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03 February 2020
The impact of Additive Manufacturing in the spare parts industry
FLUIDRA
Article written by PhD. Sergio Morales Planas (AM & Industry 4.0 leader)
The impact of Additive Manufacturing in the spare parts industry

This project is focus on the use of Additive Manufacturing Technology, looking forward to new solutions that optimize the production and supply chain cost of low demand references. Helping the company to achieve important operational improvements like, decrease the economic-accounting depreciation, reduce or eliminate the risk of obsolescence and reduce the spare parts delivery time.

Fluidra is a group of companies that are mainly engaged in the manufacture, development, distribution, and marketing of swimming pool equipment. The company operates with more than 20.000 references, manufactured in different factories around the world, with presence in more than 170 countries. For references with low demand and global marketing, the associated unit costs are high; hence the need to innovate in the search for new solutions that optimize production and the supply chain costs. Therefore, the project proposal is the use of additive manufacturing to produce these references.

The data used for this project comes from Unistral Recambios (Fluidras spare parts company). From a total of 8.403 references, more than 30% are categorized as Plastic (suitable for additive technology), corresponding to 19% of the total turnover of the company. These parts pass through several criteria filters, leaving the project with 1.847 suitable references (13,8% of the total turnover).

It has been made a list produced by additive manufacturing top references, based on the last data, and following three criteria: Design value, sales rotation, and customer delivery time.

Finally, a methodology based on a decision support system has been developed based on acquired knowledge, also known as the expert system. The model has been trained with the experience of several exploration cases providing design, manufacturing and a post-processing guide that helps the user to decide about the manufacturing process. In addition, this system verifies the technical and economic feasibility of additive manufacturing for a specific reference, estimating manufacturing and supply costs, based on the model developed by Hopkinson and Dickens, 2003. This model compares the costs of manufacturing the reference through MJF and PA12 in the central warehouse and manufacturing it by injection molding in the factory.

This methodology has been extrapolated to all the "plastic" parts obtaining a savings of 43% over the inventory value, and a reduction of customer delivery time up to 95%.

This thesis is the result of collaboration between the university (UPC) and the company (Fluidra SA) within the framework of the program of industrial doctorates of the agency AGAUR (Agencia de Gestión de Ayudas Universitarias y de Investigación) of the Generalitat de Catalunya.

The result of this work has been published in international journals:

  • Assessment of the Potential Economic Impact of the Use of AM Technologies in the Cost Levels of Manufacturing and Stocking of Spare Part Products (https://www.mdpi.com/1996-1944/11/8/1429)
  • Multi Jet Fusion PA12 Manufacturing Parameters for Watertightness, Strength and Tolerances (https://www.mdpi.com/1996-1944/11/8/1472).
  • Low temperature processing of solution-derived ceria deposits on flat surfaces of 3D-printed polyamide (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0040609019303463)




El Consorci de Zona Franca de Barcelona Fundación LEITAT




Project name: High Technology Incubators to promote Innovation and Technology Transfer to Micro-SMEs by the autonomous Community of Catalonia. Resolution IAT 1809.

Name of the operation: D-Factory High Technology Incubator in advance manufacturing, additive manufacturing and 3DP.

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