At the SAP Leonardo Live event in Frankfurt a few months ago, a well-known, leading global manufacturer of machinery and equipment talked about their web shop and global B2B platform for the beverage packaging industry. One aspect of their story particularly caught my interest: the 3D Printing of component parts.
For this manufacturer, 3D Printing is especially relevant for providing emergency spare parts to customers. These are parts that can be produced much faster, but are less durable than the original parts, while still having the same form, fit and function. The purpose of these 3D-printed service parts is to keep a machine running until the original spare parts are made available and ready to installed. Using these 3D-printed emergency parts reduces down time of costly assets, while relieving the manufacturer from keeping all kinds of spare parts in stock, which can significantly tie up valuable working capital. Just imagine a filling line for water bottles going down in the middle of summer: customer satisfaction, operational efficiency, and sales revenue all plummet. 3D-printed parts can eliminate this type of production nightmare.
If a company wants to provide 3D-printed emergency spare parts and integrate them into existing business processes, many new operational aspects have to be considered, such as:
- Can the part actually be 3D-printed?
- Which changes to the original design are needed?
- What are the optimal parameters for this part?
- Who is a reliable supplier/printer?
- How to incorporate this new manufacturing channel into existing processes?
- How is the intellectual property (IP) protected?
Photo credit: https://mfgtalkradio.com/tag/3d-printing
For IP protection, LEO Lane is embedded in SAP Distributed Manufacturing and ensures that only authorized copies of a part are created. Limited Edition Object (LEO) files are controlled and tracked for IP protection and parameter enforcement.
Last but not least. the business process of ordering, manufacturing, shipping, and invoicing these parts is seamlessly integrated into the existing web shop using SAP Hybris Commerce and SAP ERP. From an end customer perspective there is no difference in between ordering a 3D-printed part or an original spare part from stock. The benefits of this integration include:
- Less customer downtime: better, faster customer service
- Reduced inventory levels: minimal production disruption and optimized working capital
- Compressed lead-times: seamless set-up of a new emergency parts business on the web shop
- Better risk mitigation: full control of the IP, business process, product quality, and quantities of parts produced
As a Solution Manager for SAP, Johannes Papst´s main focus is to align SAP solutions with today´s business needs in the Industrial Machinery and Components Industry. Johannes has over 20 years of experience with software for discrete manufacturing sectors and his main areas of focus are manufacturing processes as well as small and medium sized industrial businesses.