Re-SWOT your business with 3D printing in mind – Opportunities

In a prior post of this series, I explained why it is wise to (re)SWOT your business with 3D printing* in mind and in another one I suggested assessing the potential Threats your organization could be facing. In this post, it’s about Opportunities offered by the new manufacturing ways.

*I use “3D printing” and “additive manufacturing” interchangeably

Reminder: with the recent progresses in 3D printing (and 3D scanning) with regards to materials that can be 3D printed, every business is potentially at risk to discover a 3D printed substitute offered by an unsuspected and probably unknown competitor.

Yet what is a threat to some is an opportunity to others. The ability to offer a faster, cheaper, highly customized or whatever new product or alternative offer incredible new opportunities.

3D printing may break many barriers to entry, opening wide the gateway to previously protected markets.

Any competitor should evaluate the emerging opportunities to redefine the rules in his/her business with additive manufacturing and the opportunities to diversify or expand into new markets.

Some questions to assess the potential Opportunities your organization could be considering

The intent of the following questions is to make you think about the potential opportunities of a 3D printed product. The list of questions may evolve and readers are welcome to suggest additional or alternate ones (please use the comments).

  • Can you imagine any way 3D printing being applied in your business?
  • If 3D printing would be used in your business, what would it be for?
  • Can you think about a (more) disruptive way 3D printing could be used in your business?
  • What 3D printable product or substitute, if it (would) exist, may give you a cutting edge competitive advantage?
  • Could you offer a 3D printed substitute to existing products? What would its advantages be? What new or additional value would it bring? Would your customers want it?
  • Can you imagine expanding your business entering a new market (or segment) with a 3D printed product?
  • Are there any barriers to entry to a protected market you’ve considered that could be taken down with 3D printing / additive manufacturing?

You may have noticed that these questions are very similar to those about Threats. It is no surprise as opportunities for some are threats for others.


If you liked this post, share it!

Chris HOHMANNView Christian HOHMANN's profile on LinkedIn

Re-SWOT your business with 3D printing in mind – Threats

In a prior post of this series, I explained why it is wise to (re)SWOT your business with 3D printing* in mind. In this post, I propose some questions to assess the potential Threats your organization could be facing.

*I use “3D printing” and “additive manufacturing” interchangeably

With the recent progresses in 3D printing (and 3D scanning) with regards to materials that can be 3D printed, every business is potentially at risk to discover a 3D printed substitute offered by an unsuspected and probably unknown competitor.

Some questions to assess the potential Threats your organization could be facing
The intent of the following questions is to make you think about the potential threats of a 3D printed product. The list of questions may evolve and readers are welcome to suggest additional or alternate ones (please use the comments).

  • Can you imagine any way 3D printing being applied in your business?
  • If 3D printing would be used in your business, what would it be for?
  • Can you think about a more disruptive way 3D printing could be used in your business?
  • What 3D printable product or substitute, if it (would) exist, may disrupt your industry / your market / your business?
  • If a 3D printed substitute suddenly appeared, could you offer the same?
  • Does your organisation have any knowledge about 3D printing? Any know-how? If not, how and where would you quickly get the capacity to propose the 3D printed product? (me-too offering)
  • Did you evaluate how much savings a 3D printed substitute could earn?
  • Compared to 3D printed part or product, what are the advantages of your traditional way of manufacturing?
  • Would your customers continue to pay for if they had the choice with a new 3D printed substitute?

It is possible that going through the questions above, you sense opportunities more or as well as threats. Fine! Opportunities are the next topic to explore.


If you liked this post, share it!


Bandeau_CH8View Christian HOHMANN's profile on LinkedIn

Re-SWOT your business with 3D printing in mind – Introduction

In a previous post* I assumed that 3D printing, general naming for additive manufacturing techniques, will revitalize strategic business analysis.

*Will 3D printing revitalize strategic analysis?

In this series of posts, I’d like to invite people in charge or with influence on strategy to reconsider their business with the new possibilities offered by 3D printing.

The incredible pace of innovations among which many real disruptions with 3D printing may surprise unaware business owners. On the positive side, they are many new possibilities to rethink and expand business. On the negative side, one may be put out of business by unexpected new competitors or shift in technologies or a combination of all.

