A lot of people are writing or talking about the newest trends in Wholesale Distribution. They believe that drones will deliver smaller packages; they also see driverless vehicles and, of course, 3D printers on the rise. How will 3D printing impact the business of Wholesale Distributors?
So far, the 3D printing technology works. It is currently used for product development and helps to speed up innovation cycles and time to market. Pump producers are using 3D printing technology to print prototypes. They can test the pump and, in case a certain part does not fit into the whole concept, new parts can be printed on the fly.
Car manufacturers are using 3D printers in the development department, to quickly produce prototypes. In case adjustments are needed, they can easily print a new prototype or a part of it. In this case, 3D printing also helps to increase product development.
It is the same story in ship construction and production. 3D printing is already helping today.
How can a Wholesale Distributor benefit from this technology?
In my opinion, a distributor can save a lot of money. Products can be printed directly at the distributor’s location. They can always use the most recent construction plan of a product. There will be no outdated products. Warehouse space can be reduced. Logistics cost for the delivery of the products to the distributor can be minimized. The distributor can act as a producer and pays a license fee for the printed products.
Another option would be to act as a 3D printing service agent for construction companies or manufacturers. The distributors could buy and maintain 3D printers located in any site. They would also supply the needed raw materials.
We will see what the future brings, but do not forget to think about these trends. Otherwise the future may not be yours.