the balance between statistical modeling and collaborative forecasting “helps improve accountability for the forecast and enables continuous improvement across the organization.” However, even with this balance defined, demand planning after these steps remains a kind of...

Why Employers Need More Creativity from their Employees

Why Employers Need More Creativity from their Employees

Mar 10, 2016

By E.J. Daigle, Design-2-Part Magazine Remember that scene from the classic movie, The Graduate, where Dustin Hoffman’s neighbor says to the just-graduated youngster, about to seek his first job: “I just want to say one word to you. Just one word…plastics.” Today, that one word of advice would surely be “change.” Coast to coast, industrial fields are undergoing a massive sea change unseen in recent industrial history. And the reason is very clear. The rise of robotics, automated processes, 3D printing, and advanced materials are all impacting and dramatically changing the shop floor while also altering the skill set of every employee that works on it. What should employers do? How can we all keep pace with change by reshaping our workforces to take advantage of new opportunities? That also comes down to one word: creativity. Why We Need a New Kind of Employee Well-trained employees are the fastest way to an evolved workforce, but already the deck is stacked when it comes to finding qualified candidates. The Wall Street Journal recently pointed to a survey highlighting a decline in technical industry apprenticeships, down from 500,000 ten years ago to 280,000 today. In addition, polls by Manpower Group and The Manufacturing Institute cite widespread difficulties that employers have experienced in their attempts to fill jobs, the latter stating that 75 percent of manufacturers surveyed were experiencing trouble filling open technical positions. With far fewer apprenticeship programs nationally and technology driving the demand for highly skilled workers, employers need to turn to technical colleges and seek a new breed of candidate: one that brings a more rounded skill set and industry-ready experiences to their first day on the job. Balanced Education Recruitment used to be easier. Employers could simply review a resume, meet for an interview, and check references of their chosen candidate. Today, there’s a more urgent need for candidates to bring balance. That means a pre-existing familiarity with the machinery, processes, and often-specialized tools of their chosen profession—gained from work experience and internships. But balance also means other skills, too: analytical thinking, a design sensibility, experience with computer programming, and a holistic view of the production, engineering and manufacturing process that will inform...

Improve Manufacturing Productivity | 5 Keys to Killer…

Improve Manufacturing Productivity | 5 Keys to Killer…

Mar 1, 2016

“Improve Manufacturing Productivity | 5 Keys to Killer Manufacturing” By Daniel Waldron, Cerasis Too many manufacturing floors are hit and miss when it comes to reliability because firms are trying the same things expecting different results in an attempt to improve manufacturing productivity. Here are five things to cut out on the manufacturing floor that will improve performance… Manufacturing floors are fraught with reliability issues. Machinery and personnel can be two key factors contributing to an unreliable manufacturing floor. However, what’s often overlooked is the role that the surrounding environment has on reducing manufacturing floor performance. Many manufacturing floors that exist in the modern era came into existence at a time when little care was given to the impact of the surrounding environment on the manufacturing process. Manufacturing floors of yesteryear are synonymous with filth, grime, heat and humidity, it’s true of many manufacturing plants today. While some plants have cleaned up their act, meaning their less synonymous with dust, dirt and gruelling heat, the clean-up hasn’t prevented the same challenges facing the manufacturing floor, meaning the surrounding environment still plays its part in bringing manufacturing plants to a grinding halt. How? It has everything to do with the increasing use of computers on the manufacturing floor. It’s safe to say that there are more manufacturing floors using computers as part of their processes than those not using them. Computers have become an integral part of manufacturing life. Across today’s manufacturing floors, the problems of yesteryear have simply evolved. No longer is dirt, grime, heat or humidity taking down a well-oiled machine, they’ve become the nemesis of the modern computer. How do you tackle the new nemeses to the manufacturing floor? Let’s explore… Poor reliability on the manufacturing floor is usually the result of a technology malfunction. The problem is becoming increasingly associated with computers. Why? Manufacturing plants are bringing ‘office’ computers to the shop floor. That’s great because it beats the old way of stashing them in some makeshift office. Instead, computers are at the heart of the manufacturing floor, contributing to the streamlining of the manufacturing process. However, problems occur pretty quickly because those computers are not built to endure the rigours of...

2016 Predictions: How Manufacturers Will Meet…

2016 Predictions: How Manufacturers Will Meet…

Feb 11, 2016

“2016 Predictions: How Manufacturers Will Meet Customers’ Needs Faster” By Kaite Mohr, Manufacturing.net When Mitch Free, founder of digital manufacturer Zyci, looks into the future of manufacturing, he sees one primary driving force: speed. Consumers and manufacturers alike are no longer OK with long turnaround times, and Free believes this will spur a cultural change throughout the industry. Fortunately, Free thinks manufacturers already have the tools to pick up the pace. In an exclusive interview with Manufacturing.net, Free outlines how cloud-based CAD, digital inventory, IoT and rethinking old processes can help manufacturers meet this need for speed. Katie Mohr (KM): What is the biggest change you think manufacturers will see in 2016 and why? Mitch Free (MF): The largest think is the need for speed. What I’m experiencing is our customers — companies that make products with the parts we create — are ordering smaller lot sizes but more frequently, and they expect it to be made and delivered fast. Many manufacturers just aren’t set up for speed. It takes them days or weeks to get back to a customer with pricing, and then their typical lead time to produce something can be six to 12 weeks. That just can’t work anymore. We’re a faster, on-demand society, and customers are demanding the same thing. People and companies are thinking about risk mitigation. If I produce 10,000 widgets and I hold them in inventory and I sell them over the next six months or year, it’s risky. The widgets might become obsolete, a competitor could change something or I could discover something I could improve on my product. Instead, if I manufacture closer to the demands of my customers, I have less risk and I maintain more flexibility. The good news is that capability exists now. KM: How are manufacturers negotiating the need for increased speed? MF: Companies are re-thinking their supply chains. They’re reorganizing the way they inventory; they don’t want to inventory. They want to manufacture very fast, and I think that’s difficult for a lot companies to cope with. It’s cultural, it’s systems, it’s processes, it’s leveraging the Internet of Things so you have real-time data to make decisions quickly. It’s also...