Manufacturers benefit from AddParts innovative customer service portal

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A new online portal created by a South Yorkshire company that provides digital spares to the manufacturing industry has revolutionised its customer service experience for clients.

AddParts, an exclusive service of Addition Design based at the Advanced Manufacturing Park Technology Centre in Rotherham, supplies digital spares for automated production lines through the use of 3D scanning, digital data management and industrial 3D printing.

It gives manufacturing customers across a number of sectors a competitive advantage by reducing downtime on automated production lines.

Alongside major investment in a high-res 3D scanner and key staff, the firm has also established a portal system that provides a virtual stock room of components and in-production technology to ensure the back-end process run as smoothly as possible. This has drastically improved the communication between AddParts and its customers and streamlined the customer service experience considerably providing an all-encompassing ‘one-stop-shop’ offering.

Tom Fripp, director of Addition Design, said: “Our AddParts service is based on three core modules - the scanning, the portal and the printing but, for us, it is actually the portal that brings it all together.

“As we were developing AddParts it became apparent that a lot of two-way communication was needed between us and the engineers and this was done using screen grabs, emails and WhatsApp messages. 

“We were surprised by how much technical information was required and also by how much repetition there was, largely because we were dealing with different departments, and different people in the same company, often wanting information. We were also building up a lot of data and our customer had to ask us what information we had and didn’t have.

“It became evident that we needed a central hub that could provide a way for customers to manage the information we hold for them in an easy and accessible way, and once we started building this we quickly realised that what we were doing was building a store room for data. A virtual inventory of spare data which, on demand, could be converted into production data – the beauty of it is that it takes up no room, can be viewed by anyone with secure access, is absolutely bespoke to each customer and facilitates two-way communication in a way that is akin to a storeroom.

“The portal is organised by machine/plant list and shows each component that we store information for by part number/unique reference. The whole portal is searchable meaning if you know what you’re after it is super quick. Once you click on the part, you can view the 3D data we have, basic dimensions, production cost, materials, any specifics for that part and geometric validation. You can also view previous orders for that part and download their certificates of conformity as well as order more replacements. The portal also allows you to upload information like photos and descriptions about parts that are not on the portal, kickstarting the process to get that part on the system.”

AddParts now has grand plans for the portal system as it is a great way to facilitate two-way interaction directly at the point where customers need it the most. 

Added Tom: “We plan on extending it to allow bookings for planned shutdowns, downloadable regulatory statements for our materials, chat with engineers to talk through design changes as well as greater emphasis on tracking design changes to meet the requirements of our customer's regulatory systems change control procedures. It’s just the start of things to come!”

AddParts offers a unique methodology of unlocking the benefits of industrial 3D print technology to provide new opportunities and deliver even higher performance components with reduced lead time offering a really focussed solution that manufacturers can truly benefit from.

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