In order to maximize uptime, oil and gas operators among other companies, keep a significant amount of spare parts in stock in case of failures or the need for replacement. Many of these spare parts are never actually used and lock up a considerable amount of value. In addition, keeping the physical warehouses maintained also represents a cost. However, ordering parts when they are needed is not always an option due to the long lead time, and the vulnerability of some supply chains.
Additive manufacturing brings the promise of significantly reduced lead time in the provision of spare parts. Due to the minimal adjustments needed for a 3D-printing machine to be ready to print a new part, agile manufacturers can react quickly to requests for parts. The digital nature of additive manufacturing also brings the promise of distributed manufacturing. Instead of manufacturing parts at one location and shipping them across borders to where they are needed, a digital file can be sent through the cloud and manufactured close to operations.
The following companies have recognized the potential additive manufacturing and its digital nature brings to solve the challenge of efficient and cost effective manufacturing and supply of spare parts: Saudi Aramco, ConocoPhillips, Vallourec, Petrolvalves, Valland, IMI CCI, Voestalpine, JFE Steel Corporation, Hiptec, Guaranteed, Ramlab, Norsk Titanium, Immensa Technology Labs, Additive Industries, Addilan, 3YOURMIND, XDM 3D Printing and Viaccess-Orca.
Together with DNV these companies have formed a joint industry project, ‘Digital Warehouse JIP’, to create a quality assurance framework for how distributed and on-demand printing of spare parts should be carried out to ensure the ultimate goal; that the end user gets the right part, with the right properties within the right time.