Digital Breakthrough: How 3D Printing Will Blow Your Mind

Maria Estrada

3D printing is shaking up how people engage in daily tasks at work, at school, and even at home. Recognizing the powerful potential of this innovative technology, many businesses are also beginning to leverage it for commercial use.

The fashion industry, for example, is using 3D printing to launch clothing collections based on the latest trends. The automotive industry is also tapping the technology to solve technical challenges. And healthcare organizations are using it to make lifesaving breakthroughs.

As 3D printing technology matures, it will be used in countless ways yet to be imagined. Here are some examples of how 3D printing is affecting manufacturing today.

1. Product design and development

Because 3D printing can minimize design constraints, developers can create products that are built to last without needing to first work through the problems of a physical prototype. Companies will be able to produce products quickly and easily.

Steve Swaddle, technology manager at Black & Decker, says, “It is the ability to design something in the morning and have a physical representation of the concept in your hand in the afternoon that is a priceless step forward in product design.”

2. Customization for a segment of one

Businesses can use 3D printing to easily customize products, such as a new concept of business cards, according to individual customer preferences. With product design limited only by the human imagination, many industries will be poised to undergo dramatic transformation.

However, such a shift also brings cost implications. Products will likely cost more, as 3D printers are expensive—many are priced between $10,000 and $20,0000, with some specialized models up to $50,000 or more. Over time, these prices will naturally decrease, but for now, consumers will pay a price for customization.

Another concern is copyright issues. Users of 3D printers can easily copy ideas based on copyright-protected product designs, and manufacturers and designers may call the ethical use of 3D printing into question as property right and infringements occur.

Major digital breakthroughs and innovations rarely go unnoticed, and 3D printing is just one example. However, we must use them to solve problems rather than create new ones.

For more on the potential of 3D printing, see Why 3D Printed Food Just Transformed Your Supply Chain.

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Maria Estrada

About Maria Estrada

Maria Estrada is the business associate of PrintMeister, an online company that offers high-quality printing services like brochures and print business card. She is a tech savvy and loves to share her knowledge through blog writing. Maria lives in Australia with her family and two lovely cats.

Can This Builder Get The Young Adults Out Of Your Basement?

Darren Hunter

There’s an old saying that says, “How are you going to keep them down on the farm?” However, these days an updated version might be, “How are you going to get them into their own place?”

What’s become almost a cliché—young adults moving back in with their parents due to lack of affordable housing—remains a big problem for young adults as well as their parents. Highlighting the crisis is a 2017 report “The Large Unmet Demand for Housing” from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. The conclusion of the report is that there is a significant shortage of housing and affordable new options remain far below demand.

The report cited the limited supply of housing available for rent or sale as the biggest reason for the U.S. housing crisis. Other factors included rising rent and new home prices and the fact that “…construction of new apartments is centered disproportionately on luxury units too expensive for most young adults.”

That’s bad news for young people who can’t afford to move out. Although there may be some advantages to having amenities that only mom can provide, many would like to trade their makeshift basement apartments for their own digs.

However, despite the clear need for housing, the report states, “Construction has not responded vigorously to increasing demand thus far.”

What’s the holdup? Major challenges facing builders include a shortage of construction workers, difficulty financing land purchases, and the technical logistics of new construction.

Enter Katerra

As bleak as the situation may sound, young people may want to hold off on convincing their parents to install a basement pool table. A new construction company called Katerra recognizes that the current housing crisis also presents opportunity, and it has set out to revolutionize the construction industry.

At Sapphire Now 2017, Ravi Naik, senior vice president for Technology at Katerra, explained how Katerra’s unique approach, coupled with the latest in available technology, is transforming the way buildings and spaces come to life.

The company has factories around the globe, where they produce their own materials. They also manage the global logistics for construction companies, own their supply chain, and manage design through construction. The company is applying systems approaches to remove unnecessary time and costs from building development, design, and construction.

Technology at work

Naik believes his company’s unique approach is already yielding results. “Efficiency no longer needs to come at the expense of quality or sustainability. Our goal is to build buildings very rapidly at a significantly reduced cost, which would in turn bring great value to the citizens of this country and then globally,” he says.

