The additive manufacturing industry creates complex designs, produces lightweight parts that not only deliver high performance but also are strong. However, there are some limitations to the technology in terms of size limitations, scalability limitations, high material costs, and order management issues. As a result, order management for additive manufacturing becomes an essential component of the workflow.
When implementing a scalable workflow, many additive manufacturing companies overlook this crucial stage. Many additive manufacturing businesses are typically stymied by inefficient, manual processes that slow down the entire workflow.
This article discusses the most important aspects of order management in the additive manufacturing industry.
Order Management For Additive Manufacturing
1. Order Management Bottlenecks
Order management serves as the gap bridge between product development and the production stage. Upon the creation of the design, the next step is submitting a request to the additive manufacturing department or company for the part’s manufacturing, such as an automotive, appliance or aircraft component.
While order management is seemingly a straightforward concept, this process can become complex, especially without a standardised way to handle requests. Production managers and machine operators eventually experience an overwhelming flow of orders. Also, sorting and prioritising requests become tedious, causing production schedule confusion.
The order management for additive manufacturing departments and companies includes using spreadsheets, emails, and custom-built solutions. For instance, users must fill out spreadsheet documents with the part’s requirements and send design files as email attachments.
However, this existing order management process isn’t suitable if you handle large orders and projects. Even if you embrace a custom-built solution, creating and maintaining an internal web portal, where engineers and designers can send files and machine operators schedule projects, can be costly. Hence, spreadsheets, emails, and custom-built solutions can become a nightmare.
2. Optimise Order Fulfilment With Warehouse Execution System
Optimising order fulfilment is possible with the help of a warehouse execution system (WES). This technology changes how additive manufacturing companies fulfils orders by automating order release and shipping schedules, simulating planning and allocating resources, and managing and controlling order fulfilment in one place.
Here’s how WES optimises order management for additive manufacturing:
- WES leverages machine learning, data analytics, and automation to make intelligent real-time decisions, reducing dwell times and supporting flow distribution.
- WES optimises order fulfilment without a full warehouse management system replacement.
- WES maximises picking performance, and plans and releases orders depending on factors such as order priority, replenishment status, inventory availability, travel distance, batch or cluster picking opportunities, and more.
Many solution providers optimize order fulfillment in the wholesale distribution, retail, consumer goods, and additive manufacturing sectors, among many others, through their advanced WES, such as Softeon’s warehouse execution system.
3. Automate Order Management for Additive Manufacturing with Workflow Software
If you find tracking requests throughout your production lifecycle challenging, it’s about time to automate your order management using workflow software. Using the right workflow solution helps save time on manual submission through automation. This tool helps improve communications and standardize submission requirements.
Workflow software allows you to create an end-to-end workflow and connect the request submission phase to the production, logistics, and other additive manufacturing processes. It ensures a scalable process adopted by different locations and promotes distributed additive manufacturing.
Workflow software providers offer excellent customer and technical support for their clientele in the additive manufacturing industry. Training is a part of their inclusive services or packages plans to reduce or eliminate manual tasks and improve collaboration and productivity.
4. Keep Up With The Demand
Additive manufacturing creates durable parts based on clients’ desired specifications. This technology has become the go-to manufacturing solution for many component products nowadays.
Strengthening order management in additive manufacturing can help keep up the demand for three-dimensional (3D) printed parts. Many applications and industries rely on additive manufacturing, such as aviation, automotive, healthcare, and education.
For instance, small samples or prototypes can be used in teaching or understanding a complex scientific or engineering topic in class. While creating prototypes is possible using computer numerical control (CNC), running CNC can be costly. With additive manufacturing, creating prototypes is comparatively cheaper.
Because of the significant demand for 3D printed parts, additive manufacturing departments and companies must embrace state-of-the-art technology, such as WES and workflow software. In that way, they can produce more 3D printed components for industries to create more useful products.
The traditional order management process doesn’t apply to large-volume projects. Order management for additive manufacturing involves embracing advanced technology to automate order fulfilment for accuracy, real-time monitoring, and quality services. By doing so, companies can save time, effort, and resources in manufacturing products for different applications and industries that can help improve people’s lives.
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