Meet the Supply Chain’s Latest Asset: Distributed Manufacturing

The COVID-19 pandemic made the complex world of supply chain management even more daunting, as manufacturers faced challenges unseen in recent memory. The supply chain’s fragility was put on full display as climate disasters, geopolitics and a worldwide health crisis were thrown into the works.

Greg Paulsen, Director of Application Engineering for Xometry, spoke about a decentralized distributed manufacturing model that helped support the supply chain throughout this past year and will continue to provide solutions in the future.

So, what exactly is a distributed manufacturing model?

“In a typical supply chain, what we’re used to is a local-to-local interaction when you’re working to get something made,” Paulsen said. “What we’ve done at Xometry is embrace this distributed manufacturing model, which is creating a digital platform to connect buyers and suppliers in a way meaningful to the project’s success. We’re connected with over 5,000 manufacturers globally. We have one site. When someone is a buyer, an engineer, or someone looking to get custom manufactured parts made, they’ll go to our single-platform site, and they’ll specify their work. Often, we’ll provide instant pricing via a machine-run feedback loop. And when they press ‘buy,’ they have access to thousands of manufacturers.”

Distributed manufacturing generates opportunities for both buyer and supplier. A supplier used to producing only local manufacturing jobs can get work from people in other states or parts of the world they would never have otherwise received under a standard localized manufacturing model.

And, with distributed manufacturing, if a regular supplier goes down due to a pandemic or natural disaster, a buyer can move quickly to find other manufacturers.

“Distributed manufacturing is a supply chain that consolidates the vendor list for those buyers,” Paulsen said.

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