This should be good news for tech-savvy young people who would appreciate both the transformative way new spaces are coming to life as well as the technology that is driving the progress.

Naik said that the company needed to have the right technology in place before it could get more people into new housing. “We went live with a next-generation ERP suite, and for the first time we have a truly integrated end-to-end business process in place—right from procurement to logistics to finances and revenue recognition.”

Naik added that the upgrade was integrated and went live in a very short time with minimal disruption. Katerra can now track inventory and knows when deliveries are expected. Additionally, their business intelligence platform now ties to the IoT network, allowing for tracking labor and managing productivity.

This level of technology has already made an impact. Naik described how Katerra finished the construction of an entire first floor of a multi-unit residential building in just six hours. “We were able to do that because now we have technology, tools, and software actually designing the building, right to the last nail.”

With Katerra seemingly cracking the code on new affordable housing construction, parents with young people residing in their basement can take heart, knowing a solution could soon be at hand.

This story originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.

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Darren Hunter

About Darren Hunter

Darren Hunter works in the Customer Newsroom at SAP. His areas of expertise include storytelling, speaking engagements, covering events, interviewing SAP customers, partners and stakeholders and creating engaging content for worldwide distribution and enjoyment.

How to Take Advantage Of 3D Printing Service Parts In Aerospace

Thomas Pohl

The time of 3D printing being a hobbyist’s plaything is in the past. Not only has additive manufacturing come into its own, but it is rapidly gaining ground as a more sustainable technology than centralized systems that require shipping networks to get goods to market. In the aerospace industry, we’re seeing more use of 3D printing than in the past; for example, GE has produced a 3D-printed 1,300 HP advanced turboprop engine. But one area where 3D printing technology is expected to have the largest impact on the aerospace industry is in parts printing.

The aerospace industry was one of the first adopters of 3D printing technology, beginning in 1988, only four short years from the first patent registration for the technology. At the time, it was only used for modeling and prototypes. A little over a decade later, industry leaders started to explore the full potential of the technology.

Today, it’s clear there are a number of areas where 3D printing of service parts can benefit the aerospace industry.

Increased asset uptime

Because airline fleets are always on the go, it can be difficult to anticipate in what locations and at what times specific parts may be needed. Internet of Things (IoT) technology improves inventory tracking, but that isn’t the solution when you don’t have the right part where it’s needed. Aircraft-on-ground delays can cause serious problems in a number of areas, and 3D-printed parts help avoid this issue and improve overall fleet uptime. Personnel in the hanger can simply print a new part instead of maintaining an exhaustive inventory or hoping the part comes in quickly.

Reduced cost

Beyond the problems of grounded assets, 3D-printed parts also reduce costs. When an asset is grounded, it can quickly become an expensive problem. A typical “B check” maintenance issue that grounds a plane has an average cost of $60,000. The crew must be moved to other aircraft or lodged locally; replacement parts need to be shipped in (if they’re not on location); fleet coordination is impacted; flight schedules are thrown off; and service-level agreement (SLA) compliance becomes an issue. And that’s before you deal with the resulting customer service issues.

Lighter components

In aeronautics, weight is money, and 3D-printed parts could lighten the components used in aircraft. Reducing the weight of your components means using less fuel to get off the ground. A recent contest by GE challenged designers to create an engine bracket designed for production with a 3D printer. The winning entry produced an 83.4% reduction in weight, from 2 kg to a svelte 327 grams. That may not seem like much on a 400-ton aircraft, but it’s just that much less weight to get in the air.

More durability

It’s much easier to design 3D-printed components for strength and durability versus manufacturing ease. “We get five times the durability. We have a lighter-weight fuel nozzle. And we frankly have a fuel nozzle that operates in an environment more effectively and more efficiently than previous fuel nozzles,” Greg Morris, head of GE Aviation’s additive printing division, said in an interview. The ability to design and print parts remotely makes updates to fleet assets much easier to implement.

