One in ten manufactured parts imported to Europe since the outbreak of COVID-19 are being held up at EU customs clearance, slowing down production and innovation as businesses are waiting too long for parts to get through.
This is according to research conducted by 3D Hubs, an online manufacturing platform which grants engineers access to a globally distributed network of manufacturers.
The country most affected by customs delays in the first half of this year was Germany, with 20% of manufacturing orders being held up for further investigation. Across the EU as a whole, the average figure was 11%.
Such delays can last up to three days – a significant hold-up when compared to an overall seven-day manufacturing lead time. Manufacturing orders are usually stopped at customs due to the failure to provide Harmonized System (HS) codes, a number used to classify the order’s country of origin, destination country and type of imported goods. Besides extended arrival time, ordering manufactured parts to the EU requires businesses to pay VAT on each order upfront and fill in further paperwork to claim a refund at a later date.
Supply chain disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic have accelerated an already growing trend of companies diversifying their supply chain by moving production overseas in a bid to spread risk and build resilience.¹
In response, 3D Hubs is the first online manufacturing platform to de-risk overseas manufacturing by opening warehouses in Chicago and Amsterdam to manage customs clearance and additional quality inspections. These new locations will handle all customs administration, as well as hosting a quality control center to review all parts and ensure they are to specification before reaching the customer on time.
Bram de Zwart, CEO and Co-founder at 3D Hubs, said:
“Distributed manufacturing is the future-proof solution that offers engineers and product designers on-demand manufacturing capacity. We’ve already seen the advantages of a distributed manufacturing model, which continued to provide manufacturing capacity throughout a time of regional lockdown during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
“By undergoing digital transformation, the industrial sector has the opportunity to grow in revenue by $0.9 trillion.² But the future of the industry mustn’t be held back by unreliable sourcing and inconsistencies in customs clearance and quality control.
“3D Hubs has now overcome these last obstacles and provides engineers with consistently high quality parts delivered without customs delays. Alongside automated pricing, design feedback and sourcing, businesses can react to unforeseen events, such as a second wave of COVID-19, trade wars and new tariffs, with increased certainty. This level of reliability and efficiency will propel the industry forward.”
¹ Supply Chain Resilience Report. 3D Hubs, July 29, 2020.
² The trillion-dollar opportunity for the industrial sector: How to extract full value from technology. McKinsey. November 15, 2018.