Supercharg3d: How 3D Printing Will Drive Your Supply Chain by Len Pannett

The Blurb On The Back:

A strategic and operational guide to using 3D printing to drive value in the supply chain – featuring case studies and illustrated examples from across industries.

After many years as a tool for designers, 3D printing today promises to revolutionise supply chains.  Cut through the hype and hyperbole, and it becomes clear that it offers unprecedented potential to redesign supply chain models, simplifying and shrinking them, enabling previously unimaginable designs to be produced where they are most needed.  However, adopting it is a strategic endeavour, one that involves the consideration of several wider implications.

This book goes beyond touting the latest technological advances or listing the many wonderful things that 3D printing is being used to make.  It teaches readers what is important about 3D printing, why they need to prepare for its emergence today, and how they can go about adopting it.

Supercharg3d: How 3D Printing Will Drive Your Supply Chain shows readers how to drive value in their supply chain by supercharging it – giving it more power – with 3D printing.  Aimed at being a first reference for those in businesses who make strategic decisions on operations and supply chain matters, it takes a pragmatic position, balancing the opportunities that 3D printing presents with the reality of the limitations that it continues to have, so that readers can make the best decisions possible.

– Strategic guide that covers 3D printing and its implications in the supply chain

– Operational guidance and best practices for how and when 3D printing can be adopted

– Identification of 3D printing’s impacts on the individual SCOR supply chain elements

– Features new, transformative supply chain models that are enabled by 3D printing

– Includes case studies and illustrated examples from diverse industries including aerospace (Airbus), energy (Shell), consumer goods (Nike), medical (Align Technology), and transportation (Deutsche Bahn).

Supercharg3d: How 3D Printing Will Drive Your Supply Chain is the go-to book for operations and supply chain decision makers in manufacturing, engineering and technology companies looking to incorporate the technology into their business operations. 

You can order SUPERCHARG3D: HOW 3D PRINTING WILL DRIVE YOUR SUPPLY CHAIN by Len Pannett from Amazon UKWaterstone’s or UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

Len Pannett is a management engineer and operations implementation expert with over 25 years’ experience in supply chain management.  This is a clearly written, easy-to-follow, thoughtful and even-handed look at 3D printing and the advantages and disadvantages that it offers for manufacturing businesses with Pannett using case studies and examples from a number of different industries to illustrate his points. 

I came into this book knowing very little about 3D printing other than what I’ve seen in science and news programmes (and even then, it was some time ago) and I also had limited (albeit more recent) experience of supply chain management for manufacturing.  Pannett has written this book for those with experience of supply chain who are interested in looking at the transformational potential of 3D printing and how it could fit into their operations.  However, this is not a book that’s heavy on jargon and Pannett is a clear communicator who takes care to explain processes and possibilities and as such anyone who is new to either area can learn a lot in this book.  Certainly, coming at it as someone who tends to be involved on the legal side of things, I’ve learned a great deal that’s of use to my practice.

Pannett sets out what the features and capabilities of 3D printing are, which I found particularly interesting because it’s moved on so much from when I first became aware of it.  I was particularly interested to read of the capability to print using metal and the various printing methods for doing so but also in the differences between 3D printing and more traditional manufacturing methods and what that means for inventory and production management.

Pannett carefully goes through all of the key issues that you need to consider if you’re thinking about moving to 3D printing, from where the technology is (realistically) heading to different ways of harnessing it (e.g. buying equipment to leasing it or using outsourced manufacturing centres).  He uses the SCOR model to then analyse the impact of 3D printing on planning, sourcing, making, delivering, returns and enabling and then moves onto different supply chain models, including the key issues surrounding manufacturing at customer sites.  

For me, one of the best sections was where Pannett considers the broader issues surrounding use of 3D printing, including legal, quality management, standards and accreditation, health and safety and fiscal and financial impacts.  This is where Pannett’s experience in industry really comes to the form and he writes well (without condescending to the reader) about subjects such as tariffs, intellectual property and regulation in a way that makes clear what the issues are together with the current state of play.  I particularly liked how clear-eyed he is about the topics and where the blocks are and he raised interesting points about the changes that 3D printing bring to the workforce as it demands fewer staff with more maintenance skills and how companies can help to manage this.  Equally good is how he urges consultation and involvement with workforces both to identify real possibilities for where 3D printing can be brought into the supply chain and to re-skill them.

Pannett makes good use of case studies and examples throughout the book and there’s a whole chapter devoted to Deutsche Bahn and where it brought in 3D printing, which I found fascinating because it highlights where 3D printing can make the most impact.  In this case, Deutsche Bahn had rolling stock that needed simple parts that were no longer available (either because the manufacturer was no longer in business or was no longer making the part) and so for small parts that were out of IP protection, they turned to 3D printing, saving them money and time.  Also interesting was his use of Invisalign, which uses 3D printing to make braces for people

All in all, I found this to be a really interesting read that taught me a lot about two areas I had a very cursory knowledge/awareness of in a clear way that was easy to follow.  I think that this is essential reading for anyone with an interest in either 3D printing possibilities or supply chain management for manufacturing and cannot recommend it too highly. 

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

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