Collaboration in manufacturing networks

Collaboration in manufacturing networks


Manufacturing is under going tremendous transformation process. Build to order, speed and engagement with consumer are most important competitive factors. The challenge for manufacturing companies is to lower cost of products. At the same time, customers’ demand is mass-customization, which potentially increasing the cost. The speed of one click manufacturing process can change value chain economics and change the way companies will organize manufacturing processes. One of the trends I’m watching for last few years is a shift towards connected processes in which multiple companies are getting engaging into coordinated manufacturing activity using internet and other online services and tools. Catch up on earlier writing about this topic in almost 2 years old blog post – One click manufacturing will help to revice old fashion PLM-ERP integration.

I’m not sure PLM and ERP systems used by multiple companies are capable to perform such level of integration and coordination these days. After all, most of these tools are old database driven applications. However, things are clearly starting to move in this direction. The opportunity to have connected manufacturing experience drives interests from large software vendors as well as startups. And I wanted to share few examples.

Siemens announced Part Manufacturing Platform. Navigate to the following TenLinks article to read more.

The part manufacturing platform, being developed by Siemens’ product lifecycle management (PLM) software business and announced at Hannover Messe 2017, will provide an environment capable of connecting all members of the global manufacturing community in order to maximize resource utilization, access additive manufacturing expertise and expand business opportunity. For example, by linking part buyers to micro-factories, the platform would enable members to 3D print production parts on-demand where-needed across the world. In addition, the platform will include collaborative capabilities to help streamline the co-innovation process and accelerate the adoption of 3D printing as a mainstream production method for industrial parts.

Another announcement from SAP coming from Hanover Messe – New SAP Distributed Manufacturing application connects engineers with 3D printing service providers:

SAP says that SAP Distributed Manufacturing, part of the SAP Leonardo portfolio for the Internet of Things (IoT), will provide a “scalable process for manufacturers to collaborate with 3D printing companies, service and materials providers, and OEMs in open or private environments.” Integrating with SAP S/4HANA (SAP’s business software suite), SAP Distributed Manufacturing supports the entire end-to-end, quote-to-contract process, helping users to develop a part using additive manufacturing. “As 3D printing technology advances beyond prototyping, more companies are rethinking their manufacturing and supply networks to take advantage of cost-effective local production, customization and rapid delivery to meet changing customer expectations,” said Dr. Tanja Rueckert, executive vice president of IoT and Digital Supply Chain at SAP.

The Engineer article – From CAD to product in quick time outlines Plethora – A factory at you fingertips. Plethora is a startup company focusing how to make the whole product development lifecycle faster. Here is the passage I captured:

Plethora helps avoid the prolonged dialogue that often takes place between designers and manufacturers. Communication between the two can bounce back and forth multiple times before anything is achieved, with discussions over price, quantity, materials, and shipping all necessary. With Plethora, a user knows immediately if the company can fulfill a design, how much it will cost, and when it will be delivered. “We have a piece of software that lives inside SolidWorks, and it’s basically able to analyse your designs,” said Herrman. “You download our software, click one button to analyse the part, and it will tell you if our factory is able to make it and give you helpful feedback. Our software knows everything about our factory. It knows every tool that we have, every material, every piece of stock that we have, as well as all of our capacity to know if we’re going to be able to make it.

What is my conclusion? Connectivity and data can change the way manufacturing is done in 21st century. Low cost and speed can be achieved by more efficient communication, data analytic and integration between engineering and manufacturing data. Data management connecting design, supply networks and manufacturing facilities together is a future of manufacturing networks. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of openBoM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased

Image credit Plethora webiste


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