Digital Manufacturing | Robust Supply Chain For Custom Injection Molding

Digital Manufacturing | Robust Supply Chain For Custom Injection Molding

Rapid Digital Manufacturing: Linking Plastic Injection Molding To The Global Supply Chain

Digital manufacturing is critical for achieving one of the post-pandemic goals: a robust and sustainable supply chain. One that can maintain the flow of business in any global climate.

This is because it links all areas of production. Digital manufacturing uses technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and Machine Learning (ML) to connect services, supply chains, products, and processes.

In doing so, it provides greater visibility into the entire supply chain. And this level of insight helps companies to identify (and predict) potential kinks in the supply chain.

Essentially, smarter manufacturing.

And now, as we emerge from a global pandemic that exposed alarming weaknesses in the supply chain, we are finding new ways that digital manufacturing can enable a robust supply chain.

For example, choosing a rapid manufacturing partner that leverages digital manufacturing. Never thought about digital manufacturing and your manufacturing partners in the same sentence? Think again.

What is rapid manufacturing?

Rapid or digital manufacturing is a natural progression from traditional manufacturing. The capabilities afforded by digitization, automation and data connectivity translate into reduced costs, and increased efficiencies. These capabilities can even be used in injection molding.

So how does it work? Each process step is streamlined to accommodate quicker turnaround times with low-cost automated solutions.

Digital manufacturing process for plastic injection molding

The process is entirely digitized. First, request a custom injection molding quote and upload a 3D CAD file onto our servers. Next, part geometry and requirements are analyzed using our proprietary software. Then, an interactive quote is available online.

Upon approval an order is generated and the mold design is finalized within hours – together with the toolpath programming.

Using modular construction and standardized components, mold components are then machined, usually within a few days. After benching and mold finishing, the tool is assembled for first shots and inspection.

This process, achieved through rapid molding, will give your part a lead time of weeks instead of months. The average price? A fraction of the cost for traditional molding.

The capacity that’s available for you to get your part made? Your lead time is always the priority. It’s made in the USA with as many sourced mold materials and resins that can be procured in the allotted time.

As a result, digital manufacturing naturally accelerates every step of the process and reduces the labor intensity while driving the scale of your project.

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Digital manufacting: scale production to meet market demand

Post-COVID-19 we are faced with uncertainties in the market. Digital manufacturing enables us to scale production to help you meet market demand.

For example, consider a complex syringe. It may consist of three, distinct injection-molded parts. Before new production runs are needed to meet supply and demand, the product manager may have a revision to one of the components, driven by departmental standards.

In traditional manufacturing, the retooling investment may push the break- even manufacturing numbers into the thousands – a cost-prohibitive change for many smaller businesses. Digital manufacturing, in comparison, can implement that small design change for approximately a quarter of the investment in a quarter of the time.

Our unique ability to accommodate complex designs is our asset

Your designers have fewer roadblocks, freeing them to work on new projects instead of going back to the drawing board to modify their designs so they can be produced.

Rapid results let your team respond quickly to market requirements with the best product they can design – a competitive edge that keeps your company on top. Without design rework or months-long lead times, innovation can boost your company’s results.

Two optional digital manufacturing services: inspection and project management

The digital manufacturing process at Xcentric is a very rapid and seamless process. The key components of this process include cost, quality, automation and speed to market, which allows customers to go through the iteration process once or numerous times, if necessary, at a very quick speed. By following these steps, customers can maintain their existing quality controls, while developing good parts getting them to market faster.

There are two optional services in this process: inspection and project management.

Digital inspection allows for rapid feedback and tool modifications, if necessary. Experienced Tooling Engineers interface directly with designers during the entire process, providing expert advice and problem solving at any time, which is critical to ensure successful and fast product manufacturing.

In fact, shorter lead times from concept to development can create new-market discoveries. Previously untapped revenue streams that were potentially out of reach can be viable, thanks to new technologies, transforming how companies like yours do business.

Low-cost tooling, development and production have been streamlined so low-production runs are economical enough to test on select markets and use the feedback as an optimized learning curve.

