I still remember the day I became the proud owner of the perfect bicycle worth Rs 6000! I was excited and rode it a few times before it was stolen from my parking lot just a couple of weeks later… I missed riding my bicycle so much until I noticed these Green bicycles parked everywhere. These were provided by a start-up and anyone could rent them at a fraction of the cost for the duration one wants using a simple app. How easy, cost-effective, and affordable riding a bike became with sharing economy!! On top of that, I do not need to worry about storage or safety of the bicycle!
Want to run an errand, get an Ola or Uber, want to earn money sitting at home, just rent out your spare bedroom through Airbnb. We are using some or other form of shared economy in our daily life. Let us see how is manufacturing industry faring in this shared economy.
Source: Protolabs and AWS | Drawing relation between infrastructure as a service.
Advantages of Shared Manufacturing :
The scenario described above about bicycle sharing is the perfect example to understand what shared or decentralized manufacturing is. You are a designer, Small or Medium Enterprise or a hobbyist who wants to manufacture a product but don’t want to invest heavily to purchase the required machines. You can simply rent blocks of time on the machines owned by another business or corporate, produce what you want and voila! You have your product ready to be sold!
The manufacturing industry is taking baby steps towards shared manufacturing and advantages are quite encouraging. Gone are the days when everyone who wants to manufacture a product had to spend a fortune to own the required machines.
Better utilization of existing machinery
With shared manufacturing, already existing, under-utilized, idle machines can be effectively utilized by those who do not want to own a new machine but need access to it to manufacture a product. As multiple entities are accessing the existing infrastructure, the running capacity of otherwise idle machines can be increased. It is a win-win situation for both the owner of the machine as well as the entity who needs access to those machines.
Access to expensive machines at a fraction of the cost
Smaller companies with limited budget can use shared manufacturing for their product development without worrying about buying, maintaining, operating, storing or security of these machines. No need to invest heavily in expensive machines you might not use regularly. This makes it easy and affordable for any designer to design and manufacture a product.
Faster production cycle
As shared manufacturing is not limited to a single machine shop or to a physically confined infrastructure, it can significantly reduce the production time by using multiple machines simultaneously.
But how do I find out which machines are available in my vicinity or how much does it cost to rent them? Do I need to contact each and every machine shop to find out availability? The answers to all these questions lie in the use of Cloud and related technology.
Technology Solutions :
New age manufacturing portals, such as www.chizel.io, brings the unorganized standalone manufacturing units online, standardizes their operations and you can access them from anywhere in the world. All the machines in the Chizel network are connected to the Cloud. Anyone who wants to access the manufacturing facilities can upload their part or product design on www.chizel.io. COCO-BOT, the software brain powering the portal, takes care of everything. Your product will be manufactured per specifications and shipped to you. This is called decentralizing manufacturing.
Another advantage of shared manufacturing is scalability. A portal like Chizel can employ as many manufacturing units as needed to meet customer demand. It can also offer various manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing, CNC machining, Injection Molding etc. under one roof.
How Chizel’s Ecosystem Works?
Companies like GE are using shared manufacturing to involve the end user in the design of new products. One such innovative partnership between GE and Local Motors is called “FirstBuild”. The aim is to involve a community of enthusiasts, designers, engineers and makers to co-create new home appliances.
Decentralised manufacturing is currently at a nascent stage. Companies are using shared manufacturing cautiously for low volumes and non-critical parts. Standardization across the industry and increased digitization will result in wider acceptance of shared manufacturing in place of traditional manufacturing. And soon shared manufacturing with taking over a bigger market share.
By sharing already existing resources and assets, manufacturing industry can better utilize existing machine capacity without investing in new machines. Technology is the key enabler to bring all the stakeholders on a single platform and to streamline the entire operations. This is a great opportunity to minimize waste and increase productivity by using idle machines. Plus, it is good for the environment too!
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