ARE YOU READY FOR THE NEW SUPPLY CHAIN?
Originally published at 3dprintingindustry.com on April 27, 2020. Written by Mike Moceri.
Big companies may come knocking at your door as supply chains adjust after COVID-19. Will your 3D printing business be ready?
By Mike Moceri, founder and CEO, MakerOS
Earlier this month during a Saturday press conference, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York State said this:
“China is, remarkably, the repository for all of these orders – ventilators, PPE – it all comes back to China, which in the long term, we have to figure out why we wound up in this situation, where we don’t have the manufacturing capacity in this country. I understand supply chain issues, I understand the cost of manufacturing, but there’s a public health reason why we learned the hard way why we need the capacity in this country to do this.”
Many experts echo the governor’s point. The COVID-19 global pandemic is exposing how incredibly fragile the modern global supply chain is. Many companies experienced some kind of supply chain disruption due to the coronavirus, and some did not have a plan to deal with the disruption.
It’s becoming abundantly clear that heavy dependence on a single source for materials and parts is no longer sustainable, particularly if that source is overseas. The coronavirus may very well have jump-started the fourth industrial revolution, where industry becomes more reliant on modern societal components including 3D printing.
In a recent article in the Atlantic, David Simchi-Levi, an MIT professor who studies supply chains and logistics, said, “companies will come under pressure to diversify where they make their products.” Relying solely on outsourcing is out. Companies are already scrambling to find parts from alternative sources. These alternative sources will either become a permanent backup or the new main supplier – and those sources might just be you.
If you’re a small or medium-sized 3D printing service with less than 50 employees, you’re nimble and agile enough to turn around orders faster than any overseas supplier. Large companies may very well turn to you as we enter the fourth industrial revolution. But is your workflow ready to manage bulk orders from Fortune 500 companies?
Back in 2013, while I was running a 3D printing service bureau, my team and I received an order from a Fortune 500 company to print over 10,000 individual parts for a toy line. The project was challenging. Eventually, I realized that, considering how immensely large the job was, we should have priced about 70% more than what we originally quoted. This realization ultimately led me to start a company to help 3D printing and fabrication companies better quote and manage projects. That company is called MakerOS.
MakerOS is a collaboration platform for digital fabrication and 3D printing companies to improve client workflows. What exactly is a collaboration platform, in the context of a 3D printing company?
Take a second to think about all of the tools you usually use to manage day-to-day operations at a 3D printing company. You typically have a manual quoting process to price out new projects with spreadsheets. You have 3D viewers and CAD tools for analysis. You may use an internal project management platform to ensure optimal workflow. You have an online file hosting service to share and access files. You have an inventory management system to track materials and services. You have an accounting system to execute billing and invoices, and of course, you have email to communicate with clients and employees. All of these tools facilitate collaboration and communication, and effective collaboration and communication lead to successful projects.
We consolidated all of these tools into one platform that is specifically designed for 3D printing and digital fabrication services.
For clients, the platform is a secure, online hub to log in and submit projects, communicate with the service, view updates, upload and access files, and pay invoices.
For a 3D printing or fabrication service, that platform is a secure, online dashboard to manage projects, to communicate with clients AND the rest of the team, to find and collect all files in one place, to view all relevant files, and to get paid.
For everyone, it’s a collaboration platform.
Because the platform is all online, the web-based software enables managers to remotely manage both clients and teams from home. And so while it may be perceived that 3D printing companies cannot work remotely because of the nature of the status quo processes, the MakerOS collaboration platform makes working as a distributed team a realistic possibility.
Our clients have had huge successes using the platform. Within the first year of using the MakerOS software, one of our clients reduced their development cycle from three weeks to just 4 days and increased their revenue ten-fold.
Another one of our clients, an industrial 3D printing service, spent 10 months trying several other systems but kept landing back with MakerOS after realizing that other 3D printing software could not manage projects beyond the quoting phase.
Their VP and Co-founder said, “MakerOS has helped us organize everything, stay on top of client communication, and see the statistics of our service over time. It’s also increased the quality of how we process orders, which has translated directly to more orders being processed.”
You, too, can accomplish these wins and be ready for the fourth industrial revolution.
About the Author, Mike Moceri
Mike Moceri has deep experience in manufacturing, design, and software. In 2013, he co-founded the world’s first 3D printing retail service bureau in Chicago. In 2014 he founded Manulith, a 3D printing and product design agency, where his clientele included Fortune 500 companies within the aerospace, automotive, and medical industries. Mike is also a mentor at Stanley+Techstars Additive Manufacturing Accelerator, a mentor at WeWork Labs in NYC, and formerly a mentor at TechTown Detroit. He’s previously been featured on MSN, Make Magazine, NBC, and the Encyclopedia Britannica. D-Business Magazine called him the “Face of 3D printing,” and 3Dnatives named Mike one of “The Most Influential Personalities of Additive Manufacturing in 2020.”
Mike was the founder and CEO of MakerOS, an all-in-one business operating software for manufacturers, engineers, designers, and fabricators to facilitate modern product development. Shapeways acquired MakerOS in April 2022.