In the face of global supply chain shortages, it’s all hands on deck to help in the 3D printing industry — including on the software side.
Authentise offers a variety of solutions for manufacturing execution systems (MES), and they’re working now to do their part in addressing pandemic-driven manufacturing needs.
I spoke with Authentise’s Jordan Sousa, Business Development Representative – North America for an update on the company’s operations in these unusual times.
Authentise In The Time Of COVID-19
The software offerings from Authentise have long impressed us as they’ve continued to expand in terms of scope and applicability. They’ve partnered with the likes of Microsoft, Autodesk, and Prosper3D, have integrated directly with 3D printers, and have expanded to an app.
Now, they’re expanding to pandemic response.
“We’re looking at what we’ve seen globally in terms of the medical shortage, given travel restrictions, closures of nonessential businesses, closure of borders…it created a lot of supply chain shortages,” Sousa told me in opening to our chat. “One of those high-demand, in-need products and services are medical devices and PPE for COVID-19 frontline workers. What’s been amazing for me in terms of being in the 3D printing industry and seeing this unfold is seeing the industry rise to address that gap, everyone from small makers to 3D printing industrial shops, even just companies that have 3D printers for industrial needs. Anyone who can is printing parts for those in need. For me, thinking of 3D printing as a supply chain alternative is really the real opportunity of 3D printing itself, and something we specialize in on the Authentise side. The secret is having that IT side in place.”
Manufacturing PPE (personal protective equipment) has been a major focus for the 3D printing industry, with countless impressive efforts rising to the forefront of stop-gap supply chain solutions. (Of course some efforts haven’t been so selfless or effective, but we’ll focus on well-organized, validated work right now.)
Sousa referenced as one of the best examples he’s seen Carbon’s stepping up to produce a million 3D printed test swabs per week.
“Yes,” he said of Carbon’s nasopharyngeal (NP) test swab production, “3D printing can be used for the complex builds and overcoming certain challenges in engineering and manufacturability. COVID-19 is creating an opportunity for 3D printing to show high-volume, cost-effective production, and getting products into hands quickly. It’s a big opportunity.”
That big opportunity, though, must be addressed responsibly. As 3D printing is increasingly able to produce validated, effective medical supplies, more global attention is on this industry. While 3D printing can produce these results, it’s critical that especially in such medical equipment as testing swabs reliability and reproducibility remain in focus.
“At Authentise, we’ve been trying to push this information, to share this information with our industry partners and the industry in general,” Sousa continued. “We’re sharing how 3D printing is rising to the challenge of supply chain.”
To that end, they recently introduced a video series of additive manufacturing expert interviews addressing a number of different topics relevant to life and business in the pandemic.
Free Authentise MES License
On top of informing, Authentise wanted to put its resources and offerings to use directly in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.
“We don’t have printers, unfortunately, or I can tell you we would be printing — but our way of supporting the industry is to offer a license,” Sousa continued. “We’re putting together a free license we’re offering: a four-month license for anyone embarking on this initiative to 3D print PPE and medical devices for frontline workers. It’s our way of helping and supporting the industry in that sense.”
And so Authentise is offering a four-month license for its MES platform for those 3D printing PPE, ventilators, adaptors, and other medical response items.
“It’s heartening to see recovering signs in countries where the right strategies have been put in place. The right actions and responses can push back on #coronavirus infections!” Authentise posted on LinkedIn, also with the pleasant hashtag #togetherwewin
Sousa pointed to a few users who might particularly find the MES license useful, including those companies not used to seeing such high demand.
“They’re throwing their services out there and aren’t used to that volume of demand; we’re providing that pipeline transparency from order intake to getting the product shipped to frontline workers. What we can help with over this duration is the data capture. We can help you get this in there, look at the data after, and help with what you can do with that data. That’s what we specialize in. It’s an opportunity too to have companies start to understand what this data can tell you in terms of what 3D printing can do.”
This serves as a nice example of business strategy in the time of novel coronavirus. While Authentise is directly working to help support efforts to provide help to frontline medical personnel through manufacturing, they are also keeping an eye on the business end. Data interpretation is vital to a growing digital fabrication industry. Gathering and understanding manufacturing data will help this industry to grow in a sustainable, secured fashion.
“Service bureaus are of course one of the target markets we work in, along with OEMs” Sousa added. “What’s really interesting to me is seeing the collaborations between the OEMs, and operations like Ford, GM, and Toyota partnering with GE Healthcare to print PPE, and work on the more complex ventilators side, having a new design approved and ready for production. They were able to do this in a month, and that to me is amazing. If you work in the medical industry you know anything like this usually can take years; designing and manifesting can take years to go through that process. To see that happen in weeks — we’re seeing a new level of collaboration in those services. It makes it pretty complex when talking about a lot of facilities trying to coordinate, and that’s something we can help with, along with general business.”
Authentise notes that the free four-month license for their MES platform for any organization that is 3D printing supplies in aid of medical teams around the world includes:
- A simple way to track and manage orders from intake to shipment
- Total pipeline transparency for in-house production or outsourcing
- Automatic Email notifications for order updates