Improved customer satisfaction

In aeronautics, customer satisfaction has a huge impact on a company’s bottom line. It’s estimated that in 2016, flight delays cost airlines $25 billion in actual expenses, and that figure does not include damage to an airline’s reputation. If an airline becomes known for flight delays and maintenance issues, it’s less likely to be used by consumers. Having 3D printing capabilities for a number of parts helps reduce flight delays and keeps cancellations to a minimum. It also helps improve overall fleet uptime and reputation for excellence.

By adding 3D printing capability, aeronautics companies can enjoy lean operations with better flexibility and resiliency. It provides a range of benefits, including avoiding aircraft-on-ground problems. By placing a 3D printer at the hanger or a nearby distribution warehouse, response time is drastically improved, costs are reduced, and excess inventory is eliminated.

Digitization and disruption require businesses to be lean and agile. This is true of all industries, including aeronautics. While 3D printing was initially used for out-of-production or slow-moving inventory parts, it’s progressing into more complex parts as the technology has improved.

As part of an overall digitization plan, 3D printing allows companies to respond faster to industry changes. Imagine a scenario where sensors in your assets sense a problem in a particular part of your aircraft. Those sensors automatically contact the arrival airport, which 3D-prints the part while the plane is still in the air. Wait time decreases and the plane gets back in the air faster. The future of aeronautics is now. Where does your business stand?

Read this whitepaper to understand how a digital world in aerospace and defense industry can help you to reinvent products, services, and core business processes.

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Thomas Pohl

About Thomas Pohl

Thomas Pohl is a Senior Director Marketing at SAP. He helps global high tech and aerospace companies to simplify their business by taking innovative software solutions to market.

The Future Will Be Co-Created

Dan Wellers and Timo Elliott

 

Just 3% of companies have completed enterprise digital transformation projects.
92% of those companies have significantly improved or transformed customer engagement.
81% of business executives say platforms will reshape industries into interconnected ecosystems.
More than half of large enterprises (80% of the Global 500) will join industry platforms by 2018.

Link to Sources


Redefining Customer Experience

Many business leaders think of the customer journey or experience as the interaction an individual or business has with their firm.

But the business value of the future will exist in the much broader, end-to-end experiences of a customer—the experience of travel, for example, or healthcare management or mobility. Individual companies alone, even with their existing supplier networks, lack the capacity to transform these comprehensive experiences.


A Network Effect

Rather than go it alone, companies will develop deep collaborative relationships across industries—even with their customers—to create powerful ecosystems that multiply the breadth and depth of the products, services, and experiences they can deliver. Digital native companies like Baidu and Uber have embraced ecosystem thinking from their early days. But forward-looking legacy companies are beginning to take the approach.

Solutions could include:

  • Packaging provider Weig has integrated partners into production with customers co-inventing custom materials.
  • China’s Ping An insurance company is aggressively expanding beyond its sector with a digital platform to help customers manage their healthcare experience.
  • British roadside assistance provider RAC is delivering a predictive breakdown service for drivers by acquiring and partnering with high-tech companies.

What Color Is Your Ecosystem?

Abandoning long-held notions of business value creation in favor of an ecosystem approach requires new tactics and strategies. Companies can:

1.  Dispassionately map the end-to-end customer experience, including those pieces outside company control.

2.  Employ future planning tactics, such as scenario planning, to examine how that experience might evolve.

3.  Identify organizations in that experience ecosystem with whom you might co-innovate.

4.  Embrace technologies that foster secure collaboration and joint innovation around delivery of experiences, such as cloud computing, APIs, and micro-services.

5.  Hire, train for, and reward creativity, innovation, and customer-centricity.


Evolve or Be Commoditized

Some companies will remain in their traditional industry boxes, churning out products and services in isolation. But they will be commodity players reaping commensurate returns. Companies that want to remain competitive will seek out their new ecosystem or get left out in the cold.


Download the executive brief The Future Will be Co-Created.


Read the full article The Future Belongs to Industry-Busting Ecosystems.

Turn insight into action, make better decisions, and transform your business.  Learn how.

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Dan Wellers

About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is founder and leader of Digital Futures at SAP, a strategic insights and thought leadership discipline that explores how digital technologies drive exponential change in business and society.

