SAP, along with partners such as UPS, are moving their vision for on-demand manufacturing another step forward by making the SAP Distributed Manufacturing application available to customers as part of an early access initiative.
SAP and UPS’ distributed manufacturing collaboration melds SAP supply chain solutions, Internet of Things technologies and machine learning capabilities along with UPS designed additive manufacturing capabilities and logistics networks to enable companies to tap into the advantages of on-demand manufacturing. The initiative, part of SAP’s Leonardo IoT portfolio, promises to deliver an end-to-end digital manufacturing process and network aimed at helping manufacturers leverage 3D printing technologies more broadly and efficiently to accelerate product development and fuel internal innovation, according to SAP officials.
Against a backdrop of ever changing customer demand, SAP, UPS and its partners are positioning their Distributed Manufacturing solution as way for companies to reduce parts inventory, enable more cost-effective short production and prototype runs, and bring new products to market quickly by facilitating fast and flexible production capabilities. Specifically, SAP officials contend the solution makes 3D printing an integral part of an industrial production line without requiring companies to make significant investments in costly additive manufacturing (AM) technologies while affording flexibility for producing out-of-stock production parts to enhance customer satisfaction and enabling one-off orders on custom or semi-custom parts.
Here’s how it works: Instead of building out AM facilities, manufacturers tapping into the Distributed Manufacturing solution gain access to a network of SAP partners and 3D printing hubs so they can tap these production capabilities when needed at a local level to expedite delivery and optimize efficiency. Consider the example SAP gives of a medical device maker able to deliver a component customized to the needs of an individual patient without having to make the item at a factory located somewhere across the world and having to incur excessive time delays related to shipping. With the SAP Distributed Manufacturing solution in place, the production would automatically be channeled to a local 3D printing service partner, which could produce and deliver the parts on demand far more efficiently and at less cost, company officials say.
Currently SAP has 28 co-innovation partners signed up to participate in the early access program and plans to expand it further before the Distributed Manufacturing solution is available later this year.
The ramped up effort comes on the heels of a surge in 3D printing adoption. SAP cites figures from Wohlers Associates that projects the 3D printing market to grow 30% annually through 2020, surging from $7.3 billion in 2016 to $21 billion by 2020. Companies are flocking to 3D printing to produce functional parts (29%), make prototypes (18%), create visual aids (10%), as well as producing tool molds (10%).
Already, there are some big name companies taking the SAP/UPS Distributed Manufacturing platform for a spin. Airbus APWorks, Fast Radius, HP, Krones, Linear AMS, Moog Inc., Sealed Air Corporation and Stratasys, among others, have all participated in the early-stage production environment.
To find out more about SAP/UPS Distributed Manufacturing Solution, check out this video.