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Distributed Manufacturing: If Is This the Future of Part Production

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    From COVID travel bans to never-ending trade wars and fees, the traditional way of manufacturing parts and shipping to various destinations is almost unsustainable in the present world. Even when manufacturers find a way around all these issues, there are the high-cost charges of shipping. However, with the advent of distributed manufacturing, part production companies can go back to business as usual.

    For machinists and manufacturers who are only familiar with the traditional system of manufacturing parts, the distributed manufacturing technology might sound a little strange. You’re probably wondering how this new manufacturing process can bring an end to all your manufacturing nightmares.

    This article will explain all there is to know about distributed manufacturing, how it differs from traditional manufacturing, its various advantages over the latter, and how to run distributed manufacturing successfully. Read this article to the end not to miss any bit of the info.

    Welcome to the Future of Manufacturing

    What is Distributed Manufacturing?

    Distributed manufacturing (also known as distributed production, local manufacturing, or decentralized manufacturing) is generally defined as the production of merchandise close to the source of need.

    how distributed manufacturing works
    The Process of Distributed Manufacturing

    In terms of parts machining, distributed manufacturing is the production of parts close to the clients’ location. Many production companies are leaning towards distributed manufacturing because of their ability to utilize a network of manufacturing facilities located around the world. These facilities are only connected by efficient communication systems powered by online technology.

    Why are Companies Switching to Distributed Manufacturing?

    If you’ve been conversant with the global production processes, you’ll notice the recent trend of companies incorporating distributed manufacturing. However, what is the exact reason why these companies shifted their focus to distributed production? Let’s examine a few reasons:


    This is probably the largest stimulant for most companies to adopt the distributed production process. This is because the travel bans caused by the pandemic have made the transportation of raw materials and finished parts, which is a fundamental part of traditional manufacturing, quite uneasy. However, with distributed production, all companies need to transport is their data through the internet. This way, the local manufacturers in their network can simply manufacture and deliver the product.

    Reduces the Cost of Production

    In the traditional manufacturing process, companies have to pay ridiculously high tariffs for shipping their products around the world. With distributed manufacturing, the budget for transport is drastically cut. This is because manufacturing companies can easily assign tasks to local manufacturers in their network, which are nearby to the source of production. This way, the cost of transport to the needed location will not be as costly.

    It is a More Sustainable Means of Production

    Compared to traditional manufacturing, where most companies have to worry about offloading their physical inventory, distributed manufacturing provides a new way for the production cycle. With local production, companies can leverage the skill and expertise of local manufacturers to fulfill their orders. All they need to send is the design file for the job, and production can start. This way, the mother company can cut out unnecessary production costs.

    How does It Differ from Traditional Manufacturing?

    To start with, what does traditional manufacturing entail? It simply involves manufacturing products and keeping them in warehouses to service surges in client demands or unexpected product shortages. Now, how does this process differ from distributed production?

    Number of Production Facilities

    a typical example of a production facility
    A typical example of a production facility

    Companies that solely use traditional manufacturing for production usually use a central facility for all their production. They then ship their products to where it is needed. However, with distributed manufacturing, these companies leverage the various local manufacturers in their network to deliver their products to clients. The use of decentralized production units is prevalent in distributed production.

    Storage of Products

    Just as the definition explained, companies running the traditional manufacturing process have to keep making their products in excess. This warrants for a need of physical inventories to keep the production process accountable. However, this also leaves them with the problem of having to sell out these products. With distributed manufacturing, production can easily be done after receiving orders. This helps reduce the use of the company’s capital on building physical warehouses to store products.

    Turnaround Times

    Generally, companies operating on the traditional manufacturing method have longer turnaround times. This is because these companies have to service large production volumes, which increases the time it takes to get the batches of products done. However, with distributed manufacturing, the local manufacturers have lower production volumes to deal with and can machine products faster.

    The Advantages of Using Distributed Manufacturing

    Does your company use the traditional method of traditional manufacturing, and you’re scouring for new ways of manufacturing? Here are a few reasons you should try distributed manufacturing:

    Improves Local Economies

    One of the advantages of manufacturing overseas in small cities and towns is that it ends up as a win-win for both the company and the local manufacturer. This is because the company gets to manufacture their parts using lower capital. On the other hand, the local manufacturers get more exposure and expertise on the job, asides from the cash, of course. With more jobs like this, the economy also receives a positive impact as more local manufacturers benefit from the opportunities. This way, the local manufacturers can also help each other grow and contribute to the world of technology even more.

