Anglo American has begun exploring avenues to develop a digitally distributed supply chain for spare parts, with 3D printing the key to local manufacturing.
In partnership with the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and US-based technology company Ivaldi Group, Anglo American will look to develop printing capabilities for parts such as impellers for pumps, shaft sleeves, gasket bonnet valves, and rock-mining drill bits.
Ivaldi chief executive officer Espen Sivertsen said there’s little question as to how the industrial sector must develop further.
“We believe that digital distribution of physical goods is a natural next step for the global spare parts supply chain. It’s part of the fourth industrial revolution,” he said.
“Working with world-leading organisations like Anglo American and the CSIR, we are now practically demonstrating that there are significant savings for businesses and a net positive impact for the environment and associated communities.”
The project comes as part of Anglo American’s Collaborative Regional Development (CRD) strategy which aims to develop sustainable, long-term outcomes for the regions where the company operates.
Anglo American head of socio-economic development and partnerships Matthew Chadwick said the company’s FutureSmart Mining program has also been a large consideration for this development.
“Our FutureSmart Mining approach to sustainable mining is presenting us with new and innovative opportunities to build thriving and resilient communities, now and into the future. Through partnerships like this one with CSIR and Ivaldi, we are re-imagining long-established norms to help deliver enduring value to society,” he said.
“The ability to send files – not physical spare parts – will reduce our carbon footprint, delivery lead times and logistics costs. Importantly, this has the clear potential to create industrial and service jobs for host communities and surrounding regions through on-demand manufacturing systems to produce spare parts locally.”
Not only will the project aim to reduce carbon emissions, but will also create jobs throughout the supply chain.
CSIR’s business development manager Charl Harding said the idea is multi-faceted in its benefits.
“The 3D printing of parts along with the application of additive manufacturing technologies to refurbish worn parts offers the potential to create local jobs, promote innovation for the inclusive and sustainable advancement of industry and society, whilst responding to the critical issue of climate change,” Harding said.