As a supply manager, you know the list well. There are potential geopolitical challenges facing the sourcing of raw materials. China, for example, controls most of the world’s production of cobalt, which is vital to the lithium batteries found in electric vehicles. Then, there are logistics and transportation issues such as shipping container and truck driver shortages. And of course, there’s COVID-19—are we post-pandemic yet? Not to mention, the Russia-Ukraine War, which is now in its second year. The list goes on.
This litany of almost constant supply chain challenges, as noted in this timely survey conducted by a digital network team at Hubs, underscores a growing need for companies to find fast and nimble suppliers that can successfully navigate these challenges.
In the world of manufacturing, more companies turning to digital manufacturing services because deliver speed, agility, and both regional and global supply capabilities.
High Tech Delivers Speed to Power On-Demand Production
Digital manufacturers are fast, and this speed is enabled by technology.
Start by getting a price quote for a part using a full e-commerce platform. Using e-commerce for ordering parts has made the experience as easy as buying a book or Bluetooth speaker on Amazon.com. Supply chain managers, product designers, engineers, and others can carry out the process quickly and on demand. Manufacturing e-commerce system allows for customization and real-time revisions of a part’s design, as it moves through the quoting, design review, ordering, and manufacturing processes.
Connecting automated front-end price quoting to every stage in the part or product lifecycle through a real-time digital thread, a continuous stream of data, which is made possible by a tech-enabled, automated, and connected infrastructure. In other words, the technology seamlessly links up the front-end ordering process to the back-end physical machines networked on the manufacturing floor.
The result? Manufacturing is accelerated. Turnaround is fast. You get price quotes in hours and custom parts in days. In many cases, it means we deliver on-demand production service, not unlike the on-demand standard we’ve all come to expect in these days of ridesharing, mobile banking, and of course, online shopping.
Agility Through a Manufacturing Platform of Options
Companies needing manufacturing suppliers will either work directly with a manufacturer or find one through a network of suppliers.
First, as a digital manufacturer, four manufacturing services were being offered: injection molding, CNC machining, 3D printing (additive manufacturing), and sheet metal fabrication. Within 3D printing, we support six additive manufacturing options. A range of industries uses all of these services for producing parts, including sectors such as aerospace, automotive, medical/health care, and consumer products.
Best of Both Worlds: Regional and Global Supply Strategies
Finally, in the supply chain universe, there has been a lot of discussion about the breakdown of world markets, offshoring vs. onshoring, of international vs. regional suppliers. A hybrid model is the best of both worlds.
What does it mean? The hybrid approach allows it to serve as a one-stop manufacturer to meet the timeline, volume, pricing, and capability needs. If speed is not of the essence, the international network of manufacturers may be the best option to deliver on your priorities. Sometimes, that option can take advantage of lower piece-part costs, which is the prime reason many companies look overseas in the first place. At the same time, regional suppliers can be used. The U.S.-based digital factories let you take advantage of a supply source that’s closer to the point of production and consumption.
The result of combining the best of both worlds is that customers benefit from a fast and agile supply source, thereby strengthening their overall supply chain.