The impact of additive manufacturing on sustainability of inbound transportation

University essay from Jönköping University/IHH, Centre of Logistics and Supply Chain Management (CeLS); Jönköping University/IHH, Centre of Logistics and Supply Chain Management (CeLS)

Abstract: Background: Emerging technologies enables manufacturing companies the opportunity to stay competitive and at the same time focus on increasing their sustainability impact. One such technology is additive manufacturing which has the potential to change the way manufacturing is performed and impact entire supply chains of manufacturing companies. Multiple studies have been done in the twenty-first century regarding additive manufacturing’s sustainability impact on logistics, although there is little research that focus on impact of additive manufacturing on transportation from a sustainable perspective. Purpose: The purpose of this study is to explore the impact additive manufacturing has on the sustainability of inbound transportation. Method: A qualitative research strategy was used to explore the field of study through a multiple case study method. Through two cases, raw material providers and manufacturers within the additive manufacturing industry, data was gathered using semi-structed interviews. Conclusion: Findings from this study shows that additive manufacturing may have a sustainable impact on inbound transportation from an environmental, societal, and economic perspective. Additive manufacturing is more environmentally sustainable than conventional manufacturing for the inbound transportation leg from the raw material supplier to the manufacturing company since the technology requires lower volume of raw material to be transported, it leads to a higher transport efficiency, less frequent transportation need, and requires no return transportation. In economic impact it leads to fuel savings, less frequent transportation with less material, and a reduced inventory holding. Access to remote areas together with easier and safer material handling is the societal impact from using additive manufacturing instead of conventional manufacturing.

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