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Impact of additive manufacturing technology adoption on supply chain management processes and components

Katrin Oettmeier (Chair of Logistics Management, University of St.Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland)
Erik Hofmann (Chair of Logistics Management, University of St.Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland)

Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management

ISSN: 1741-038X

Article publication date: 5 September 2016

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide a systematic analysis about the effects of additive manufacturing (AM) technology adoption on supply chain management (SCM) processes and SCM components in an engineer-to-order environment.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on two explorative case studies from the hearing systems industry, the impact of AM technology adoption on SCM processes and SCM components is investigated. General systems theory and the contingency approach serve as theoretical underpinning.

Findings

Not only the internal processes and management activities, e.g. in manufacturing and order fulfillment, of producers are affected by a changeover to AM, but also the SCM processes and components relating to the supply and demand side of a firm’s supply chain. Endogenous and AM technology-related factors are contingency factors that help to explain differing effects of AM technology adoption on SCM processes and SCM components.

Research limitations/implications

It is proposed that AM’s ability to economically build custom products provides the potential to alleviate the common dilemma between product variety and scale economies.

Practical implications

Manufacturing firms are encouraged to consider the potential effects of AM on SCM processes and SCM components when deciding whether to adopt AM technologies in the production of industrial parts.

Originality/value

The research adds to the widely unexplored effects that AM technology usage in customized parts production has on SCM processes and components. Moreover, the general lack of case studies analyzing the implications of AM technology adoption from a supply chain perspective is addressed. The resulting propositions may serve as a starting point for further research on the impact of AM in engineer-to-order supply chains.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their invaluable and constructive feedback. Furthermore, the authors gratefully acknowledge the valuable comments on earlier versions of this paper from the participants of the NOFOMA 2016 Conference in Turku, Finland.

Citation

Oettmeier, K. and Hofmann, E. (2016), "Impact of additive manufacturing technology adoption on supply chain management processes and components", Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, Vol. 27 No. 7, pp. 944-968. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMTM-12-2015-0113

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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