Despite the widespread expectation that additive manufacturing (AM) will become a disruptive technology to transform the spare parts supply chain, very limited research has been devoted to the quantitative modeling and analysis on how AM could fulfill the on-demand spare parts supply. On the other hand, the choice of using AM as a spare parts supply strategy over traditional inventory is a rising decision faced by manufacturers and requires quantitative analysis for their AM-or-stock decisions. The purpose of this paper is to develop a quantitative performance model for a generic powder bed fusion AM system in a spare parts supply chain, thus providing insights into this less-explored area in the literature.
In this study, analysis based on a discrete event simulation was carried out for the use of AM in replacement of traditional warehouse inventory for an on-demand spare parts supply system. Generic powder bed fusion AM system was used in the model, and the same modeling approach could be applied to other types of AM processes. Using this model, the impact of both spare parts demand characteristics (e.g. part size attributes, demand rates) and the AM operations characteristics (e.g. machine size and postpone strategy) on the performance of using AM to supply spare parts was studied.
The simulation results show that in many cases the AM operation is not as cost competitive compared to the traditional warehouse-based spare parts supply operation, and that the spare parts size characteristics could significantly affect the overall performance of the AM operations. For some scenarios of the arrival process of spare parts demand, the use of the batched AM production could potentially result in significant delay in parts delivery, which necessitates further investigations of production optimization strategies.
The findings demonstrate that the proposed simulation tool can not only provide insights on the performance characteristics of using AM in the spare parts supply chain, especially in comparison to the traditional warehousing system, but also can be used toward decision making for both the AM manufacturers and the spare parts service providers.
Zhang, Y., Jedeck, S., Yang, L. and Bai, L. (2019), "Modeling and analysis of the on-demand spare parts supply using additive manufacturing", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. 25 No. 3, pp. 473-487. https://doi.org/10.1108/RPJ-01-2018-0027
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