Should demand rapidly increase, the rapid manufacturing process can transition between low-volume to mass production. In turn, that allows you to react to market behaviors quickly and easily, reduce your time to market for increased competitiveness and resolve any potential problems before they impact your shipments.

In instances where production inadvertently slows, rapid manufacturing allows you to make adjustments while still achieving the lowest total cost. That means regardless of the market’s volatility, rapid manufacturing lets you respond accordingly.

Digital manufacturing offers benefits across multiple touchpoints: reducing your time to market, labor overhead and asset utilization, giving you more opportunities for quality control and inventory management. These advantages allow you to explore new revenue streams, develop and enhance innovative designs and respond to market demands. The digital age can transform your company and give your designers the freedom they need to create, develop and enhance in one streamlined methodology. The future is here. Make it work for you.

 

Working on a project?

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How To Build A Sustainable Supply Chain Post-COVID-19

How To Build A Sustainable Supply Chain Post-COVID-19

Supply Chain: More Sustainable and Agile After COVID-19

COVID-19 put a kink in the global supply chain. And it exposed weaknesses with the power to halt the flow of business. Now, as the world takes steps to define a new business-as-usual post-pandemic, manufacturers are rethinking their supply chain.

As a result, instead of relying on overseas suppliers, companies are exploring opportunities to create a more robust and sustainable supply chain closer to home. One with the flexibility to meet changing production needs, and the accessibility to do so with greater reliability.

Now, manufacturers must begin the process for establishing a more resilient supply chain that can endure the unexpected and continue to thrive during times of uncertainty.

To build such a supply chain, a manufacturer’s plan should include three essential components:

  1. Improve supply chain visibility
  2. Partner with suppliers that can quickly scale production
  3. Prepare an action plan for transforming to a more digital ecosystem

Gain Real-time Supply Chain Visibility 

Real-time visibility is one of the most sought-after ideals for optimizing the flow of goods and services. For one, it enables supply chain managers to track products from the source of raw materials to the final destination. Also, it empowers companies to seamlessly adapt to disruptions and serve customers with greater confidence.

For example, Forbes published a recent Oxford Economics survey of 1,000 supply chain executives. It found that 49% of Supply Chain Leaders can capture real-time data insights and act on them immediately. 51% use AI and predictive analytics to capture insights. This enables Supply Chain Leaders to react in real time to changing conditions. From widescale disruptions to individual customer complaints.[1]

Of course, achieving this degree of end-to-end visibility has always been a challenge—long before COVID-19. Now, faced with the reality of critical vulnerabilities brought to light by the pandemic, learning how to restructure relationships with suppliers will help companies to better understand the impact of disruptions and react accordingly.

Build A Transparent Supply Network: Top 3 Tactics 

Whether you opt to reshore or rely on overseas suppliers, approaching venders as part of a supply network rather than a chain can help to increase visibility. Networking will help to build collaborative, transparent relationships to facilitate proactive decision-making.

Therefore, to help increase visibility with your suppliers, consider these three tactics:

  1. Understand the pain points of your customers, internal teams, and suppliers.
    Prepare a process for gathering pain points that impact your customers, internal teams, and suppliers. For example, set a cadence for distributing a quarterly survey to establish an open line of communications. By understanding specific pain points, you can react quicker and more effectively to mitigate risk to your supply chain.
  2. Invest in technology and systems to optimize communications and provide easy access to critical assets.
    COVID-19 served as a catalyst for many businesses to rethink their supply chain and relationships with suppliers. For example, optimize methods for communicating critical assets and intel between suppliers, internal teams, and critical stakeholders. Invest in technology and systems to create greater transparency and make it easier to communicate essential information.
  3. Set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for success.
    Define terms and conditions of a successful vendor relationship. First, identify key suppliers. Then, set clear KPIs to enable real-time tracking of inventory, services, and production capabilities. Measure them on a regular basis. This will provide a more transparent view of suppliers’ flexibility to scale production as needed.

For more information about supply chain KPIs, visit Logistic Bureau’s blog, KPI Key Performance Indicators in Supply Chain & Logistics. You’ll learn best practices for setting KPIs, tips for implementing a hierarchy structure, and additional resources.