What is it all about?

Additive manufacturing is totally different to traditional manufacturing. Material is “printed” thin layer after thin layer in simple or complex shapes and various materials until the finished 3 Dimensional part is finished on the printer’s bed. Those parts can even embed printed full functionally moving parts, like gears or ball bearings.

Traditional manufacturing cuts away material from a bigger rawling and usually requires many steps and different resources to get the finished part.

The advantages of additive upon traditional manufacturing are already tremendous and everyday new breakthroughs are reported.

Additive manufacturing needs no costly moulds nor toolings, fixtures or jigs, it does not even need skilled workers to operate the machines.

3D printing does not require minimum batch sizes, a tremendous advantage for short lead time and low inventories.

3D printing parts allows changes on the fly, which is top for highly customized production, inventory reduction, quick response to quality issues, and so on.

From this short list, by far not complete, everyone can sense the competitive advantages offered by these new technologies.

Now, it’s time for everyone to assess the current business with additive manufacturing in mind.

In the next post I’ll introduce SWOT analysis: Strength Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats.


Bandeau_CH4View Christian HOHMANN's profile on LinkedIn

Why you should (re)SWOT your business

There is barely a day without a new announcement about a 3D printing* breakthrough or new 3D printable material or finding 3D printing new applications.

*I use “3D printing” and “additive manufacturing” interchangeably

In most cases, 3D printing allows a totally new approach and reinvented value proposition, e.g. printing teeth, prosthetics, glasses frames, mechanical parts or fully functional systems, etc.

3D printing frees from many constraints, especially molds, complicated assemblies, other expensive tooling or multiple steps machining necessary to cut away material in traditional manufacturing.

It does not require to have huge series to ensure low unit cost and is “infinitely” flexible for design  changes and ready for almost any customization.

Additive manufacturing challenges former accumulated experience in traditional manufacturing and does not require expensive machines, thus breaks down many barriers and opens markets to new entrants.

As many applications of additive manufacturing already proved, there is virtually no business safe from 3D printing/additive manufacturing applications and the threat of new entrants.

Chances are that an unexpected competitor arises overnight with a revolutionary new approach to satisfy your customers, ruining years of investments, efforts and accumulation of experience.

The (potential) irony is that this new competitor can not only steal your business, but lock your company out of the market if it does not have the competences, know-how, agility nor resources to switch to the new manufacturing way.

Therefore it is wise for every – emphasize EVERY- business to SWOT-analyse itself from the perspective of the new manufacturing way.

Reminder: SWOT stand for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, a strategic analysis tool to assess the company’s position on the market and compare it to existing and potential competition.

Should Weaknesses and/or Threats prevail, the company is possibly in danger.

Yet 3D printing can also help reinvent the way your company does business and exploit the Strengths and/or Opportunities going the 3D printing way.

One more reason for swoting your business.


You may also be interested in:

If you liked it, share it!


Bandeau_CH4View Christian HOHMANN's profile on LinkedIn


Goal Tree is a Lean tool

This post title may sound provocative to all readers knowing the Goal Tree origins lay with Theory of Constraints and to hardliners of each philosophy wanting to keep their toolbox clean of “imported” tools, yet it won’t change the fact that a Goal Tree is a Lean tool.

Goal Tree

Goal Tree

1. Goal Tree as its name tells is totally goal-focused

Starting with the Goal statement is totally in line with Jeffrey Liker’s first principle the 14 principles of The Toyota Way: “Base your management decisions on a long-term philosophy, even at the expense of short-term financial goals.

The Goal Tree sets a benchmark for the long-term in order to achieve the organization’s Goal or purpose. The Goal is by definition far away, otherwise it would rather be called an intermediate objective on the way to achieving the “real” Goal.

Once the Goal is stated, the Goal Tree describes all Necessary Conditions to achieving it, thus an explicit invitation to take all necessary management decisions. As the focus is on the Goal, the short-term goals are nothing else than Necessary Conditions or Intermediate Objectives and never a diversion to fetch a short-term opportunity.

