German bus manufacturer EvoBus GmbH is working with the expertise of Additive Minds, the consulting division of EOS, to implement additive manufacturing into their Customer Services & Parts (CSP) business unit.
EvoBus GmbH, a subsidiary of the Daimler Group, is one of the leading manufacturers in the global omnibus segment. Its products go to market under the brands Setra or Mercedes-Benz.
The CSP business model of EvoBus has been addressed with increasing costs for logistics and warehousing, as well as long lead times, from last many years. The company’s increasingly broad portfolio, as well as its promise to consumers to offer spare parts for buses over a period of more than 15 years, even after the discontinuation of series production, are responsible for these challenges.
Presently, EvoBus manages more than 320,000 active spare parts, many of which are kept on stock – and this number is increasing continuously.
Ralf Anderhofstadt, Project Manager CSP 3D-Druck, said, “by implementing 3D printing within our CSP business model, we hope to reduce the rising warehousing and tool costs caused by our growing inventory of omnibus spare parts, while also continuing to improve supply performance to our end customers.”
EvoBus took this partnership with Additive Minds as a great deal of potential in the production flexibility offered by additive manufacturing.
SUPPORT FROM ADDITIVE MINDS
Under the partnership deal, Additive Minds provided support to EvoBus at various levels: by hosting workshops and off-site support events, the company determined how EvoBus could take the full advantage of potential of industrial 3D printing and examined the customer’s entire supply chain.
One of the workshops hosted earlier, focused on a systematic approach to choosing the components ideal for additive manufacturing. EvoBus identified a total of 2,000 parts by applying a “part screening and selection” methodology created by Additive Minds and it has been used in over 50 customer projects across many industries.
Of these identified parts, 35 metal and polymer components were selected for an initial implementation phase. Additive Minds and EvoBus jointly examined the available options for digitization via reverse engineering and analysed potential service providers for this purpose, as there were no digital blueprints existed for many of these spare parts.
NEXT OBJECTIVE: 3D PRINTED COMPONENTS
A pilot project to produce the first batch of components was successfully realized at EOS in June 2017. It was an important milestone – reached earlier than expected. “Our collaboration with Additive Minds on the CSP 3D-Druck project considerably accelerated our work right up to the technical and economic proof-of-concept stage, enabling us to focus on and tackle a broad range of topics,” says Anderhofstadt.
The next objective of the project is to start producing additively manufactured parts directly at the end customer. Although a centralized production scenario at the Daimler plant is envisaged for the time being, plans to position the printer directly at BusWorld Homes and outside organizations are being considered for the medium term.