Last month, we participated in the AM for Defense Conference, a virtual event which offered a window into the innovative uses of Additive Manufacturing in the defense industry. Our CEO, Tibor van Melsem Kocsis, joined our customer Maj. Stephan Wildenberg from the Dutch Armed Forces on stage to share insights from their transition to digital warehousing.
Change management is the top obstacle to AM adoption
When you decide to transition from a traditional supply chain to digital inventory, there are several hurdles you need to overcome. But perhaps the most important one is change management. Often, business targets don’t sync up with individual objectives or the way your team is used to doing things. An example of this is how “latency” is solved in traditional supply chains by stocking up warehouses. In other words, because some parts have a long lead time or may be difficult to purchase, companies tend to build up excess inventory. This often leads to 60-80% non-moving stock. It ties up working capital and ends up being more expensive in the long run. Changing people’s mindset to adopt a leaner approach is not always easy.
Another obstacle is seeing AM as a technology or an end in itself, rather than as an integrated approach (and a means to an end). Ultimately, companies should adopt 3D printing where it makes sense from a cost and technical perspective. Using data to get people on the same page can be helpful. Suddenly, departments that, seemingly, have different goals and interests can be mobilized around a shared objective. We’ve noticed that being able to analyze thousands of data points to select the parts that are most suited for AM helps teams get much-needed alignment. Discussing these data points and extracting insights becomes a helpful exercise and results in a transversal approach. Colleagues who previously did not interact suddenly speak to each other and collaborate more closely.
How the Dutch Armed Forces approached this challenge
As Maj. Wildenberg explained during his presentation, the Dutch Armed Forces took a very focused approach to enable AM adoption, working with DiManEx as a partner that supported the transition. They recommend the following best practices:
For them, using DiManEx’s analytics engine, Supply Chain Inspector, was key to select the right parts for AM. They also leveraged our end-to-end workflow solution to go from part assessment to part delivery, including quality control and testing.