Supply chain revolution is on the way

ICIS Jul15Imagine a world where your local garage uses 3D printing to provide you with a new car bumper. You have had a bump in a car park, and just want to get it fixed.

Unlike today, there’ll be no more waiting for the part to arrive. The garage will simply download the design from the internet, and print the new bumper whilst you wait.

And this will be good news for the manufacturer as well.  They won’t have stock sitting for years, tying up cash and tempting thieves to steal it.

Does this sound like a science fiction fantasy?  Well it isn’t.  Boeing, the aircraft manufacturer are already using 3D printing to replace 20k spare parts.  And earlier this year they filed a patent application relating to the database they have developed for tracking these parts.

Of course, its more expensive per part to manufacture locally that at their HQ in Seattle.  But the cost of manufacture is only a small part of the actual cost – and it is minimal compared to keeping 400 passengers waiting overnight from a grounded 747, let alone the airline’s cost in disrupted schedules.

This is the subject of my latest video interview with ICB deputy editor, Will Beacham.  As he summarises the discussion:

“A supply chain revolution will take place which will create opportunities for innovative chemicals companies, according to Paul Hodges, chairman of consultancy International eChem.

“Automotive and aerospace manufacturers are already moving towards a manufacturing model where spare parts are printed locally to order rather than centrally to be held for years in warehouses.

“Chemical companies which respond to new business models like this will be the winners, according to Hodges, who also writes the Chemicals & the Economy blog for ICIS.

“Forward-thinking CEOs will also take notice of changing demand patterns caused by demographic trends such as the aging population in mature and emerging economies, he adds. 

“Oil prices are in the “middle of a journey” from high to sustained low levels. Demand will falter as economies move away from reliance on fossil fuels, meaning much oil will be left in the ground. For this reason many major producing countries are ramping up production and are likely to maintain high levels. Low oil prices are good for chemicals demand because they put money in consumers’ pockets, says Hodges.”

Please click here to view the interview.

Please click here to download the full article from ICIS Chemical Business.

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