Aalto University and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd launched a research project focusing on digital spare parts in collaboration with 13 companies. The project studies new operating and earnings models, current and future technological potential, and builds preconditions for a functional network.
The purpose of the project is to promote the transition from traditional production chains of spare parts to a dynamic network model that generates added value by means of digitisation. The spare parts and any relevant information would be transferred and stored in digital format. The spare parts would be manufactured using 3D printing according to need, usually close to the end user's premises.
In the industrial sector, the business for 3Dprinted spare parts is still undeveloped, and there are no functional networks concentrating on spare parts. There are various associated challenges and development needs, with such questions as guaranteeing the operational reliability of critical parts, materials offering, issues related to data security, digitisation of big and complex parts, and creation of a functional service chain in particular.
Big production plants maintain large sparepart storages, where a vast amount of spare parts may wait for quite long periods of time to be taken into use. 'In companies like Wärtsilä, the capital tied up in materials and equipment may amount to hundreds of millions of euros. If we could release, say, even 5% of this capital by means of digitisation, the impact would be substantial,' says Jarno Salonen, Business Development Manager at Wärtsilä, which is one of the companies participating in the project.
The project aims at creating opportunities for Finnish companies to lead the way in setting up an international network of digital spare parts: "We expect the project to create new international business opportunities," says Tomi Kalpio, who is one of the main owners and founders of 3DTech Oy. The company has already carried out trials to manufacture 3Dprinted spare parts.
The project of approximately EUR 1.4 million is part of Tekes' Industrial Internet programme. The two-year project launched at the beginning of 2016 is funded by Tekes and the participating research organisations and companies: 3D Online Factory Ltd, 3DTech Oy, AM Finland Oy, Hetitec Oy, Kone Corporation, Laserle Oy, Materflow Oy, Multiprint 3D Oy, Patria Aviation Oy, Raute Corporation, Rolls-Royce Oy Ab, Sacotec Components Oy and Wärtsilä Finland Oy.
Open interactive workshop for companies
The Federation of Finnish Technology Industries functions as the co-operation partner for the project. The first joint effort will be the open interactive workshop (in Finnish) for companies to be held on 8 April, where the organisers present the content and goals of the project and the companies involved are invited to highlight their own views.