Panalpina launches research into 3D printing and the supply chain

Logistics giant Panalpina and Cardiff Business School at Cardiff University are expanding their research partnership to include new manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing.
The aim is to help Panalpina’s customers identify the right products that could be switched from traditional to new, ‘additive manufacturing’ techniques which include 3D printing.
The use of 3D printers to create items such as car parts and other higher level goods are expected to increase as hurdles blocking their use are overcome. The current drawbacks include the cost of 3D printers, the speed of print, quality concerns and limited applications.
Mike Wilson, global head of logistics at Panalpina, said of the 3D research: “We have a supply chain specialist and an engineer working together with leading experts at Cardiff Business School.
“As with the first round of research, the findings of this exciting new project will find their way into our wider offering of Logistics Manufacturing Services which has already successfully transformed the manufacturing and logistics strategy of important Panalpina high-tech customers.”
This latest research programme will build on previous success when Panalpina and the Welsh university set out to search for the ‘hidden formula’ for lean inventories.
The result of the research allowed Switzerland-based Panalpina to launch D2ID, an inventory forecasting application.
“As a result of our initial partnership we now have a new application at hand that allows us to forecast the demand of a company’s products and plan its inventory accordingly,” said Nicole Ayiomamitou (pictured), lead researcher on the knowledge transfer project which was supported by the UK government.
“To achieve this, we have taken real inventory data from Panalpina and developed a unique product life cycle algorithm based on leading-edge mathematical thinking.”
Panalpina said that it has become the first global logistics company to develop its own application that helps customers manage, forecast and reduce inventory levels in their supply chains.
Explained Wilson: “We started off by mapping the inventories of our customers across product life-cycles. The more data we analyzed, the more refined we could make our inventory forecasting model.
“Thanks to bright minds like Nicole, we’ve now come to a point where we can accurately predict the points of inflection of inventories for all kinds of products across different industries. Based on that, we can estimate the maximum and minimum inventory holding for our customers.”
The benefit of this approach for Panalpina is that it can then predict how much space is needed at its facilities, where to position the facilities and what services to offer.
The benefit for the customers, said the logistics operator, is that they have a partner who will work with them to keep their products moving and minimize working capital requirements in their supply chains.
Professor Aris Syntetos of the Cardiff Business School stated: “We said from the beginning that we were not trying to re-invent the wheel.
“Simply put, the new application works at a product level, selecting and applying the best mathematical forecasting method at the click of a button.
“The application has been tested on various types of products, and the results are remarkable.”

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