Successful Research on Lean Inventories Expanded to Include 3D Printing
Joint research is now being conducted to include new manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing. The innovations are the result of a partnership that began three years ago.
“As a result of our initial partnership we now have a new application at hand that allows us to forecast the demand of a company’s products and plan its inventory accordingly,” said Nicole Ayiomamitou, lead researcher on the knowledge transfer project which was supported by the UK government. “To achieve this, we have taken real inventory data from Panalpina and developed a unique product life cycle algorithm based on leading-edge mathematical thinking.”
Panalpina became the first global logistics company to develop its own application that helps customers manage, forecast and reduce inventory levels in their supply chains.
“We started off by mapping the inventories of our customers across product life-cycles,” said Mike Wilson, global head of logistics at Panalpina. “The more data we analyzed, the more refined we could make our inventory forecasting model. We’ve now come to a point where we can accurately predict the points of inflection of inventories for all kinds of products across different industries. Based on that, we can estimate the maximum and minimum inventory holding for our customers.”
The benefit of this approach for Panalpina is that it can then predict how much space is needed at its facilities, where to position the facilities, and what services to offer. The benefit for the customers is that they have a partner who will work with them to keep their products moving and minimize working capital requirements in their supply chains.
“We said from the beginning that we were not trying to re-invent the wheel,” said Professor Aris Syntetos of the Cardiff Business School. “The new application works at a product level, selecting and applying the best mathematical forecasting method at the click of a button. The application has been tested on various types of products, and the results are remarkable.”
Panalpina and Cardiff have launched two further two-year projects. The follow-up projects launched in January 2016 will focus on new manufacturing technologies. The aim is to help Panalpina’s customers identify the right products that could be switched from traditional to new, additive manufacturing techniques such as 3D printing.
“We have a supply chain specialist and an engineer working together with leading experts at Cardiff Business School,” says Wilson. “As with the first round of research, the findings of this exciting new project will find their way into our wider offering of Logistics Manufacturing Services which has already successfully transformed the manufacturing and logistics strategy of important Panalpina high-tech customers.”
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