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IMPLEMENTATION OF ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING Vedanta, revolutionising the metal & mining Industry with 3D printed spare parts from Markforged 3D printers

Jan 18, 2022

Vedanta, a leading producer of aluminium in India, was facing some supply chain troubles in its metal and mining factories given the rigours condition its equipment was used. It reached out to Marforged to implement a sustainable disruptive technology to address all its nagging supply chain issues once for all. The case study elaborates on how Markforged’s Additive Manufacturing technology was implemented on-site to support all its requirements after in-depth analysis.

Vedanta, a subsidiary of Vedanta Resources, is one of the world’s leading oil & gas and metals companies with significant operations in oil & gas, zinc, lead, silver, copper, iron ore, steel, and aluminium & power across India, South Africa, Namibia and Australia. It has put a comprehensive framework dedicated to the highest ESG standards to emerge as leaders in this space. It is among the 24 Indian companies’ signatories to the ‘Declaration of the Private Sector on Climate Change’. It is committed to decarbonising its operations by 2050 or sooner and has pledged $5 billion over the next ten years to accelerate the transition to net-zero operations.

Vedanta Aluminium Business, a part of Vedanta, is India’s largest producer of aluminium, producing almost half of India’s aluminium or 1.96 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) in FY21. Vedanta is a leader in value-added aluminium products that find critical applications in core industries. With its world-class aluminium smelters, alumina refinery and power plants in India, the company fulfils its mission of spurring emerging aluminium applications as the ‘metal of the future’ for a greener tomorrow.

Supply chain challenges

Metal and mining operations are predominately businesses located in remote environments away from traditional supply chains, requiring a broad array of inputs. Given the rigorous conditions in which the equipment is used, spare/replacement parts are needed at high frequency. This leads to metal and mining companies having large inventories for replacement parts and long lead times for spare parts with huge bearings in operational downtime and economic impact due to this situation.

As a front-runner in technology innovations, Vedanta was looking at radically redefining some of the persistent supply chain issues at its metal and mining sites with immediate effect to improve operational efficiency. The coupling seal used in the forklift assembly needed frequent replacement within three months due to the friction in the fluid coupling kit. A seal kit in the auto bath grinding machine had to be replaced quickly, due to which the bath sampling in the potline was getting delayed. These parts for the forklift and the auto bath grinding machine were being imported and came with high cost considering the small-batch quantities ordered.

The downtime in the case of the auto bath grinding machine was critical, with almost 45 days of lead time. Spare parts were difficult to source as the machinery being used was old with OEMs out of business, and further, most of the spare parts were obsolete with no supply chain for replacement.

Bridging the SCM gap with 3D Printing

In line with its ESG mission statement, ‘Transforming for Good’, Vedanta sought to implement a sustainable disruptive technology to address such nagging supply chain issues once for all.
After an in-depth analysis of the best-suited alternative for imported spare parts, Markforged Additive Manufacturing technology was identified as a suitable partner. It was implemented on-site to support the spare part requirements.

Seal kit of auto bath grinding machine

Challenges

The seal kit in the auto bath grinding machine got worn out and broken, due to which bath sampling in the potline was delayed. The spare part for the auto bath grinding machine was imported from overseas, causing downtime by almost 45 days. Vedanta wanted to find a better solution against sourcing machine spare parts overseas. Orders are traditionally very costly as small batch quantities are needed very quickly. Parts were sometimes difficult to source because they were old, OEMs had gone out of business, or parts had become obsolete, and prints did not exist.

Solution & outcome

Vedanta partnered with Markforged to implement an on-site AM solution. Vedanta printed seal kit in carbon fibre has been in operation for the last three months and still functions smoothly. 3D printed parts together on-demand eliminates bottlenecks and saves money. The 3D printed seal kit now displays excellent stiffness, tensile strength and durability.

The 3D printed seal kit reduced the maintenance downtime by 45 days.

3D printed fluid coupling kit for forklift

Challenges

The coupling seals get worn out due to friction in the fluid coupling kit of forklift assembly within three months. The spare parts for coupling were imported from overseas. Vedanta wanted to find a better solution against sourcing machine spare parts overseas. Orders are traditionally very costly due to small batch quantities and are needed quickly. Parts were sometimes difficult to source as they were old, OEMs had gone out of business, or parts became obsolete, and prints did not exist.

Solution & outcome

Vedanta partnered with Markforged to implement on-site AM solutions. Vedanta printed seal kit in carbon fibre and has been in operation for the last five months and is still functioning smoothly. 3D printed manufactured parts together on-demand eliminates bottlenecks and saves money.

The 3D printed seal kit has displayed excellent wear resistance, tensile strength and durability.

The future – Ability to print spare parts on-demand

With the transition to Markforged 3D printers in the overall production process, Vedanta can now focus on quick turnaround time, reduced cost and durability as three to fourth months of downtime has been bridged to a few hours, thereby ensuring a winning proposition.

In the future, this initiative is a huge step towards enabling timely and cost-effective mobilisation for the metal and mining industry as it will make the supply chain of critical spares more seamless with 3D printed spare parts while significantly reducing the downtime of the machines.

On-ground owing to their superior quality, a true trademark of Markforged, the machines have been smoothly functioning for a longer duration. Operationally, this has been a boon for the metal and mining industry in India as it pitches the domestic manufacturers on par with international players who had a monopoly on the production of such critical spare parts at their convenience.

India’s key role in Additive Manufacturing has been redefined with such cases across various applications.
‘In a dynamic world, where everything must work seamlessly, Markforged 3D printed spare parts have been an excellent example of wear resistance, tensile strength and durability”, shared Bibhudatta Mohanty, Head of Innovation Cell, Vedanta Limited. “This has not only reduced the downtime significantly from a few months to only a couple of hours but has also resulted in significant savings per annum. Time is precious, and we are grateful to the innovations by Markforged that have made this possible.”

Courtesy: Markforged India

For more information contact anuj.budhiraja@markforged.com

Image Gallery

  • Supply chain challenges

  • Seal kit of auto bath grinding machine

  • 3D printed fluid coupling kit for forklift

  • Vedanta - Innovation Centre for Additive Manufacturing

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