Interview With Valuechain on ERP and MRP for Additive Manufacturing

Metal AM Markets
AMR Military

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3D printing is still for many companies something that is divorced from regular business processes. Somewhere in a ventilated room a few printers hum and prototypes are taken out of them every once in a while. Meanwhile, in businesses that use 3D printing for manufacturing, 3D printing software controls, logs and verifies builds is being implemented. In large enterprises, systems integrators and IT departments now have to find a way to tie 3D printing production to internal systems such as ERP and PLM. Early on, I was once sitting next to a nice man on a plane who warned me to never ever get involved with an ERP implementation. Ignoring his advice, a few years later I found out it’s like trying to cram your whole company on an Excel sheet while an external vendor sells you the most expensive thing ever without anyone understanding what it does and how to use it. Its kind of like a super complex corporate Kinder Egg toy but you never manage to assemble it and instead of tossing it you’re stuck with it forever and now only Mary knows how to get more Post Its. I’ve always seen it as either multivitamins for corporations or one of those magnet therapy wristbands for companies. Either once you’re old an wise enough you start doing it because its smart to do so or its a special kind of hokum that some believe in fervently while the majority of people ignore its existence. Somewhere between that experimental department in the office and 3D printing for manufacturing ERP, CRM and all the IT tooling in your firm will meet, however. And its going to suck. Systems integration companies will do well trying to knit together the improvised processes we have with the established ways of managing a company. Being involved in this process and being a player that could extricate firms from this mess would be a good play indeed. More and more grafting 3D printing onto a firm will be a fast growing business. This is why 3DPrint.com reached out to Jim Walters, MD of DNA ltd. to talk about Valuechain a company that purports to have a way to do just that.
What is Valuechain?
“Valuechain Technologies is a global enterprise software business which provides modular ERP solutions for advanced manufacturing sectors, and supply chain intelligence solutions. Focusing on niche processes such as additive manufacturing, Valuechain’s modular ERP integrates CRM, compliance auditing, data capture, advanced reporting, NPI and supplier portals to digital business processes to improve productivity. Valuechain’s supply chain intelligence applications include supply chain performance management, multi-tier supply chain mapping, and supplier / customer portals. Designed by Valuechain’s leadership team, with over 100 years’ experience owning and running advanced manufacturing companies, Valuechain’s solutions are developed in collaboration with our 500+ SME clients and leading manufacturing companies including Airbus, Bentley Motors and Rolls-Royce, to provide scalable solutions for companies of all sizes.”
Do you believe in the Digital Twin concept?
“The ability to visualise products and processes in a virtual environment can reduce waste significantly by accelerating technical problem solving and knowledge transfer through lower risk prototypes and simulated pilots. This compresses new product introduction and enables businesses to engage stakeholders prior to major investments in people, product, plant, processes and systems which not only mitigates risk but also reduces quality non-conformances, costs and drives on-time in full delivery.”
How would I digitize my entire manufacturing process?
“The priority must be to create capacity for change which for many companies is about streamlining data capture and removing waste caused by fragmented systems and processes. It is important to understand current performance measures and prioritise improvement areas with tangible success criteria. Through digital production control, work flow and business intelligence solutions such as Valuechain’s solutions it is then possible to do more with less and operate smarter by providing key personnel with reliable business intelligence to make informed decisions. Too many businesses focus on historic KPIs ie. what happened, rather than focusing on why things are happening and what is likely to happen, it is therefore critical to capture diagnostic analytics to capture risks and lessons learned to embed corporate learning that can underpin AI driven predictive analytics.”
What kind of Additive Manufacturing software do you have?
“We have either a complete end to end MRP solution including our AM TRACE module, which will handle the whole of life production and sub con / post processes operations from estimating through to invoice or alternatively the AM TRACE module is available as a bolt on “app” for existing and legacy MRP ERP or MES solutions. We also currently have two versions of this, AeroDNAam DNAam and new this year is our DNAam Start-Up Program to assist smaller SME companies enter the AM sector.”
For what industries is DNAam meant?
“DNAam was designed for AS9100 Aerospace manufacturing initially but since its launch at Paris Air Show in 2017 with the backing of our first clients and innovation partners AIRBUS and Zenith Tecnica in New Zealand. However not surprisingly the unique and dynamic TRACE solution for materials and consumables associated with the manufacturing process has attracted interest from the Medical Automotive and Heavy industries also such as shipbuilding along with Oil & Gas. That will only continue to grow for us.:
How does this optimize build planning?
“We have 2 levels of capacity planning / scheduling – which can show machine availability + planning control.”
Do you optimize nesting as well?
“DNAam manages the production process for AM parts, and integrates with software for design which may optimise nesting.”
Is this meant only for powder bed fusion operators?
“Initially, DNAam was developed for EBM production, however, over the last year we have expanded its capabilities to work with a variety of technologies, including FDM, Laser, SLS, WAAM, Polyjet… pretty much anything.”
Why is traceability so important?
“Highly regulated sectors such as aerospace and automotive require end-to-end traceability to ensure accountability for compliance throughout the product lifecycle. Additive manufacturing offers significant opportunities to optimise raw material usage but only if unused powders and materials can be recycled. However scaling up traceability for all recycled and blended AM material batches has prior to DNAam has been complex, manual and prone to human error.”
What unique features do you have?
Visual Stock management tool: DNAam’s visual stock location management Drag and drop Gins between locations as they progress along the production process, from Goods In to Powder Storage, to Machining to Blend area. Any time you move a Gin, a record is automatically recorded of who moved what, when, and to where; so you have complete audit traceability.
  • Configurable chemical elements for each material , to store sample results.
  • Graded material control.
  • Detail production data capture forms (iQapture)
  • Visual AM-Trace tool: Two major challenges of implementing AM parts in aviation are traceability of the powder and achieving repeatability in the process to standardise it. The trace tool allows us visualise every build in which a batch of powder has been used by clicking on it. This intuitive tool provides complete traceability which can be used to scale-up AM production, not only in aerospace but in all types of industries.
Why should I buy this?
“DNAam has been innovated in collaboration with some of the world’s leading advanced manufacturing companies such as Airbus, to embed best practice, scalable AM business processes and capture AM business intelligence. As a modular solution DNA.am can work alongside existing ERP solutions for primes and tier 1’s, or as a cost-effective turnkey ERP system from quotation through to invoicing for smaller AM businesses or even start-up AM bureaus.”

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