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Transforming Spare Parts Management

Introduction

AddParts, a division of Addition Design, is based at the Advanced Manufacturing Park Technology Centre in South Yorkshire. Established as an R&D company seven years ago, Addition Design aimed to commercialise industrial 3D printing through various methods such as design for additive manufacturing, 3D print audits, and training. 

In 2020, Addition Design expanded its capabilities by investing in in-house 3D printing equipment, which laid the foundation for the creation of AddParts. 

AddParts offers an innovative on-demand digital spares service that leverages advanced 3D scanning, digital data management, and industrial 3D printing, for automated production and packing lines, offering customers a competitive edge by reducing downtime and costs associated with traditional spare parts supply chains. 

Objective: Why 3D Scanning was introduced 

In 2020, the global supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19 and Brexit severely impacted the availability of spare parts for automated production lines. To mitigate these challenges and enhance their service offerings, AddParts sought innovative solutions, to streamline the reverse engineering process, improve accuracy, and reduce the time and cost associated with traditional methods. 

The main objective behind introducing 3D scanning was to address the growing complexity and precision required for producing replacement parts. Traditional reverse engineering methods using calipers and more basic 3D scanning tools proved inadequate for more intricate components, leading to inefficiencies and inaccuracies. To overcome these challenges, AddParts invested in advanced 3D scanning technology to enhance their reverse engineering capabilities, ensuring high-quality and precise component replication.

Challenge faced with previous processes 

Before adopting advanced 3D scanning, AddParts faced several challenges: 

Complex Geometry: Traditional reverse engineering tools were inadequate for capturing the intricate details of complex parts. 

Preparation Time: Preparing parts for scanning with basic equipment was time-consuming and had an impact on productivity. 

Accuracy Issues: Achieving the necessary precision for high-quality parts was difficult, leading to potential errors and inefficiencies. 

Data Utilisation: Collected data was underutilised, leading to inefficiencies and missed opportunities for optimisation.

To address these challenges, AddParts invested in the Creaform HandySCAN 307 Elite, a handheld 3D scanner known for its accuracy, versatility and portability. 

Solution: HandySCAN 307 Elite 

The strategic investment in the HandySCAN 307 Elite has transformed AddParts’ operations and service offerings. 

The SILVER Series is part of the HandySCAN 3DTM line-up, the industry standard in portable metrology-grade 3D scanners. This proven and trusted patented technology captures accurate and repeatable 3D measurements of any complex surface in any location, optimised to meet the needs of technology innovators and engineering professionals looking for a powerful, accessible, and reliable way to improve product development, shorten time-to-market, and reduce development costs. 

Application

AddParts has a very interesting use of 3D Scanning technology which includes scanning obsolete or broken parts, design, and 3D printing. Alongside this and unique to them is their digital stockholding portal, which allows their customers to follow the part progress and order parts from a digital storeroom. 

The 3D data they take during scanning and reverse engineering is held on a secure server allowing customers to sign in, and view plant list and parts for each machine. Each component can be identified by part name/number or from the 3D data held, as well as other critical information taken during the scanning process. 

Their customers can view production costs, and accuracy information to verify that the part is accurate to the calibrated scan data as well as view previous order history and download a copy of certificates of conformity. 

Their customers can also order parts from the portal, upload details for components not yet in stock as well as make bookings for site visits to coincide with planned shutdowns. 

AddParts serves a diverse range of industries, with notable applications including: 

Pharmaceutical Manufacturing: Scanning and replicating components such as guides, star wheels, and format parts for vaccine manufacturing and packing lines 

Subcontract Packing: Producing parts for blister packs and capsules used in automated packing lines for household pharmaceuticals. 

Medical Device Production: Ensuring high precision and quality in parts used in medical devices and equipment. 

Carton and Leaflet Production: Supplying critical components for gluing and folding production lines, essential for high-speed printing and packaging operations. 

An example of the latter is a leading carton and leaflet production company serving the pharmaceutical industry, that faced significant challenges with downtime and high costs associated with spare parts for their gluing and folding production lines. The need for a steady stream of replacement components often led to long lead times, inventory management issues, and substantial expenses tied up in maintaining physical stock. 

By working with AddParts they achieved over 40% cost savings on critical components and the new digital storeroom significantly reduced their operational downtime. Replacement parts, such as folder/gluer clamps and folding plate locking handles, were received within only four days, compared to the typical lead time of up to two months and the rapid production and delivery of spare parts streamlined operations, allowing high-speed production lines to be maintained without the previous risk of extended downtime.

Benefits: Why 3D Scanning was the Right Choice 

The adoption of the HandySCAN 307 Elite brought several benefits: 

Eliminates Extensive Preparation: The blue light scanner required minimal part preparation, saving significant time. 

Enhanced Precision: Capture detailed and accurate scan data for complex geometries, across various materials without special preparation. Improving accuracy in part reproduction, to meet stringent quality standards required in sectors like pharmaceuticals. 

Increased Efficiency: Reduces the time needed for scanning from over an hour to just 10-15 minutes per part, enabling faster turnaround. 

Reduced Downtime: Scanning on-site and creating a digital storeroom allowed for quick reordering and production of parts, slashing replacement times from weeks to days. 

Cost Efficiency: Reduced the need for physical inventory, freeing up cash and space while lowering the overall cost of spare parts. Lowered the costs associated with spare parts by over 40% in some cases. 

Operational Efficiency: Minimised disruptions to production lines and streamlined the reverse engineering process.

Results

Since introducing 3D scanning, AddParts has observed significant improvements: 

Accuracy: Achieved higher precision in part replication, ensuring better functionality and fit. 

Customer Satisfaction: Enhanced service delivery, leading to increased customer satisfaction and expanded client base. 

Time Efficiency: Reduced scanning and preparation time from over an hour to 10-15 minutes per part. 

Business Growth: The service has doubled AddParts’ turnover in the past 18 months due to enhanced capabilities and customer trust. 

“We are thrilled with the outcomes of introducing this advanced 3D scanning technology into our operations. With this investment, we can help our customers further reduce downtime by eliminating the need for them to send us their components for reverse engineering. Instead, our team can travel to our customers’ automated production lines, scanning parts on-site and significantly reducing the time lost in transit. The scanners’ accuracy and versatility allow for the capture of detailed scan data, enabling the production of high-quality components and parts with exceptional precision”. 

Tom Fripp, Director at AddParts 

The Final Outcome

The strategic investment in the HandySCAN 307 Elite has transformed AddParts’ operations and service offerings. The ability to scan parts on-site, create a digital inventory, and quickly produce high-quality replacements has provided substantial time and cost savings for their clients. 

This innovative approach has solidified AddParts’ position as a leader in the digital spares industry, delivering unparalleled value and efficiency to their customers.

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