3D Printing in Construction Industry

Construction Machinery

The Challenge

For Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC), the largest construction company in the Middle East, machine downtime can be very costly. To mitigate this risk, large amounts of spare parts need to be kept as inventory: locking up physical space and cash.

In addition, the transportation of spare parts over long distances impacts the environment adversely by way of emissions and increases the carbon footprint of CCC.

The Solution

“What encouraged us to embrace inventory digitization is simplifying the supply chain and the ability to reproduce items in remote areas when and where it is most needed” – Eng. Aref Boualwan, CCC

By digitizing carefully selected components, Immensa Technology Labs was able to use additive manufacturing technology to provide parts on demand thereby freeing up some of CCC’s inventory and improving the environmental sustainability of their operations.

By locking the manufacturing parameters, CCC can be confident that each digitized part would be produced to meet their specific requirements each time an order is placed.

The Details

To ensure that parts digitized provided high value to CCC, a 360 degree approach was taken in digitizing and testing the parts. The stages in this approach are discussed below.

Immensa digital invetory solution is the first and only service in the region to provide a complete 360° solution

Immensa’s 360 Degree Approach to Inventory Digitization

Business Value Assessment (BVA)

Parts in CCC’s inventory were categorized into two groups: – Static Parts: stationary parts subject to ambient temperature and pressure – Dynamic Parts: moving parts exposed to high temperature and pressure

Business Case

An analysis of procurement costs, lead times, and part function revealed that most of the static parts were capable of delivering high value to CCC within a short period of time. Parts which were relatively complex in design and difficult to procure on time were thus selected for digitization

Product Development

The parts selected in the business case were evaluated for their operating conditions, mode of use, and material specifications. Based on this information, the appropriate materials for additively manufacturing the parts were selected, and the parts were reverse engineered, printed, and tested in the field. The various stages in the product development process for CCC are briefly discussed below.

Reverse Engineering

Using a 3D scanner, geometrical information is extracted out of the selected parts. CAD files are then made based on the extracted information and sent to a 3D printer for manufacturing.

3D Scanning

CAD Design

3D Printing

Based on the material required for printing, as well as the complexity of the parts, the most appropriate additive manufacturing technology was chosen. Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM), Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), Binder Jetting(3DP), and Stereolithography (SLA) are some of the technologies used for manufacturing the reverse engineered parts. The parts were fabricated in a variety of materials ranging from Nylon to rubber-like materials.

Field Testing

The printed parts were then tested on the construction equipment to ensure that they are easy to install and are functioning as expected.

Field Testing

Solution Roll-Out

Once the parts were tested and found to be functioning as expected, the digital files, print parameter sets, as well as any post processing information were stored for easy retrieval and use. CCC is also updated on which parts have been digitized and so can immediately place an order for it to be produced as and when they need it.

Digitized Parts in Database

Lifecycle Management

For the parts that have been installed in CCC’s construction equipment, details on when, how and what was used to produce them are stored and can easily be tracked to ascertain the root cause of any defect that might arise whilst the part is in the field. Also, technical support is constantly provided to CCC, and through a close working collaboration with them ways of developing the digitization process to keep up with their needs in the near future are being explored.

Results

Number of parts Digitized 8
Traditional Lead time range 5 to 45 days
Immensa DIS lead time 24 to 48 hours
Average cost savings using Immensa DIS 27%
By |2018-11-08T14:34:24+00:00April 4th, 2018|