Despite its reputation as a company that specializes in forwarding and logistics services between global locales, Panalpina’s latest partnership is about locating customers and production as close to the buyer as possible. Through a partnership with Shapeways, a U.S.-based 3D printing service and marketplace for consumers, Panalpina is looking to “dramatically change the traditional manufacturing and logistics industries,” according to Mike Wilson, Panalpina’s global head of Logistics.
This new production model, sometimes called “onshoring” or “nearshoring,” upends the traditional approach, in which manufacturers mass-produce products thousands of miles away, ship them to market and then hawk their gizmos through retailers. Recently, production has started moving away from this centralized manufacturing model to a more distributed one. In addition, customers are looking for customization, which is costly and time-consuming over long distances, but easier to provide through localization.
Shapeways allows designers to upload their products to Shapeways.com, after which consumers purchase the product from the website. Shapeways then “prints” the product with a 3D machine and the designer receives a royalty.
Panalpina fits into this picture by taking advantage of Shapeways’ software and expertise in 3D-printing materials, equipment and processes. In return, Panalpina offers Shapeways geographical expansion possibilities and extra muscle in logistics, manufacturing and distribution.
“Panalpina is ideally suited to assist with the final steps in the manufacturing process, including last-mile delivery,” explained Shapeways CEO Peter Weijmarshausen. “In addition, they are investing in their own 3D-printing research and capabilities. This demonstrates how committed and serious Panalpina is about the technology.”
Below, a closer look at how Shapeways works: