Today has become a fast-paced marketplace of getting products when you want them, how you want them, and as quickly as you can get them. Think Amazon and DoorDash — the faster the better. The same can now be said for manufacturing.
Technological advancements now make this accelerated world of manufacturing and the complexity of supply chain logistics easier for both the customer and the manufacturer to rapidly traverse and improve upon their processes.
One such advancement to this process is on-demand manufacturing, also referred to as “build-on-demand,” “manufacturing on demand (MOD),” or “cloud manufacturing.”
It is a manufacturing process where goods are produced on an as-needed basis, allowing for scalability and adjustable assemblies depending on the current needs of the customer and market conditions.
Here we will take a closer look at how manufacturing on-demand has the potential to positively impact the industry by shortening lead times and reducing costs. We’ll also explain exactly what it is, how it works, and both the advantages and disadvantages of such a platform.
What Is On-Demand Manufacturing?
On-demand manufacturing is having parts and components manufactured to your custom specifications when you need them, in the quantities you need, with minimal lead time.
In comparison, traditional manufacturing often requires standardization and large quantities of products to be made far in advance of production and then stored in facilities until they’re ready for shipping.
On-demand manufacturing allows for greater flexibility and the ability to produce one-off orders. It eliminates the need to hold costly inventory and allows for a more agile, flexible, and responsive production process.
A key aspect of the platform is instant price and lead time on custom parts. It can take traditional manufacturers several days to determine manufacturability and cost of a custom component, review production, schedule to determine lead time, and approve pricing. Not to mention the time lost on follow-up via email or by phone conversations.
Once the order is placed, on-demand manufacturer platforms can begin production, normally within the same day. They also provide the user access to their accounts for quote review and order status updates through the power of cloud computing, where all information and communication are stored and easily accessible anywhere, anytime.
How Does On-Demand Manufacturing Work?
On-demand manufacturing is similar to almost any type of on-demand service. Users log in to a web or mobile app (generally no software is needed) and upload their design specifications or CAD (computer-aided design) models.
A system then uses artificial intelligence (AI) and engineering software to calculate manufacturing processes, lead time and pricing within minutes. Components can then be ordered directly from the user’s device.
Cloud technology is used to provide users with complete access to projects. This includes changing details, such as delivery speed and ship-to location, and sharing project information with co-workers.
With some platforms, 3D models are uploaded and additional specifications can be manually entered. All of this is done in a transparent way via cloud computing.
Traditional vs. On-Demand Manufacturing: Advantages and Disadvantages
One of the ever-present challenges in manufacturing is the ability to accurately forecast and respond to buyer demand and changes in the economy.
While the technology available today has greatly improved manufacturers’ abilities to anticipate demand and adjust their operations accordingly, there are still times in which companies find themselves with a shortage or an excess of products, due to changing market and economic conditions.
Along with forecasting, there’s also the increasing pressure for companies to keep reducing their production timetables. Speed-to-market is a major advantage of on-demand manufacturing. Many industries are seeing development time cut by up to one-third and expect engineers and designers to increase productivity rates.
On-demand manufacturing can help reduce the production of 2D drawings, saving up to 90% of traditional design time.
Below is an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of on-demand manufacturing.
Speed to Market Advantages of On-Demand Manufacturing
- More flexible to consumer preferences and economic trends
- Instant quoting with 24/7 access to order process data within the cloud
- Rapid order placement
- Reduced cost spent on traditional inventory
- Increased space in existing facilities by not carrying inventory
- Increased productivity and speed-to-market by reducing redundant drawings
Disadvantages to On-Demand Manufacturing
- The risk of running out of stock of items usually kept on shelves
- Increased awareness of planning and forecasting
- Potentially higher costs per unit
|Factors||Traditional Manufacturing||On Demand Manufacturing|
|Quotes||Several days to acquire a quote||A few minutes for the quote to generate|
|Design Plans||Often requires a 2D drawing||Automatic data generation from the 3D file uploaded|
|Cost||Can be lower cost per unit when buying in larger quantities||Can be higher cost per unit|
|Lead Times||Slower process in getting products||Quicker lead times|
|Flexibility||Need to warehouse more bulk orders||Higher degree of agility to meet customer demand|
|User Access||Customer service / quote rep contact via phone or email||24/7 access via the cloud|
Using MISUMI’s meviy Platform for Your On-Demand Manufacturing Needs
MISUMI’s new on-demand manufacturing platform, meviy, offers all the features that make it a premium on-demand solution for procurement.
Here is a high-level overview of how it works:
- Upload a 3D model and you can receive a quote with a price and delivery time in just a few clicks.
- Instead of several days, it only takes a few minutes for the quote to generate, so you can order components right away.
- Once the order is placed, the product goes directly into manufacturing, is reviewed one final time and produced.
To learn more about meviy, click here.
On-demand manufacturing’s footprint is an expanding technological revolution. It offers a lot of advantages over traditional manufacturing, and as it becomes more accessible, it will become an industry best practice.
With economic and consumer demand trends in constant flux, it only makes sense that the speed and flexibility provided by on-demand manufacturing platforms will evolve and grow.