UPS rolls out plan for full-scale on-demand 3D printing manufacturing network

This network is comprised of a multifaceted approach that will mesh its global logistics network with 3D printers at more than 60 U.S.-based The UPS Store locations and a collaboration with SAP to foster an end-to-end industrial offering that will mesh SAP’s supply chain offerings with Big Brown’s on-demand manufacturing services and global logistics network.

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UPS this week said it is launching a full-scale on-demand 3D printing manufacturing network.

This network is comprised of a multifaceted approach that will mesh its global logistics network with 3D printers at more than 60 U.S.-based The UPS Store locations and in conjunction with the On Demand Production Platform and 3D printing factory from Fast Radius, a provider of on-demand part manufacturing and an additive manufacturing company.

UPS also said it will partner up with technology powerhouse SAP to foster an end-to-end industrial offering that will mesh SAP’s supply chain offerings with Big Brown’s on-demand manufacturing services and global logistics network in an effort to simplify the industrial manufacturing process from digitization, certification, order-to-manufacturing and delivery.

“UPS is a leader in bringing industrial-strength 3D printing to reality. By building this disruptive technology into our supply chain models, we also bring new value to our manufacturing customers of all sizes,” said Stan Deans, president, UPS Global Distribution & Logistics, in a statement. “Additive manufacturing technology is still developing rapidly so ‘manufacturing as a service’ is a smart approach for many companies.”

UPS has been expanding on-demand manufacturing capabilities for the last two years beginning with more than 60 of the UPS Store’s having 3D printing capabilities for small businesses, designers and entrepreneurs.

In 2015, UPS invested in Fast Radius (formerly CloudDDM), with Atlanta-based Fast Radius putting its production plant in the heart of UPS’s Louisville supply chain campus, just minutes from the UPS global air hub, WorldPort, according to a UPS spokesman. The value of the end-of-runway locations means orders can be manufactured up to the 1 a.m. pickup time and still be delivered anywhere in the U.S. the next morning, he explained.

UPS said that 3D printing services have been offered in The UPS Store locations going back to July 2013, when it launched a pilot program at six store locations and became the first retailer to make 3D printing service available in-store. And based on the success of The UPS Store 3D Print Pilot program, 3D printing services expanded to multiple locations in September 2014 (3D printing is now available at 62 The UPS Store locations nationally).

In terms of customer benefits, UPS said this effort will benefit customers of all types and sizes, including: manufacturers wanting to reduce inventory for slow-moving parts; manufacturers with short production runs where the cost to create the mold or tooling could make these orders too expensive for traditional manufacturing; manufacturers and retailers of custom/semi-custom goods as additive manufacturing allows cost-effective customization of goods; industrial designers and engineers who want high quality rapid prototypes delivered as fast as one day; and entrepreneurs, start-ups and manufacturers who don’t currently have access to 3D printers or have limited capital and time and will use 3D printing for rapid prototyping and manufacturing of initial production runs.

As for the collaboration with SAP, the spokesman said that the agreement between UPS and SAP “marks the next stage in our on-demand manufacturing journey by connecting the critical front-end procurement process to our on-demand manufacturing expertise and delivery network,” adding that UPS and SAP began discussions in summer of 2015.

“Between now and the first quarter of 2017, UPS and SAP will be working with co-innovation partners Jabil Circuits and Moog to develop the solution,” the UPS spokesman said. “When it’s completed, Jabil and Moog would determine through their SAP software what the optimal solution is for parts inventory.  It will be as simple as a push of the button for the decision.  Before then, we’ll be working to digitizing inventory, test and certify product quality from 3D printing – all the things that have to be done before going full scale.”

And he explained that the planned integrated solution is made up a three key services, including:
-Order-Digitize and simplify the production part approval process through SAP.  By accelerating and standardizing the process both companies believe a significantly greater number of 3D print-ready production parts will be approved and certified and can be ordered through UPS On-Demand Manufacturing with full integration into SAP’s Manufacturing and Procurement processes;
-Choose-Automatically quantify the financial viability of 3D printing vs. traditional procurement or manufacturing options on a host of real-time manufacturing and batch specific parameters (e.g. tax calculations, shipping costs, etc.) enabling real-time decisions on the optimal supply chain path for every parts order; and
-Make and Deliver-Seamlessly route the order to UPS for production and delivery.  UPS end-of-runway manufacturing can get most orders sent by 7 pm manufactured and delivered anywhere in the U.S. by the next morning.  Companies will be able to track their order right from their SAP system

About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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Article Topics

3D Printing · SAP · UPS · All Topics
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