A framework for integration of additive manufacturing technologies in production networks
Flexibility in manufacturing operations is becoming increasingly important to industrial firms, due to e.g., increasing market demand volatility and shorter product life cycles. Additive manufacturing technologies show great potential in adding flexibility to manufacturing operations through nearly unlimited freedom in product design, very high product mix flexibility, decentralized production and the ability to produce new product variants after a very short period of time. This could result in shorter lead times, lower stock levels, higher product availability and lower transportation costs. Therefore companies have to incorporate the increased flexibility in their decision, especially on the production network level, when they decide whether to use additive manufacturing or not. Current methods are not able to take into account all of these flexibility types and the respective benefits. The application of an appropriate method could lead to a realistic evaluation and an increased use of additive manufacturing technologies. This paper evaluates state of the art methods, especially from the field of strategic production network planning. The main contribution of this paper is the development of a framework for integration of additive manufacturing technologies in production networks using the Real Option value as target criteria. Finally, we discuss where further research is needed in order to develop an applicable method based on the presented framework.