Supply chain tactics.

Today SAP, a technology giant that offers cloud-based solutions, announced the release of its Distributed Manufacturing program. The new software extends scalable functionality for manufacturers to collaborate with 3-D printing companies, service and materials providers, and original equipment manufacturers.

Part of the Leonardo Portfolio of solutions, the Internet-of-Things software connects departments and vendors that were formerly disjointed. “Through integration with SAP S/4HANA, it supports the entire end-to-end, quote-to-contract process, enriching standard procurement objects with all required details on how to make the part through additive manufacturing,” a company spokesman said.

Companies continue to examine the full supply chain to mine new efficient processes; 3-D printing options are becoming a go-to answer to facilitate cost-effective manufacturing strategies.

“As 3-D printing technology advances beyond prototyping, more companies are rethinking their manufacturing and supply networks to take advantage of cost-effective local production, customization and rapid delivery to meet changing customer expectations,” said Dr. Tanja Rueckert, executive vice president of internet-of-things and digital supply chain at SAP. “After successfully co-innovating with our customers, we are now delivering a solution for manufacturers to have a standard and scalable business process to intelligently manage design, material, pricing, procurement and logistics decisions in a collaborative network to drive more effective industry 4.0 strategies.”

Piloted by customers including HP, Stratasys and AP Works, the technology aims to optimize 3-D printing as a means to meet end-consumer demands. With shoppers expecting expedited product deliveries, brands — and their correlating supply chain partners — are charged with deploying quick and accurate technology. Implementing versatile and flexible software that underwrites customizable options is paramount as consumers shift priorities to products that express their individual preferences.

Product lifecycle management (PLM) companies such as Lectra and Bamboo Rose similarly aim to bolster transparent communication and workflow between design, product development, and manufacturing companies.

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