It often takes a focusing event like the times that we are currently living in to incentivize an industry or an organization to change. This is an era that requires adaptability and a willingness to evolve and thrive or else wither and die. This week, the President invoked the Defense Production Act in the fight against coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19.
For organizations that produce equipment and items deemed essential to that fight, this could be a make-or-break proposition as the government incentivizes private industry to boost production. For other organizations, it may mean retooling to produce new products. The difficulties in meeting those needs center around how Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) can gracefully scale up their production to meet an unforeseen spike in product demand in a timely manner.
If three technologies come together, then a modern enterprise has the flexibility needed to meet unexpected demand.
- Model-Based Enterprise
- Additive Manufacturing
- 3D Manufacturing Work Instructions
Model-Based Enterprise (MBE) methodologies allow an organization to quickly communicate design requirements to qualified manufacturers by digital means. Many traditional manufacturers still rely on 2D drawings for the communication of their data to their supply chains. The difference is akin to paying bills electronically online versus writing a check and mailing it. MBE methodologies decrease the amount of time needed for communication and ensure that the information is accurate from design through final production. The ability to quickly communicate design requirements in the form of a 3D smart data package enables the wider distribution of design information and reduces slack in the production schedule.
Additive Manufacturing (AM) is still viewed as a novelty in many industries, but it is constantly evolving and provides an advantage over traditional production methods when combined with model-based methodologies. Many organizations optimize their manufacturing capabilities around a small selection of products using traditional trade-based skills. AM production shops are limited only by machine throughput and capabilities. There is no learning or tooling J-curve involved in switching to a different product – even one outside of their current market space. An AM manufacturer by its very nature is capable of taking a digital model and feeding it directly into the machine that makes the part. An OEM that understands the connection between a distributed AM supplier network and digital data distribution inherent in MBE is capable of very quickly scaling part production.
3D Manufacturing Work Instructions
The third element of scaling an OEM’s manufacturing capability is product assembly. The easiest way to scale product assembly is to throw more bodies at the problem, which requires training. A model-based OEM will re-use its engineering data to create interactive digital 3D Manufacturing Work Instructions (MWI). 3D MWI’s reduce the training burden by more effectively and intuitively communicating the requirements so manufacturing can deliver a quality product. The digital distribution of MWI’s ensures that everyone in this stage of the supply chain has the latest information and reduces the lag inherent in a paper-based process.
How does your organization stack up?
The question of how a modern organization can respond gracefully to scale to meet the needs of a spike in demand is answered by the model-based paradigm. A model-based enterprise is more adaptable to a changing environment by possessing the ability to digitally distribute Product and Manufacturing Information (PMI) quickly and without ambiguity. The Additive Manufacturing sector has the capability of directly using that model geometry to manufacture any product with minimal retooling efforts. Additionally, additive manufacturers do not need to be co-located or even regionally central to the OEM to enable a supply chain that is physically resilient to natural disasters. Likewise, Digital 3D Manufacturing Work Instructions also provide scalability and supply chain resilience by democratizing product assembly in a way that reduces training burden and allows for assembly in temporary spaces not co-located with the OEM.
Essentially, the model-based enterprise is scalable, resilient, and capable of distributed manufacturing when and where it is needed most. In response to the Defense Production Act, a model-based enterprise that trusts digital will be uniquely positioned to meet the demands of this challenging time.