About Timo Elliott

Timo Elliott is an Innovation Evangelist for SAP and a passionate advocate of innovation, digital business, analytics, and artificial intelligence. He was the eighth employee of BusinessObjects and for the last 25 years he has worked closely with SAP customers around the world on new technology directions and their impact on real-world organizations. His articles have appeared in articles such as Harvard Business Review, Forbes, ZDNet, The Guardian, and Digitalist Magazine. He has worked in the UK, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Silicon Valley, and currently lives in Paris, France. He has a degree in Econometrics and a patent in mobile analytics. 

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Blockchain: Much Ado About Nothing? How Very Wrong!

Juergen Roehricht

Let me start with a quote from McKinsey, that in my view hits the nail right on the head:

“No matter what the context, there’s a strong possibility that blockchain will affect your business. The very big question is when.”

Now, in the industries that I cover in my role as general manager and innovation lead for travel and transportation/cargo, engineering, construction and operations, professional services, and media, I engage with many different digital leaders on a regular basis. We are having visionary conversations about the impact of digital technologies and digital transformation on business models and business processes and the way companies address them. Many topics are at different stages of the hype cycle, but the one that definitely stands out is blockchain as a new enabling technology in the enterprise space.

Just a few weeks ago, a customer said to me: “My board is all about blockchain, but I don’t get what the excitement is about – isn’t this just about Bitcoin and a cryptocurrency?”

I can totally understand his confusion. I’ve been talking to many blockchain experts who know that it will have a big impact on many industries and the related business communities. But even they are uncertain about the where, how, and when, and about the strategy on how to deal with it. The reason is that we often look at it from a technology point of view. This is a common mistake, as the starting point should be the business problem and the business issue or process that you want to solve or create.

In my many interactions with Torsten Zube, vice president and blockchain lead at the SAP Innovation Center Network (ICN) in Potsdam, Germany, he has made it very clear that it’s mandatory to “start by identifying the real business problem and then … figure out how blockchain can add value.” This is the right approach.

What we really need to do is provide guidance for our customers to enable them to bring this into the context of their business in order to understand and define valuable use cases for blockchain. We need to use design thinking or other creative strategies to identify the relevant fields for a particular company. We must work with our customers and review their processes and business models to determine which key blockchain aspects, such as provenance and trust, are crucial elements in their industry. This way, we can identify use cases in which blockchain will benefit their business and make their company more successful.

My highly regarded colleague Ulrich Scholl, who is responsible for externalizing the latest industry innovations, especially blockchain, in our SAP Industries organization, recently said: “These kinds of use cases are often not evident, as blockchain capabilities sometimes provide minor but crucial elements when used in combination with other enabling technologies such as IoT and machine learning.” In one recent and very interesting customer case from the autonomous province of South Tyrol, Italy, blockchain was one of various cloud platform services required to make this scenario happen.

How to identify “blockchainable” processes and business topics (value drivers)

To understand the true value and impact of blockchain, we need to keep in mind that a verified transaction can involve any kind of digital asset such as cryptocurrency, contracts, and records (for instance, assets can be tangible equipment or digital media). While blockchain can be used for many different scenarios, some don’t need blockchain technology because they could be handled by a simple ledger, managed and owned by the company, or have such a large volume of data that a distributed ledger cannot support it. Blockchain would not the right solution for these scenarios.

Here are some common factors that can help identify potential blockchain use cases:

  • Multiparty collaboration: Are many different parties, and not just one, involved in the process or scenario, but one party dominates everything? For example, a company with many parties in the ecosystem that are all connected to it but not in a network or more decentralized structure.
  • Process optimization: Will blockchain massively improve a process that today is performed manually, involves multiple parties, needs to be digitized, and is very cumbersome to manage or be part of?
  • Transparency and auditability: Is it important to offer each party transparency (e.g., on the origin, delivery, geolocation, and hand-overs) and auditable steps? (e.g., How can I be sure that the wine in my bottle really is from Bordeaux?)
  • Risk and fraud minimization: Does it help (or is there a need) to minimize risk and fraud for each party, or at least for most of them in the chain? (e.g., A company might want to know if its goods have suffered any shocks in transit or whether the predefined route was not followed.)

