You may find this blog article mind-expanding – especially if your natural reaction is to think about its title in two dimensions, rather than three. To set things straight, we’re not talking about paper printouts of Business Continuity Plans that by definition are out of date the moment they are distributed.
We’re talking instead about 3D printing, which has become a practical reality.
Businesses are finding all sorts of uses for it, including the creation on demand and on location of machine spare parts for maintenance and repair, and therefore increased uptime and greater continuity.
In a recent article on the web, consultancy firm PwC suggests several reasons why enterprises can improve their business continuity by using 3D printing. Suppliers of spare parts can look forward to cost savings: the article suggests that within 10 years, German spare parts suppliers will save 3 billion euros annually by using 3D printing.
Companies purchasing spare parts “will gain a sustainable competitive advantage”, the article says.
Perhaps more specifically, the big benefits are in avoiding having to stock spare parts (inventory costs are often the biggest part of logistics costs overall), while being able to “take delivery” almost instantaneously.
However, suppliers will also need to get on board rapidly enough.
Apparently, 50 percent of customers have investigated the 3D printing of the parts they need, without necessarily consulting their suppliers. Providers who fear losing market share to third party spare parts suppliers will have to find ways of keeping their customers loyal to them, because 3D printing will open the doors to competitors in any case.
And 3D printing is likely to grow still further in popularity, because it enables new, enhanced designs of parts that are difficult or impossible to produce with conventional manufacturing technologies.
Perhaps in the future, enterprises with machines and industrial infrastructure will only have to worry about keeping enough metal alloy/polymer/ceramic/resin (pick your preferred 3D printing material) in stock to be able to keep operating under adverse conditions at significantly lower costs.