Partner With Suppliers That Can Quickly Scale Production

Headlines announcing crisis-level disruption to the heart of electronics manufacturing in China due to the Coronavirus surfaced on CNBC as early as February. Leaders in the industry explained that many consumer goods manufacturers in the U.S. could miss holiday deadlines. Because with factories closed in China, they could not manufacture prototypes, complete testing, or ramp up to full production. As a result, the pandemic created a great deal of market uncertainty that individuals and industries are still struggling to navigate.

For example, many consumers are already experiencing decreased disposable income. Which makes it difficult for consumer goods and electronics manufacturers to predict with confidence production volumes needed to meet the upcoming holiday season.

Design Challenges?

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Therefore, manufacturers must consider suppliers that can quickly scale production as market demands change.

Minimize costs with a flexible production model

Choose suppliers who can help minimize initial costs with an economical, flexible production model. This can help get back on schedule for the holiday season while minimizing the risk of uncertain demand. Look for suppliers who have the ability to quickly ramp up if demand surges and support lower volumes at price points that don’t damage profits if demand does not return to normal.

For example, consider Xcentric, a leading rapid manufacturer in the U.S. We provide first parts within a few short weeks and can quickly scale up to supply hundreds of thousands of parts per year. We can also bridge the gap to millions of parts per year to help mitigate risk.

Digitize Your Supply Network

Digitizing your supply chain and transitioning from a traditional, enterprise-focused operating model to a digital ecosystem is a major initiative. It will require substantial investment and restrucutring of your organization. We are including it, because the potential benefits to your supply chain merit sharing the information.

Managing a multi-tiered supply chain will always present a challenge. Still, in a world that runs on technology, preparing an action plan for creating a digital ecosystem and digitizing your supply network can help to build a more robust supply chain.

A traditional business operating system (BOS) functions at the enterprise level. It is a hardwired business model of processes and methods of communication. Alternatively, a network BOS is fully digital. Agile and flexible, it provides an optimized, fully accessible digital ecosystem.

Webinar Replay: Plastic Injection Molding Parts Clinic

Join Xcentric injection molding experts John Sidorowicz and Glen Miller to see common design mistakes and learn how to avoid them in your own part design.

What is a digital ecosystem?

A digital ecosystem uses technology to connect your supply chain. Suppliers, customers, stakeholders, internal teams, applications, third-party data providers, and digital assets. All connected via a network-based system to ensure your supply chain function in any global climate.

Digitizing your supply network helps to create a more resilient supply chain by:

  • Optimizing all members of the ecosystem with real-time visibility and flexibility to connect with all suppliers on the network
  • Providing a single point-of-contact and version of the truth; everyone connected has access to the same information

If you would like to learn more about digitizing your network, please visit Supply & Demand Chain Executive’s post, Intelligent Digital Ecosystems: How to Digitize Your Supply Network. The post does a great job explaining each component of a networked business operating system.

Conclusion and Key Points 

COVID-19 revealed a shockingly fragile global economy. And, it served as a catalyst for many businesses to rethink their supply chain. The unexpected disruption impacted businesses of all sizes in nearly every industry and country. In fact, Fortune reported that 94% of Fortune 1000 companies felt the disruption caused by the Coronavirus. [2] Conversely, the pandemic also showed us how quickly we can adapt to a virtual environment.

Go beyond COVID-19 with a more resilient supply chain. One that can sustain unexpected disruption and thrive in uncertainty. Consider implementing these tactics:

  • Increase real-time visibility into your supply chain. Take time to understand pain points of your customers, internal team, and suppliers
  • Set KPIs you can measure on a regular basis
  • Invest in technology to optimize communications and provide easy access to critical assets
  • Partner with suppliers that can quickly scale production. A flexible, agile supply chain will respond quickly to fluctuations in market demand
  • Digitize your supplier network. Create a digital ecosystem that connects customers, suppliers, and critical stakeholders

 

Working on a project?

Let us help you get that first prototype underway and have that part in your hands in as few as five days. Our engineers help you through the design process. Get your project started now!