Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


DISCO Report Summary

Project ID: 717690

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - DISCO (Data Integrated Supply Chain Optimisation)

Reporting period: 2016-04-01 to 2016-11-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

To continue to prosper in high value manufacturing sectors, European businesses need to operate in the most efficient and cost effective manner leading to competitive pricing and maintaining world class standards of quality and delivery performance. It is therefore critically important to the success of European manufacturing businesses that companies – especially SMEs - can form integrated extended enterprises with other collaborating businesses so that all parties can focus on their core competence and offer competitive differentiation in the market. A critical success factor however is the alignment of disparate company business processes and embedding an integrated systems platform that enables collaborating businesses to streamline communication flow, order book status, capacity availability, inventory and performance levels. The consequences of not doing so will lead to operational inefficiencies and waste which will ultimately lead to poor customer satisfaction and /or competitiveness.

DISCO will enable fragmented manufacturing SMEs to collaborate and form competitive extended enterprises, optimise performance through real-time scenario planning and proactively manage supply chain risk and resilience.
The initial design of the collaborative supply chain platform was conceptualised through several years PhD research with University of Liverpool with inputs from an EU Framework 7 Project (Remplanet) and an ERDF funded supply chain collaboration project (Collaborate to Innovate) which has enabled the team to clearly define the challenge faced by manufacturing supply chains and the potential opportunity leveraged from supply chain collaboration and disparate systems integration.

DISCO will enable to provide dynamic supply chain mapping and real-time scenario planning so that manufacturing SMEs optimise their internal production planning and external supply chain planning. SMEs can view the structure of their immediate supply chain and their sub-tier supply chain i.e. their suppliers’ suppliers etc., view real-time supply chain performance and order book status, inventory and manufacturing capacity and provide an integrated platform for extended enterprise tendering for collaborating SMEs so that they can compete with larger organisations. This will provide unprecedented visibility and optimisation decision support European manufacturing companies to monitor and mitigate supply chain risk, create dynamic collaborative supply chain networks by streamlining operations and reduce waste to improve global competitiveness.

This disruptive technology poses many technical, operational and commercial challenges that will need to be overcome through an experimental approach. For instance, developing middleware to integrate with disparate SME ERP systems is very challenging from a technical perspective, data integrity and scalability / commercial viability. The collaborative platform only succeeds if it is widely adopted which is challenging in the early phases and an innovative commercial and technical approach will be required to secure early adoption. Furthermore the user interface analysing upstream and downstream valuechain data must be very intuitive and simple to use even though the platform will be managing very complex logic in the background.

The added value to the European economy from this project will be significant: dynamic manufacturing SME benchmarking; increased competitiveness through reduced costs and lead-times; development of SME extended enterprises; support OEMs to reduce supply chain risk and optimise overall valuechain performance.

Environmental Benefits
Providing improved visibility of valuechain big data, such as customer demand and supplier capacity, will enable high value manufacturing companies to improve the production planning and overall equipment effectiveness of its plant and equipment which will ultimately reduce carbon emissions and production waste. Improved communication and visibility of intercompany logistics will also reduce unnecessary transport and fuel costs.

Economic Benefits
The key exploitable output of the project will be a software package (sold as a service) that will enable European high value manufacturing businesses and European government cluster organisations to analyse valuechain big data to form competitive and agile supply chain networks that will deliver the following impact:
• Maximize the utilization of plant and equipment by enabling proactive planning due to improved upstream and downstream supply chain visibility.
• Minimize costs and maximize profits by better utilising internal resources and removing supply chain waste.
• Maximize customer service by offering a one stop shop through the development of integrated extended enterprises with supply chain partners and offering strategic differentiation by providing visibility of performance and order book
• Minimize inventory and WIP costs by reducing volatility and need for supply chain buffer stocks.
• Minimise procurement costs by accessing real-time valuechain procurement data to enable demand aggregation, economies of scale price negotiations, and streamlining the inventory replenishment process.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

This Interim report summarises the key activities and achievements for the first 8 months of the DISCO project. We are ahead of the original project plan and have had several technical and commercial successes as explained within the report such as:
• successful trials and piloting of software solutions
• engagement with several global aerospace associations and strategic partners
• recruitment and development of sales, marketing, technical and operations teams
• embedding robust internal business processes and systems to underpin scalable growth
• winner of Northern Stars award and several global pitching events to accelerate engagement with venture capitalists in readiness for Phase 3.

• Developing iQluster demonstrator (new product name for iQlusta) so that they can be piloted and tested with industry associations (such as the aerospace associations of UK, Portugal and Netherlands) and manufacturing businesses (such as Bombardier and Meggitt).
• Refining production control solutions and business improvement applications to be commercial grade tested with clients ranging from niche aerospace micro-SMEs through to primes such as Bentley Motors.
• Prototyping of supply chain big data modelling with Strathclyde University
Business Development & Marketing:
• Attendance at several global industry exhibitions
• Generation of marketing collateral and new website
• Engagement with global reseller partners
• Collaboration with multiple global industry associations to connect with their members, capture supply chain intelligence and promote inter-network collaboration
• Engagement with multiple pilot manufacturing primes and suppliers to capture feedback on commercials and return on investment

Infrastructure Enterprises Group Ltd acquired Tricorn Systems Ltd in March 2016 and the two businesses have been successfully integrated and focused on delivering DISCO objectives.
• Several key recruitments have been made in technical, marketing, sales and operations roles which is underpinned by a robust training plan.
• The required hardware and software has been acquired and commissioned to provide the necessary infrastructure for developing and piloting the new technologies.
• Best practice business processes are being implemented from software development, data security through to CRM.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Valuechain is actively engaged with more than 20 global industry associations to pilot state of the art supply chain collaboration and intelligence solutions and enable their members to create new competitive supply chain business models.

UK's Aerospace & Defence Association (ADS) have identified 40 progressive SC21 companies to collaborate as 4 working groups which share benchmark information and best practices. iQluster has been configured to enable the aerospace companies to connect and share data securely between collaborating businesses.

Valuechain have been working closely with the Portuguese Aerospace Cluster PEMAS which is leading collaboration strategy for the European Aerospace Cluster Partnership (EACP). Valuechain has developed a working demonstrator system which was formally presented to the EACP members in October 2016 to understand end user requirements. As a result we have agreed to initially pilot iQluster directly with EACP and with several aerospace organisations around Europe.

The Meggitt supplier excellence team provided data on their 6000+ suppliers so that we could configure iQluster to provide a working demonstrator solution that could be presented to key Meggitt decision makers attending the Farnborough Airshow is July 2016.

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