In order for major 3D printing companies to keep pace with global reshoring initiatives, it’s not only necessary for them to secure manufacturing operations in their headquarter nations, but in major global regions. For this reason, we’re seeing Siemens anchor itself into U.S. supply chain resilience initiatives. Stratasys (Nasdaq: SSYS) is doing its part by establishing a logistics hub in the U.K. Located in Abingdon, Oxfordshire and working with its UK-based business units, the new warehousing site allows the company to ensure faster delivery of its 3D printers, materials, and services.
In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic was a test of our society’s supply chains, demonstrating exactly where the weak points were and how they would need to be improved, particularly as future macroeconomic events unfold. This could be anything from the military conflict in Ukraine and global warming-induced shipping issues to the depletion of natural resources. For the U.K., the war with Russia has highlighted the need to secure other sources of energy, which is just the most essential natural resource the islands need to stay afloat economically.
It’s no surprise then that, like many nations, the U.K. has established a roadmap for production, which it has dubbed its High Value Manufacturing (HVM) strategy. Supporting that strategy are seven HVM catapult centers, not dissimilar to the Manufacturing USA network in the U.S. Naturally, additive manufacturing (AM) plays a key part in this roadmap. According to the country’s leading trade association dedicated to 3D printing, AMUK, industrial investment into the AM sector will amount to £600m over the next five years, with the possibility of £400m more from the government.
With over 3,000 systems installed in the U.K., Stratasys hopes to reinforce its operations there. After all, two of its recent acquisitions are based in the region, including RPS and Xaar 3D Ltd., the backbone of its high-throughput selective absorption fusion technologies. Perhaps understated by Stratasys is the fact that the new warehouse allows for customs-free trading, essential for a nation that has become more globally isolated as a result of Brexit.
The warehouse will feature automation technologies to reduce lead times for local customers, while also offering operational resilience against current and future macroeconomic events that may impact the labor supply. The site includes solar panels and rainwater harvesting technologies that not only improve its environmental impact but mean greater resilience against climate shocks.
Yann Rageul, VP of Commercial Enablement at Stratasys, said of the new facility, “The UK has become a highly strategic territory for us, so it’s vital that we are closer to the market in terms of presence while also having the increased versatility to improve our overall service offering. Cutting down lead times is one of our main goals and having this state-of-the-art warehousing facility on UK soil will facilitate that.”
Along with its annual sustainability report, this initiative demonstrates Stratasys’s forward thinking when it comes to the big picture. Don’t be surprised if we see more actions like this taken by the company and its competitors. Also don’t be surprised if nations globally adopt similar strategies for supply chain resilience. The U.K. is alongside the U.S., China, Canada, Australia, and others in terms of establishing local digital manufacturing operations as means of insurance against supply chain disruptions.
Images courtesy of Stratasys
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