More than 2,000 parts identified

AM becomes a core element of spare parts management at Daimler Buses

For years, the Customer Services & Parts (CSP) unit of EvoBus GmbH has been confronted with rising costs for warehousing and logistics, as well as long lead times. EvoBus GmbH, a subsidiary of the Daimler Group, is one of the leading manufacturers in the global omnibus segment.

These challenges are driven by the company’s increasingly broad portfolio, coupled with its promise to customers to supply spare parts for buses over a period of more than 15 years, even after series production has been discontinued. EvoBus currently manages over 320,000 active spare parts, many of which are kept on stock – and this number is continually growing.

With conventional production processes, finding an answer to the growing challenges in the field of Customer Services & Parts (CSP) would be far more difficult for EvoBus GmbH. By contrast, the company sees a great deal of potential in the production flexibility offered by additive manufacturing: »By implementing 3D printing within our CSP business model, we hope to reduce the rising warehousing and tool costs caused by our growing inventory of omnibus spare parts, while also continuing to improve supply performance to our end customers,« says Ralf Anderhofstadt, Project Manager CSP 3D-Druck.

support at various levels

To implement additive manufacturing into their CSP business model, EvoBus chose to rely on the expertise of Additive Minds, the consulting division of EOS. Additive Minds provided support at various levels: by hosting workshops and off-site support events, Additive Minds examined the customer’s entire supply chain and determined how EvoBus could exploit the potential of industrial 3D printing to the fullest.

One of the early workshops focused on a systematic approach to selecting the components suitable for additive manufacturing. By applying a »part screening and selection« methodology developed by Additive Minds and used in more than 50 customer projects across numerous industries, EvoBus identified a total of 2,000 such parts. Of these, 35 metal and polymer components were selected for an initial implementation phase. Since no digital blueprints existed for many of these spare parts, Additive Minds and EvoBus jointly examined the available options for digitization through reverse engineering and analysed potential service providers for this purpose.

Next objective: 3D printed parts for end customers

A pilot project to manufacture the first batch of components was successfully realized at EOS in June 2017. This was an important milestone - reached earlier than expected: »Our collaboration with Additive Minds on the CSP 3D-Druck project considerably accelerated our work right up to the technical and economic proof-of-concept stage, enabling us to focus on and tackle a broad range of topics,« says Anderhofstadt.

The next objective of the project is to start making additively manufactured components directly at the end customer. Although a centralized production scenario at the Daimler plant is envisaged for the time being, plans to position the printer directly at BusWorld Homes and outside organizations are being considered for the medium term.