2. Goal Tree’s necessity based logic filters out all nice-to-haves

A Goal Tree is built on a cascade of Necessary Conditions which are allowed into the Tree only if they comply to the necessity logic. The test is binary: if the condition responds positively to the condition “in order to have…[objective], we must have…[condition]”, than it passes the test. If the suggested idea does not respond to the test, it does not fit into the Tree.

This means that a robust Goal Tree is lean as it is built only on strictly Necessary Conditions and the required or available resources will therefore be used only for really necessary things!

Conversely, everything that would consume any resource without being strictly necessary (muda) is discarded, keeping the Tree lean.

3. Goal Tree trumps Hoshin Kanri

In my opinion, Goal Tree “trumps” Hoshin Kanri when it comes to list all the necessary breakthroughs to achieve mid to long-term objectives.

The reason is the same as above: the necessity logic that guides the analysis of what is required vs. what we have, hence the gaps that must be filled with breakthroughs.

Hoshin Kanri is too open and to pervious to nice-to-haves as it intrinsically lacks the filter to keep them out, the necessity logic.

Yet to be fair, Hoshin Kanri does better than Goal Tree in later steps, when the breakthroughs must be broken down into short-term objectives with proper KPIs and resources allocation. While Hoshin Kanri does it all within the same X matrix, the Goal Tree needs other logical trees or action plans to do it.

Hoshin Kanri X matrix

Hoshin Kanri X matrix

This is why I like to combine both: start the analysis of what gaps to fill with the Goal Tree and then feed findings into a Hoshin Kanri.

If you like this post, share it!


About the author

About the author

View Christian HOHMANN's profile on LinkedIn

Trial and learn approach with PDSA

PDSA is a variant of Shewhart’s PDCA (Plan Do Check Act) cycle where Check is replaced with Study. It is used to structure a series of trials or experiments and learn from the results.

Let’s look closer at each phase:

Plan means:

  • describe what is to be achieved, the goal, the outcome
  • frame the improvement efforts and
  • align efforts onto the goal
  • prepare a set of “experiments” supposed to improve the situation
  • prepare the “how” the collected data will be analyzed

Do means:

  • carry out the planned actions
  • collect data

Study means:

  • analyse collected data
  • compare results to predicted outcome
  • capture the lessons learned (influencing vs. neutral factors)

Act means:

  • according to latest results and accumulated experience, what is the next cycle about, i.e. what are the next assumptions?
  • start a new PDSA cycle with a new set of assumptions

Tips:

  • limit the ambition for each cycle and prefer several small incremental steps rather than quantum leaps. “Learning will be improved if fed in small bits”
  • keep the experiences simple by limiting the number of variables

Smaller steps allow to adjust better and faster to small (environmental or system) parameter changes. Smaller steps and limited number of parameter i.e. simpler experimentation is easier to carry out with non-specialists like shop floor personnel.

During the Study (S) phase:

  • look for consistency of actions carried out vs. those planned
  • check if conditions, support, etc were as planned, no biases
  • is the result an improvement?
  • is the system as a whole improved or is it just a local improvement?
  • can we conclude the original assumption(s) is/are valid?

PDSA compared to PDCA

With PDCA, the Check phase suggest an existing benchmark, reference or standard against which to assess the result of the Do phase. It is a compliance check. In PDSA the importance is building knowledge and improve by trial-and-learning. In PDSA, the failure to improve is as valuable than the improvement, as there is a lesson to be learnt behind it.

Any comments?

Bandeau_CH40_smlView Christian HOHMANN's profile on LinkedIn

Introduction to Throughput Accounting

Throughput accounting comes early for all studying Theory of Constraints.  The simplest is about the 3 KPIs: Throughput (T), Operating Expenses (OE) and Inventory (I) – later changed to Investment – and their relationship for higher profits.

Later, Throughput accounting is used to make sound decisions to maximize profit despite limited means, favoring the products with highest “octane”, which is the Throughput per time unit of the constraint.

Here is a 18 minute ‘essentials’ about Throughput Accounting provided by the London School of Business and Finance (LSBF).


View Christian HOHMANN's profile on LinkedIn