AN ADVANCED MANUFACTURING SUPPORTED SUPPLY CHAIN – EDUCATIONAL CASE STUDIES
Editor: Buck, Lyndon; Grierson, Hilary; Bohemia, Erik
Author: Sewell, Philip; Batley, Abigail; Roberts, William
Institution: Bournemouth University, UK; Innovations Project Team (2013-2020), Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) UK
Section: Responsible innovation in design and engineering education
DOI number: 10.35199/EPDE.2023.14
The goal of traditional supply chain spare parts management is to maintain a minimum level of spare parts inventory whilst still being able to fulfil demand and maintain customer satisfaction. Much research has been undertaken to optimise product flow and optimise stock levels generally requiring transporting spare parts to the point of use from a centralised storage location. While moving from a decentralised to a centralised network can lower costs and improve service performance it will have a negative impact on the environment due the increase in transportation needs. It has been recognised that Additive Manufacturing (AM) technologies have the potential to positively disrupt the supply chain by reducing the requirement to hold and transport stock, produce cost and lead time savings, while also guarding against supply chain disruption. This paper reports on the outcomes of a joint research project conducted between Bournemouth University (BU) and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) to identify specific areas where additive manufacturing could be implemented into the organisation to have a positive impact on the supply chain and promote responsible innovation in their component design. The RNLI is a charity which operates using donations from members of the public and believe it imperative to produce efficiency across all areas of the organisation, and to spend money in the most effective ways. The project has analysed a number of engineering components alongside the RNLI’s supply chain data which has led to the development of two educational case studies which promote the benefits AM could offer the RNLI and the wider industry. The two specific components investigated were the ‘Mast Latch Handle’ and the ‘Sea Water Inlet Strainer’. The ‘Mast Latch Handle’ is an aluminium part manufactured traditionally from a stock piece of material. The ‘Sea Water Inlet Strainer’ is a component used on a variety of different lifeboat class’s, to stop debris from entering the engine cooling system. It is currently fabricated from a wrapped stainless steel sheet and two stainless steel flanges either end. Both case studies detail the redesign of the parts for AM providing equivalent or better performance, reduced weight, reduced cost and significantly shorter lead times. The project successfully demonstrated the advantages that additive manufacturing could have on the RNLI and their values. With the use of additive manufacturing, the RNLI now understand that they could achieve consolidated part reductions, reduced lead times, less material waste, weight reductions and reduced transportation. Using AM would lead to business and environmental advantages for the organisation. The project has resulted in AM being implemented as a focus into the RNLI engineering team time plan. Additive manufacturing is now at the forefront when new and existing engineering designs are conceived, and a manufacturing process is selected. Further work is required such as upskilling RNLI engineering teams on designing for AM, and on the execution of the AM process, followed by the implementation of an AM facility on site in RNLI Poole Headquarters.