Implications of additive manufacturing on complexity management within supply chains in a production environment.

by Andre Kieviet

Institution: University of Louisville
Department: Department of Industrial Engineering
Degree: PhD
Year: 2014
Record ID: 2027183
Full text PDF: http://ir.library.louisville.edu/etd/747


This dissertation focuses on developing a generic framework for using additive manufacturing as an appropriate production method to address the management of complexity in supply chains. While several drivers such as changing customer demand patterns and intensifying global competition increase product complexity, the available number of product variants and related processes within the supply chain itself increase costs and dilute scale effects. Several concepts and tools like mass customization, modularization, and product platforms have been developed in the past decades, but most of them focus on the product structure. Currently, there is no comprehensive tool set developed in the field of complexity management that incorporates all aspects of supply chain performance (costs, service, quality, and lead time) and evaluates the impacts of additive manufacturing to manage the complexity in the supply chain. This dissertation was developed primarily to address this research gap. The literature review in this dissertation provides in-depth reviews on specific topics in the field of additive manufacturing production technology, supply chain management, complexity management, and complexity management in supply chains through additive manufacturing. The dissertation presents the development of a framework for supply chain performance and complexity measurement with a focus on costs and performance depending on production technology. This framework will be the basis for measuring the impacts of additive manufacturing on supply chain performance and level of complexity, by using modeling and reconfiguring supply chain models, and applying complexity management tools in conjunction with additive manufacturing. Based on the findings, a generic framework is developed to identify when and how to apply additive manufacturing to enhance complexity management capabilities in supply chains. Two case studies will be used to show an application field, where additive manufacturing would require additional time, while another case study suggests the usage of additive manufacturing in the context of supply chain complexity: A case study of a control panel supply chain will provide an overview of the implications of substituting an injection molding production technology with an additive manufacturing technology on the supply chain and its complexity. Another case study of teeth aligners shows how additive manufacturing helps to improve supply chain complexity by substituting plaster tools with an additive manufacturing technology.