    Faster Turnaround Times

    rapiddirect machinist analyzing a design
    Rapiddirect machinist at work

    This is a significant advantage that comes with using the distributed manufacturing technology. In this jet age, clients want everything done as soon as possible. Distributed production offers an avenue to do justice to that. This is because local manufacturers will machine products and even make revisions way faster than a large company. This way, you can get your parts to your clients faster.

    If the manufacture was for a product gearing for market launch, it is even better. Getting that head start over your competitors, you can bring your products to the market even faster and at an economical price too.

    Offers Cheaper Production Costs

    With traditional manufacturing, a truckload of cash is needed for production as manufacturers have to make large volumes of parts in stock. This method could be a very dangerous approach as any mistake could lead to a waste of millions of dollars. However, distributed manufacturing offers a cheaper production cost as they manufacture in areas where the cost of labor is low, thereby reducing the cost of production.

    Also, manufacturing companies do not have to pay for constant maintenance and operation of machines with distributed production. This process takes up a lot of money as the machines are essential to the manufacturing process. 

    Delivers Parts of Outstanding Quality

    Large manufacturing companies have to produce large batches of parts, most times. As humans operate these machines used for production, there’s a chance for human errors during production. This can lead to a decrease in the quality of products. However, with local manufacturers who have relatively lower orders to fill, you can get a lot of quality and expertise imparted into your production process.

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    Tips for Running a Distributed Manufacturing Process Successfully

    Even though the distributed manufacturing technology seems like a perfect manufacturing method, inappropriate management of the structure could still lead to production failure. Here are a few tips for running your distributed manufacturing process smoothly:

    Data Protection

    One important thing to note is that this system survives on one major component: data. After receiving the client’s design file, the next step is to send the design file to the local manufacturer. Throughout the manufacturing process, there is constant transmission of data between the mother company and the local manufacturer. Protecting this data (also known as your intellectual property) is paramount to your parts production’s success. While there are various applications and software that can help with data protection, one interesting method that companies are now exploring is blockchain technology.

    Efficient Communication Systems

    As much as protecting the data is essential, communication is also very important. Transmission of data back and forth throughout the production process is vital. It helps to communicate the essential ideas needed for the project to be a success. Tools like Microsoft Teams and Salesforce Chatter are good examples of work communication systems.

    an example of a communication system app
    Microsoft Teams

    Repeatability Across Production Facilities

    how to ensure repeatability of quality production
    Flowchart showing how to ensure consistent quality production

    Using multiple production facilities could cause a problem of inconsistency in the production quality of parts. This is obviously a problem every manufacturing company will want to avoid. To avoid that problem of inconsistency, you should set quality parameters for the materials and machines. In this area, efficient communication is also vital to ensure the quality is the same in every production facility.

    Encourage the Use of the Same Technology Platforms

    Another problem that can arise is the use of different technology platforms by the various production facilities. This could lead to complications in communication issues and collation of needed data. With the same communication technology across all facilities, it is way easier to communicate and protect the data transferred on the platform.

    Scout for Good Companies

    All the factors above would become irrelevant if you do not use the right company for production. This is why you need to use the best companies available. At RapidDirect, we offer one of the best quality parameters you’ll find across the globe. Hence, with us, you get the full advantages of manufacturing overseas.  


    rapiddirect machining services
    RapidDirect Machining Services

    Distributed manufacturing is a manufacturing technology that every manufacturing company should incorporate into their structure. However, it is important to have the right organizations in the structure to ensure its success. This is why you need companies like RapidDirect as a production facility for your on-demand part production.

    With us at RapidDirect, you get full and thorough communication right from uploading your design file to the end of production. You can also take advantage of reaching us through our 24/7 online presence. After uploading your design file, we offer an instant quote where you receive your contract’s pricing within minutes. We also offer Design for Manufacture (DfM) for machining projects, where we offer suggestions to better your design and make manufacture cost-effective. Your project will also have teams of engineers and machinists who work on it to make your parts production a success.

    We offer a speedy and stable lead time. Despite the speed with which we handle our projects, we do not reduce our projects’ quality. We strictly implement ISO quality standards in all our production processes. We have also passed the ISO 9001:2015 certification, which stands as a certificate of the high quality we impart into every single project.

    All of this comes at a price lower than the industry average. This is because of the low cost of labor in China, making our production costs very affordable for clients to afford.


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