Benefits of Distributed Manufacturing

We know that there are many factors that go into the manufacturing process for optimal planning: part dimensions, tolerances, surface treatments, raw material and available resources (machine, clamps and tools). This does not make it easy to find a supplier that is optimally equipped with the right expertise and machinery for your parts. The last few months there has been a lot of talk about digitising the manufacturing world, the ‘Industry 4.0’, to produce faster and better. One part that is often overshadowed by all robots and 3D printers, is ‘Distributed Manufacturing’. Distributed Manufacturing is a large network management that is easy and quick to reach when needed or most optimal.

Here we will list a number of major advantages that distributed manufacturing can mean for an engineer.

  • A large network of expertise and capabilities that you can tap into whenever possible, removes constraints such as location, time it takes to outsource a project and/or the cost of perhaps producing in-house. No one is better equipped to work on your project.
  • Larger projects often need multiple branches of expertise or different techniques, using a group of smaller suppliers who have often already set up their own environment for your issue, rather than developing their own production line, which often requires a lot of time and investment, so it costs a lot of money.
  • From a logistical point of view, it may be more advantageous to have a project brought closer to a factory that is going to test or after-treat it or to have it brought closer to the location where it is sold. This will support multiple local economies, which is a sensible choice in both financial and environmental terms.

Where I see that the concept of distributed manufacturing has value, it is of course a new way of organising your supply chain. Having the confidence of a small group of suppliers is often preferred for now, but I think that when more and more of the manufacturing world starts digitising, and there are more and more advantages distributed manufacturing will become a more stable, cheaper and faster solution for many production issues.