As any operational engineer will tell you, the issue of down-time has many causes, and the cost of down-time can often be alarming.
One of the key players in mitigation of down-time is access to the right spares, at the right time. Sound simple? It’s not!
A good spares strategy will centre around risk to operations and attempt to ensure swift resolution to industrial failures. Tying up capital with a large stock holding is far from ideal but nevertheless is commonly accepted. Will we be left at the project conclusion with ten examples of some item which was never called into service? Almost certainly.
From our own experience, we’ve seen offshore operations put on hold for a multitude of reasons. From jetting-sub nozzles to acetal riser clamps,the most inanimate of parts can bring work to a halt.
Taking the acetal clamps as an example; an urgent request for manufacture of these parts will normally result in the traditional effort of ‘subtractive’ manufacturing. A block of material, larger than the part needed will have it’s mass gradually reduced, sometimes by a range of machines, until only the required geometry remains. The same geometry can be produced within hours of order by one single 3d print machine, which only added the material which makes up the final part. Counter-intuitively, the 3d printer will complete the part using less time and effort than it would to create a solid block of the same swept volume.
Additive manufacturing (the grown-up name for 3d printing) is available today to help business solve problems, using polymers and metals with real world industrial applications.
Additive manufacturing is not new, we’ve been at it for centuries. Without it we’d put a roof over our head by pouring house-sized bricks and chipping away at them until we’re left with a bungalow.
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picture by Theresa Otero ?