The EFPF project demonstrates the power of federation through three embedded large-scale pilots focusing on lot-size-one manufacturing and on establishing fast, sustainable value networks in aerospace, furniture manufacturing and waste management sectors. The piloting activity will form the basis for socio-economic impact assessment of the EFPF platform. The pilots will also initiate an ecosystem for large scale experimentation through cascade-funded open calls to achieve a critical mass that is essential for future sustainability of the EFPF platform. A brief overview of the pilots is provided below. All pilot activities have now been completed and the results are available in the Deliverables.
Adhoc Aerospace Supplier Networks
Large OEMs, such as Airbus, have streamlined their supply chains and reduced the number of 1st tier suppliers to a small number of large preferred suppliers (typically large companies such as Thales, Honeywell). Other constrains such as extensive risk sharing requirements, complex procurement and collaboration procedures, rules and diversity of IT systems create strong barriers for SMEs to become a 1st tier supplier of those companies.
On the other hand, highly customised products such as commercial aircraft, often require very specific solutions developed and provided by small but innovative high-tech companies. The customer demands, e.g. for novel cabin features, must be developed and produced in very short time with close collaboration of OEMs and high-tech SMEs. This typically requires, an ad-hoc production / supply network and currently this is best served via a local cluster around the OEM.
As soon as the parties are geographically separated, the OEM and the innovative SMEs (organised in industrial clusters), need ICT solutions (technical platforms, novel governance approaches, coordination tools and services) to simplify the ad-hoc setup and management of collaborative production in the agile network and to manage the IPR, etc.
The interoperable toolset in the EFPF platform can support the enactment of distributed production processes, support collaborations and provide vital visibility to distributed activities taking place across production networks.
Lot-Size-One in Furniture Manufacturing
The need to find new customer segments for increased turnover is pushing furniture manufacturers to diversify both production systems and supply chains. The traditional clients of the Home segment, who buy from a catalogue with different options to personalise the furniture, coexist with new clients of the Contract segment (hotels, offices, …) that demand an integral service of furnishing and decoration. Sometimes this service is provided entirely by a third party (decorator, interior designer), sometimes it must be provided by the furniture manufacturer who accepts the order and deals with different suppliers.
This new form of business requires substantial modification of "traditional" supply chains, since now, it must be the furniture manufacturer that seeks other suppliers (e.g. lighting and textiles), or someone in charge of the complete installation of the project. The production process is also affected, since in this case it is oriented towards the manufacture of unique products that deviate from the company's catalogue. These unique products are manufactured in unit-sized lots, customised for a specific project.
The new business models in the Furniture Manufacturing sector can benefit from EFPF platform that facilitate search and selection of suppliers and/or products with certain characteristics; and also those that allow monitoring of manufacturing processes, coordination of deliveries, and planning of both internal and external activities throughout the existing or newly created supply network.
Agile Supply Networks in Circular Economy
This pilot scenario addresses the agile supply network through circular economy activities involving multiple European companies from the manufacturing ecosystem. At present, the supply chain and business relationships in the manufacturing ecosystem are being managed via traditional communication means. Key issues include the lack of waste tracking and tracing functionality, lag in material transition phases and entry barriers for new innovative European companies related to limited awareness of business opportunities within the ecosystem and complexity of collaboration procedures. Both research and real-world examples highlight the issues concerning the interoperability and integration of enterprise systems.
The federated services of EFPF will provide tools for the integration of enterprise systems and a marketplace for negotiating business contracts concerning waste collection, management and purchase-back of the processed/recycled material by the manufacturing companies. The current, limited availability of shop-floor automation tools and support for agile network management; as well as the need for experimentation and validation of existing solutions in real-world conditions necessitate the use of an EFPF-like environment in the circular economy scenarios.
The EFPF platform provides digital tools that enable SMEs to take part in closed-loop supply chain activities and also develop new business opportunities through multi-sided marketplace feature.