Transforming Physical Inventory to Digital

Transforming Physical Inventory to Digital

Azoth 3D has found a way to transform physical inventory into digital inventory. Rather than a massive warehouse to store thousands of spare parts, the company stores 3D design files in a “digital warehouse.” When one of its customers — like John Deere, GM, or Ford — are in need of a spare part, Azoth can 3D print the part in a matter of hours. 

With a physical spare part inventory, items frequently become overstocked. This is due to minimum order quantity requirements that are often placed on producing new parts. Warehouses become full of costly items that sit on the shelves for years, impacting the manufacturers profitability. With 3D printing, many of those spare parts can be stored in a digital file on your computer or in the cloud. When you need the part, you can print it in hours without creating excess quantities. 

Understocked parts are another issue with physical inventories. This is often caused by lengthy lead times to produce the part. A part that would take 10 weeks to be machined can be 3D printed in a day. 3D printing allows for rapid, on-demand production as the parts are needed. No tooling or tool setup is required. Spare parts are never out of stock. 

The concept of a “digital warehouse” is becoming increasingly popular with several companies already reaping the benefits. 

Gerhard Schubert GmbH

Gerhard Schubert is a global leader in packaging machines, and uses a digital inventory to cut lead times for its customers. Rather than printing spare parts itself, Gerhard Schubert has a digital library of spare parts that its customers can access and print on their own 3D printers. Customers do not have to wait for a lengthy machining and delivery process. They can print the exact amount of spare parts they need, whenever they need them, directly in their own shop. 

Daimler

Daimler, the world’s largest truck manufacturer, now uses 3D printing for its spare parts. Daimler’s digital inventory is an economical way to keep parts for older vehicle models that are no longer in production. Thousands of different parts can be stored without the need for a warehouse, and even the oldest models of vehicles can have new parts produced on-demand. Customers are happier with quicker delivery times, and Daimler is able to cut much of its costly inventory expenses. 

Electrolux

The home appliance manufacturer, Electrolux, has implemented a digital warehouse for many of its spare parts. The company seeks out parts that will have the biggest impact on profitability. The goal is to 3D print parts that are less common and end up gathering dust on the warehouse shelf, as well as the parts that can no longer be mass produced. Switching to digital allows Electrolux to significantly reduce inventory costs, labour costs, and lead time.