Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Putting Customer in Charge of Production
The technology that realizes “Putting Customer in Charge of Production” that overtakes “Putting Customer in Charge of Design” starts to prevail. The technology is a 3-dimension (3D) printer. Today’s story is about the influence of a 3D printer on a supply chain.
A year ago when I began to live in the US, I was so astonished by Amazon. I could hardly believe my eyes when not “1 day delivery” but “1 day shipping” appeared on my PC screen. I wondered if this means more than 2 days to deliver though I used Amazon Prime. In Tokyo, when you order goods at Amazon in the morning by using Amazon Prime, the goods are not shipped but delivered by evening. Amazon Japan well knows that Japanese are not interested in when Amazon ships goods but interested in when goods are delivered.
According to the article of Fung, Amazon US tries faster shipping because of customer’s needs and competitors such as eBay. As the result, the share of shipping in the total sales was about 5 % in 2011 despite just 3.2 % in 2009. However, Fung says that 1 day shipping is not a perfect solution of this issue because Amazon stores enough inventories in a fulfillment center to ship within 24 hours.
As a perfect solution, the article introduces a 3D printer. Throughout the US, an online store deploys 3D printers. When a customer orders goods, a store makes a product with the nearest 3D printer to the customer and the store ships it. By this way, an online store does not need excess inventories and can reduce delivery time. In other words, when a customer pushes the place order button, a 3D printer starts to make a product. This is indeed “Putting Customer in Charge of Production”.
However, does this dream come true? Fung points out that a 3D printer easily makes a product from a single material, but it has large difficulties to make a product from more than two materials because the conditions have to be keep for each special material during printing.
If a 3D printer technology is used actually, Amazon will seem to shorten delivery time. It does not affect only delivery time. A 3D printer enables to make in the US a product like that nowadays is made small lots in China by injection molding. This means shift of supply chain, in part, from China to the US. However, does the US society feel happy to make simple goods in the US by a 3D printer though China makes complex iPhone?
Fung, B (2013, August). What happens when you mash up 3D printing and Amazon’s same-day delivery? Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2013/08/29/what-happens-when-you-mash-up-3d-printing-and-amazons-same-day-delivery/
Posted by Rempei Iwata at 4:43 PM