How to Streamline your Supply Chain with Digital Manufacturing

Summary: How working with digital manufacturing technologies like CNC machining and 3D printing can transform your supply chain.

In the manufacturing world, there is a growing and somewhat inevitable trend towards digital manufacturing and digital supply chains. In such a moment of transition, manufacturers and businesses must adapt to the ways of the future, or soon their old manufacturing processes and supply chains will be outdated and perhaps even obsolete.

Traditionally, supply chains have relied on the basis that raw materials are transformed into products that are then sold to the consumer. Within this chain, there are several links, starting with extraction or gathering of raw materials, the acquiring or processing of raw materials and moving into manufacturing, distribution, and sales. Within this supply chain, most transactions are traditionally handled using manual intervention.

With the advent of digital technologies, many elements of the traditional supply chain have been disrupted or, at the very least, transformed. Automated software and pricing tools have made part ordering far more efficient—both for customers and digital manufacturing services, while the immediacy and cost efficiency of digital manufacturing solutions such as CNC machining and 3D printing has completely transformed inventory requirements.

Today, companies across most industries are interested in digitalizing their production workflows, seeking to benefit from the agility, reliability, and efficiency of the digital supply chain. Still, it can be a challenge to overhaul an entire supply chain and business practices. Thankfully, there are expert rapid prototyping and digital manufacturing services such as RapidDirect, which can help introduce digital manufacturing and supply chain tools.

Positive Impacts of Digital Manufacturing on Supply Chains

In the digital supply chain, there are countless areas we could look at, from GPS tracking and logistics to inventory monitoring and customer support. Today, however, we’ll be honing on one crucial aspect of the digital supply chain: digital manufacturing. In short, digital manufacturing refers to manufacturing systems that are designed to operate in a computerized environment. Some of the most popular and disruptive digital manufacturing processes today include CNC machining and additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing.

As an important piece of the digital supply chain, digital manufacturing processes, such as CNC machining, have several benefits, which we’ll look at below:

•    Lower costs

In certain cases—such as prototyping or small batch production—digital manufacturing technologies like CNC machining or 3D printing can significantly reduce costs. At these levels, there is little need to invest in costly tooling, and CNC machining and 3D printing can be leveraged to produce lower-cost tools suitable for prototyping or lower batch production. In some cases, parts can also be made in small quantities and on-demand using CAD models, eliminating the need for expensive tooling and molds.

•    Fast turnaround times

One of the key advantages of digital manufacturing is its agile nature. Because the machines are computer-driven and increasingly automated, they can run consistently, producing parts at increasingly rapid speeds. At RapidDirect, for instance, we deliver CNC machined components in as little as three days.

•    Higher quality

As a consequence of being computer-controlled and automated, digital production techniques also generally offer higher quality parts. Many state-of-the-art systems integrate machine learning tools which improve the process reliability and performance even more. Further, intelligent inspection technologies guarantee that components meet the tolerances and requirements of the customer.

•    Traceability

An important part of the digital supply chain, which truly sets it apart from traditional supply chains is digital traceability. Instead of relying on machine operators to keep track of and share all steps of the production process, digital manufacturing solutions come with tools that enable companies or CNC machining services to easily track and monitor the production process—from the first customer quote to the final delivery of the part.

Why choose RapidDirect as a Digital Manufacturing Partner?

Like any big change in the industrial landscape, it is sometimes challenging to when or how to transition to new processes and practices. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be a leap of faith: there are many ways to gradually introduce digital manufacturing and supply chain elements. The most effective way is to work with a digital manufacturing service, which can deliver parts made using digital technologies.

RapidDirect, China’s largest manufacturing network offers a comprehensive manufacturing service that includes state-of-the-art CNC machines and 3D printers. As a future-minded company, RapidDirect knows it is important to stay at the cutting edge of new manufacturing technologies, materials, and finishing solutions—we invest in the equipment so our customers don’t have to.

As part of our digital manufacturing service, we offer clients smart and instant quoting. We guarantee that quotes will be available within the hour, enabling our clients to complete the part ordering process faster than ever.

When it comes to manufacturing, a facility that spans 20,000 square meters and houses extensive, end-to-end manufacturing solutions enable RapidDirect to guarantee rapid turnaround and delivery times to its customers. Our broad production capacity also means that your order will remain a priority. 

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