Establishing a Business Case for Additive Manufacturing Execution System In Rapid Prototyping

14 January 2021
additive manufacturing execution system for rapid prototyping workflow

With markets changing faster than ever, organisations are adopting technologies that help them keep up with the ever-changing market landscape and deliver high-quality products faster. Rapid prototyping has, since its inception, been one of the main technologies helping to test new ideas in the fastest way possible.

With years of rapid prototyping experience, your goal, as a manager of the RP department, is to better service the product development teams. The faster they can get a prototype to test and validate new product designs, the faster your organisation can go from design to production.

Saving time at the product development stage can go a long way to help your organisation gain a competitive advantage by bringing new products to the market quickly and ahead of their competitors.

While the goals are clear, achieving them has not been easy for your RP department.

Rapid prototyping workflow challenges

Many RP departments face similar challenges and bottlenecks when it comes to managing their prototyping workflows.

For the vast majority of RP departments, the request stage is a manual and frustratingly disorganised process.

Engineers and designers send their design files as attachments via email, along with notes on their requirements.

As the number of requests grows to hundreds, dealing with a large volume of projects quickly becomes a logistical nightmare for the project managers responsible for verifying all requests. 

What’s even more challenging is when the important information about the request is missing or the incorrect file type is sent. 

In this scenario, the project manager has to spend a great deal of time emailing back to get the right specifications and wait for the requester to confirm or clarify their requirements.

Without a standardised way to receive requests, machine operators and production managers are swamped by a deluge of requests that need to be sorted through and prioritised individually before they can be scheduled for production.

From the point of view of designers and engineers, distractive back and forth emails and hours of waiting to receive order status updates can be even more frustrating.  

These challenges result in a highly manual, inefficient workflow, which blocks you from delivering the best rapid prototyping service and limits the adoption of AM technology in your organisation. 

Solving your rapid prototyping challenges with Additive MES solution

Additive MES software has been developed to solve workflow inefficiencies. Below we take a look at the key MES solutions and their benefits for your RP department. 

1. Simplifying request management  

AMFG order history 3D printing instant quote software
An ordering portal enables users to place requests, keep track of their order statuses and reorder parts with a click of a button. [Image credit: AMFG]

Advanced additive MES software helps you reduce the time spent on manual submission tasks, by offering a centralised request submission portal.   

For your RP team, the ordering portal, powered by an instant pricing engine, automates the process of analysing and pricing AM requests. 

It can also be preconfigured to accept only certain CAD file formats, technologies and materials, and other parameters deemed important by the RP department. 

Ultimately, this means that any file uploaded by the user must meet the requirements set up by the RP department before any request is submitted. 

This not only contributes to the standardised submission process but also saves time, cutting down on the back and forth email conversations.  

The MES software also provides users with a personalised dashboard, where they can log in and review the status of their parts themselves. 

From the perspective of designers and engineers using RP services, the ordering portal helps to create a better user experience, build up confidence in the technology.   

Related: Why a Scalable Additive Manufacturing Workflow Starts with the Right Order Management Process

2. Enhancing communication 

AMFG ordering portal example
An online portal can standardise the process of ordering 3D-printed parts – users can only submit files that fit pre-defined parameters [Image credit: AMFG]

With AM being a fairly new technology, there will inevitably be varying degrees of AM expertise within any company. The bigger the company, the greater the variance.

As a result, there is often a knowledge gap between the information required by the RP department and the information given by the end-user.

That’s why it’s important to educate users on what information is needed to ensure a successful print.

With available technologies and materials thoroughly described in the ordering portal, users are better informed on their options and, therefore, more open to using AM. 

3. Improving project management

In addition to simplified request management, Additive MES software provides project management tools, enabling your department to keep track of rapid prototyping projects more easily. 

For example, you can filter projects by a delivery deadline and prioritise those parts that need to be produced faster. 

Furthermore, advanced additive MES software offers integrated messaging tools, so your team can communicate on projects in one centralised platform.

4. Connecting with outsourcing partners

While your RP department owns many AM technologies, you’re likely still outsourcing a part of your rapid prototyping tasks, like post-processing, to partners. 

Without the right system in place, communicating with outsourcing partners and managing outsourcing jobs is a lengthy, inefficient process. 

Additive MES simplifies it by integrating your partners into the platform and providing a digitised process for routing projects to them. 

Essentially, this means time savings, because production outsourcing, with all the project requirements and deadlines, is done at a click of a button.  

Why now is the right time to invest in MES software for rapid prototyping?

If your RP team spends a lot of time on routine, manual submission tasks and users are frustrated by long lead times, then it’s a sign to consider new approaches to managing your rapid prototyping processes. 

Additive MES software proves to be one of the solutions that can benefit your RP department. It helps you automate workflow steps, like order management, while driving higher productivity and enhanced user experience. 

With a centralised ordering portal and the right project management tools, the RP department can service engineers and designers across their organisations faster and more efficiently. 

In the long term, streamlining rapid prototyping will help your organisation develop and launch new products to market faster, contributing to its competitiveness and revenue growth. 

Transform your rapid prototyping process with AMFG’s MES solutions


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