Hypermetal Uses AMFG’s MES to Cut Lead Times and Inventory Costs

16 October 2023
HyperMetal

Hypermetal, a Portuguese service bureau specialising in metal additive manufacturing, selected AMFG as their MES solution in 2022. Following the process of implementation, we check in with Hypermetal’s owner, Afonso Nogueira, on the challenges they faced pre-AMFG and how the business is able to stay competitive with other small parts outlets through AMFG’s efficiency gains.

The Challenge

Hypermetal is not just a service bureau. Among its many services, it provides consultation on all stages of the metal additive manufacturing process, including DfAM, topology, and production design optimization. Non-AM techniques, namely CNC machining and heat treatments, are also part of Hypermetal’s offering, primarily serving as post-production finishing techniques. Hypermetal works across a range of industries and with a diverse selection of materials, including aluminum, stainless steel, tool steel, Inconel, and cobalt-chrome.

Hypermetal’s clientele comprises two categories: first, the flagship complex projects in the aerospace, defense, and industrial sectors, to which the company dedicates most of its time and brainpower. Committed to serving these sectors, Hypermetal are implementing ISO9100 for aerospace, so they reach the best industry standards.

The second type of client is the smaller customer: those seeking one-off parts, research prototypes, and lower-volume orders, all of which Hypermetal is equally dedicated to fulfilling.

However, for this second type of client, Hypermetal faced the challenge of competing with the higher demand on other marketplaces. Using these competing services, customers interested in ordering smaller parts are able to process a quotation in one click, explaining their higher demand. In other words, lead times were not competitively short enough, and Hypermetal was searching for a way to optimise smaller-customer engagement and production efficiency while it focused its core efforts on meeting the demand of higher-stakes, higher-volume customers.

The Solution

Having been aware of AMFG and other MES solutions for some years, Hypermetal opted for AMFG, citing the robustness and reliability of the software package compared with competitors.

It was in particular the Instant Quote functionality that provided the most significant solution to Hypermetal’s quandaries: now, the business is able to stay competitive with other service bureaus, and customers are more likely to select Hypermetal as their provider for smaller parts, planting the seed for larger, higher-volume projects from these clients down the line.

AMFG simplifies the whole process for these types of clients, where they can very easily upload a part, get a quotation, and receive the parts seamlessly in three to five days. We ended up automatising the process on our side so that we are able to focus more on production and follow-up of the other projects.”
Afonso Nogueira – Owner, Hypermetal

The full deployment of AMFG on Hypermetal’s live website is nearing completion, and Mr Nogueira remarked upon the quality of support he received during the implementation process, which made him comfortable that AMFG was the right choice for his business.

All of the different platforms for support are very well organised. All our questions have been addressed very assertively. I have had a great experience.”
Afonso Nogueira – Owner, Hypermetal

The Result

For a company that adopts an Agile methodology like Hypermetal, being responsive to customers’ changing needs is of the utmost importance. While Instant Quote cuts lead times for new customers, customers demanding repeat parts must also be able to do so in a timely manner given that the part has already been produced once before. And yet, where there are minor alterations to be added, an interactive portal where every build parameter is visible and able to be modified makes much more sense for smaller volume custom parts than cumbersome reference numbers and email threads:

When the client requests repeat parts, with the digital warehouse, we can get that much more organised. For a client like this, we already know the support strategy, the orientation, and how we’re going to produce it. And they can just go there and say, okay, I want five more, click, and we automatically receive it. It’s much more organised than the process of going back and forth with emails.”

Afonso Nogueira – Owner, Hypermetal

The functionality has also meant that Hypermetal’s clients need to keep less volume of stock since builds can be prepared and stored in a virtual spare parts library, saving space, warehouse costs, and worker time – resources that are better spent on other areas of the business. In effect, efficiency has gone up and the bottom line has come down.

QUICKER COSTING

As well as shorter lead times for Hypermetal customers thanks to the Instant Quotations and Digital Warehouse functionalities, the powerful Internal Quotation feature has also cut down considerable time for cost estimations.

Hypermetal already uses the feature to send manual quotations to customers, since the tool can be used to estimate how much time a job will take to print, the post-processing time, et cetera. Hypermetal puts full trust in AMFG’s “drag and drop” solution, and allows the company to get quick and easy ball-park figures for even the larger, manually processed jobs.

Looking to the future

Where Hypermetal is using AMFG’s MES for lower-volume customers of additive manufacturing, the company has every intention of using the software for completing higher volume builds and those that use non-AM manufacturing techniques:

What we do is mainly metal additive manufacturing, but we also do CNC machining. In the future, I think we will have the option of integrating CNC parts on our site through AMFG.”

Afonso Nogueira – Owner, Hypermetal

Hypermetal has recognised the power of AMFG’s recordkeeping, with traceability of all parts of the manufacturing process working “right out of the box”. Nowhere are these quality management tools more important than in the aerospace industry, builds for which figure among Hypermetal’s larger contracts. Since every step in the chain is recorded, the process of gaining quality management certification is simplified, and as time goes on, Hypermetal will explore this functionality for facilitating the work it does for some of its largest and most significant customers.

Hypermetal’s adoption of AMFG’s MES solution has significantly transformed its operations and competitive advantage in the market. By incorporating features like Instant Quote, Digital Warehouse, and Internal Quotation, the company has successfully optimized lead times and inventory costs, enhancing its appeal to both smaller and larger clients. This MES solution has not only enabled Hypermetal to streamline its processes for metal additive manufacturing but also opened up possibilities for integrating other services like CNC machining in the future.

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