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Title: Rapid manufacturing as an enabling technology in supply chain improvements
Authors: Ranganathan, Rajesh
Issue Date: 2007
Publisher: © Rajesh Ranganathan
Abstract: Rapid Manufacturing (RM), the direct production of a finished product, is a newly emerging manufacturing technology projected to provide supply chain benefits. However, there is a lack of information detailing its expected benefits in the supply chain. Robust, generic guidelines are needed in order to help practitioners cope with this emerging manufacturing technology. The aim of this research is to establish the benefits and difficulties of RM in supply chain along with an indication of the possible changes required to sustain RM as a future potential manufacturing machine. There is a common consensus that an information system is required for the effective functioning of the supply chain. This study concerns the integration of RM within the supply chain information system. As the parameters of the supply chain and information system applications are many, the research is focused on a specific set of parameters. Critically, the focus of the study is on identifying how RM would improve customisation and reduce lead time and inventory on products. The application of the information system is also examined. With the research focused towards the future, technological forecasting of RM's impact on the supply chain and information system is considered. Adopting scenarios the application of RM is explored in various supply chain structures, A performance analysis of RM is undertaken by means of a questionnaire involving people with relevant experience. From the results, decision analysis on supply chain structures adopting RM is undertaken to select a suitable structure for the manufacture of a product through RM. A decision-analysis tool kit is developed and products are grouped according to the criteria suitable for the application of RM. Validation of the decision-analysis tool kit and the suitability of RM in the supply chain is carried out via a case study of the production of a prosthetic product. The results how that the developed decision-analysis system works simply and effectively. RM is suitable for application in various supply chain structures; it provides a new dimension ('in-depth') in customising products as well as reducing inventory and lead-time. However, the full effectiveness of RM is entirely dependent on the supply chain structure adopted. Hence, some changes required to sustain RM as a future potential manufacturing system are suggested. Finally, the case study is used to illustrate the possible application of RM in improving selected parameters of supply chain performance for the manufacture of customised products.
Description: A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/8074
Appears in Collections:PhD Theses (Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering)

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