Connecting blockchain with the Internet of Things

This is where blockchain’s value can be increased and automated. Just think about a blockchain that is not just maintained or simply added by a human, but automatically acquires different signals from sensors, such as geolocation, temperature, shock, usage hours, alerts, etc. One that knows when a payment or any kind of money transfer has been made, a delivery has been received or arrived at its destination, or a digital asset has been downloaded from the Internet. The relevant automated actions or signals are then recorded in the distributed ledger/blockchain.

Of course, given the massive amount of data that is created by those sensors, automated signals, and data streams, it is imperative that only the very few pieces of data coming from a signal that are relevant for a specific business process or transaction be stored in a blockchain. By recording non-relevant data in a blockchain, we would soon hit data size and performance issues.

Ideas to ignite thinking in specific industries

  • The digital, “blockchained” physical asset (asset lifecycle management): No matter whether you build, use, or maintain an asset, such as a machine, a piece of equipment, a turbine, or a whole aircraft, a blockchain transaction (genesis block) can be created when the asset is created. The blockchain will contain all the contracts and information for the asset as a whole and its parts. In this scenario, an entry is made in the blockchain every time an asset is: sold; maintained by the producer or owner’s maintenance team; audited by a third-party auditor; has malfunctioning parts; sends or receives information from sensors; meets specific thresholds; has spare parts built in; requires a change to the purpose or the capability of the assets due to age or usage duration; receives (or doesn’t receive) payments; etc.
  • The delivery chain, bill of lading: In today’s world, shipping freight from A to B involves lots of manual steps. For example, a carrier receives a booking from a shipper or forwarder, confirms it, and, before the document cut-off time, receives the shipping instructions describing the content and how the master bill of lading should be created. The carrier creates the original bill of lading and hands it over to the ordering party (the current owner of the cargo). Today, that original paper-based bill of lading is required for the freight (the container) to be picked up at the destination (the port of discharge). Imagine if we could do this as a blockchain transaction and by forwarding a PDF by email. There would be one transaction at the beginning, when the shipping carrier creates the bill of lading. Then there would be look-ups, e.g., by the import and release processing clerk of the shipper at the port of discharge and the new owner of the cargo at the destination. Then another transaction could document that the container had been handed over.

The future

I personally believe in the massive transformative power of blockchain, even though we are just at the very beginning. This transformation will be achieved by looking at larger networks with many participants that all have a nearly equal part in a process. Today, many blockchain ideas still have a more centralistic approach, in which one company has a more prominent role than the (many) others and often is “managing” this blockchain/distributed ledger-supported process/approach.

But think about the delivery scenario today, where goods are shipped from one door or company to another door or company, across many parties in the delivery chain: from the shipper/producer via the third-party logistics service provider and/or freight forwarder; to the companies doing the actual transport, like vessels, trucks, aircraft, trains, cars, ferries, and so on; to the final destination/receiver. And all of this happens across many countries, many borders, many handovers, customs, etc., and involves a lot of paperwork, across all constituents.

“Blockchaining” this will be truly transformational. But it will need all constituents in the process or network to participate, even if they have different interests, and to agree on basic principles and an approach.

As Torsten Zube put it, I am not a “blockchain extremist” nor a denier that believes this is just a hype, but a realist open to embracing a new technology in order to change our processes for our collective benefit.

Turn insight into action, make better decisions, and transform your business. Learn how.

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Juergen Roehricht

About Juergen Roehricht

Juergen Roehricht is General Manager of Services Industries and Innovation Lead of the Middle and Eastern Europe region for SAP. The industries he covers include travel and transportation; professional services; media; and engineering, construction and operations. Besides managing the business in those segments, Juergen is focused on supporting innovation and digital transformation strategies of SAP customers. With more than 20 years of experience in IT, he stays up to date on the leading edge of innovation, pioneering and bringing new technologies to market and providing thought leadership. He has published several articles and books, including Collaborative Business and The Multi-Channel Company.