For users of construction industry equipment, downtime is killer – especially in an economic environment like this one. According to the American Institute of Architects, construction spending in both residential and commercial sectors is expected to continue growing at a healthy pace through 2018 and 2019. They also say that the possibility for a massive infrastructure package – an idea that’s being bandied about Congress – would push the industry even further into the black, putting pressure on construction businesses to get the job done, and quickly.
For companies like Volvo, a heavy footprint in construction equipment manufacturing and aftermarket parts means looking for solutions outside of the traditional. Enter 3D printing, a technology that Volvo CE is said to be using to target a number of customer pain points, including small batch printing of replacement parts.
Volvo says it is using additive manufacturing to provide parts for legacy equipment, especially those older machines still in use, where it doesn’t make sense to continue to produce replacement parts in a more traditional way. The company emphasizes speed and efficiency, since the process requires no minimum orders, and Volvo benefits from better visibility into supply and demand, and lower inventory levels of replacement parts.
According to 3Dprint.com, plastic parts can be made for any unit of Volvo’s off-road construction machinery and the company is even experimenting with metal to be potentially used down the road. Or, down the off-road.
Volvo CE is also said to be experimenting with using 3D printers for prototyping, a strategy the company says keeps its product development moving along at a fast clip and improve time-to-market.