Leading Omnibus Manufacturer EvoBus Started Using 3D Printing in Production
EvoBus GmbH, a subsidiary of the Daimler Group, is one of the leading manufacturers in the global omnibus segment. In order to continue expanding its pioneering role in times of increasing competitive pressure, EvoBus decided to pursue two strategic aims: sustainably increase its profitability and enhance its capacity to innovate. Additive manufacturing and industrial 3D printing became their key tool in reaching these targets.
For years, the Customer Services & Parts (CSP) unit of EvoBus GmbH has been confronted with rising costs for warehousing and logistics, as well as long lead times. These challenges are driven by the company’s increasingly broad portfolio, coupled with its promise to customers to supply spare parts for buses over a period of more than 15 years, even after series production has been discontinued. EvoBus currently manages over 320,000 active spare parts, many of which are kept on stock – and this number is continually growing.
Problem with overproduction
Minimum purchase volumes frequently lead to overproduction. In many cases, the company was forced to purchase 15, 20, or even 100 parts, even though only one was required. This dependency on innumerable suppliers caused a great deal of uncertainty: with repeat orders, there is the risk that the supplier no longer has access to the necessary blueprints and tools, or that financial modifications may be required.
With conventional production processes, finding an answer to the growing challenges would be far more difficult for EvoBus GmbH. By contrast, the company saw a great deal of potential in the production flexibility offered by additive manufacturing.
– 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, says Ralf Anderhofstadt, Project Manager CSP 3D-Druck.
Starting point: "part screening and selection"
In order to successfully integrate industrial 3D printing within its organization, Daimler Buses decided to rely on the expertise of Additive Minds, the consulting division of EOS, right from the early project phase. Additive Minds examined EvoBus' entire supply chain and determined how they could exploit the potential of industrial 3D printing to the fullest. By applying a “part screening and selection” methodology EvoBus identified a total of 2,600 such parts. Of these, 35 metal and polymer components were selected for an initial implementation phase.
Industrial 3D printing has already solved many of the current CSP challenges faced by EvoBus. In the long term, it also has the potential to increase the company’s profitability and innovative strength, as well as safeguarding its pioneering role. As the project continues, EvoBus’ additive manufacturing portfolio will be expanded to include additional spare parts made from polymers and metals. Another phase of the project will also fully digitize any remaining analog components to improve the overall efficiency of the spare parts division of the business.
Unproductive downtime was reduced
Thanks to the shorter lead times, the unproductive downtime of their buses is reduced to the bare minimum. Moreover, additive manufacturing allows the complexity and functional integrity of the produced parts to be optimized, empowering EvoBus GmbH to respond even more effectively to specialized customer requirements in future.
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