For the last year or so, enterprise application software provider SAP has been working its way into the 3D printing industry with determination, beginning with a partnership with UPS that helped to integrate 3D printing into the supply chain. Additional partnerships followed with companies including APWorks and Stratasys, all leading up to the introduction of SAP’s newest application: SAP Distributed Manufacturing, which officially launches today with an announcement at Hannover Messe.
SAP Distributed Manufacturing is a collaborative application that began with an early access program, attracting more than 45 customers and service providers already. The application is part of SAP’s Leonardo portfolio for the Internet of Things, and it gives manufacturers the opportunity to collaborate with 3D printing companies as well as OEMs and service and materials providers in an open or private environment, courtesy of the SAP S/4HANA Cloud.
Last week at the Materialise World Summit, we had the opportunity to listen to Gil Perez, SVP, IoT and Digital Supply Chain, SAP, who reiterated what SAP and UPS have known since the beginning of their collaboration: in order for supply chain companies to survive, incorporating 3D printing is a must.
“For large companies to sustain market expectations, to sustain our growth and attractiveness in the market, we have to…innovate, really transform ourselves,” he said at MWS. “With that, additive manufacturing is one of the ways we believe we will transform ourselves as we see it transform the market…additive manufacturing is seeing a renaissance from an industrial perspective. Not because of the maturity of the technology, obviously it’s a part, but the key is the readiness of the market and the demand.”
SAP Distributed Manufacturing is composed of three modules:
- Assessment and digitization: SAP and partners will help customers to quickly analyze the suitability of parts for 3D printing, and help digitize those parts into 3D printable files
- Collaboration and approval: Customers will be connected with 3D printing partners to identify the best materials and machines, rotations and post-processing steps, and develop detailed 3D printing and quality control processes
- Distributed manufacturing production
Perez emphasized that production, not rapid prototyping, is the focus of the system. Spare parts will be, by far, the biggest application, he added, with other use cases including mass customization and temporary replacement parts.
With the launch of SAP Distributed Manufacturing also came the announcement of expanded partnerships with Jabil and HP. By integrating with SAP’s enterprise systems and partner networks, HP plans to collaborate with SAP on eliminating friction in the process of evaluating and sourcing 3D printing technology. Meanwhile, Jabil will be working with SAP as both a customer and a partner to create end-to-end industrial digital manufacturing. Jabil will combine its own manufacturing experience with SAP’s IoT solutions to manage the full life cycle of a part, creating a so-called “digital twin” to follow it from design to production and beyond.
“As 3D printing technology advances beyond prototyping, more companies are rethinking their manufacturing and supply networks to take advantage of cost-effective local production, customization and rapid delivery to meet changing customer expectations,” said Dr. Tanja Rueckert, EVP, IoT and Digital Supply Chain, SAP. “After successfully co-innovating with our customers, we are now delivering a solution for manufacturers to have a standard and scalable business process to intelligently manage design, material, pricing, procurement and logistics decisions in a collaborative network to drive more effective Industry 4.0 strategies.”
Hannover-based technical services provider TÜV Nord will work with SAP on auditing and certifying the 3D printing service providers in the network through ISO 9001 adapted for distributed manufacturing.
“For customers it’s enormously important that the manufactured components should be of consistently high quality so that they can be safely and reliably used,” said Ulf Theike, General Manager of TÜV NORD Systems. “To this end, demonstrably reliable processes and certification from trusted providers provide assurance that customers require.”
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