In today's complex industries, introducing new processes for knowledge-intensive products and services that bring added value and enhance competitiveness requires close cooperation among industrial partners. Both functional and technical interoperability, as well as highly informed knowledge and expertise, are important at every stage of a product's or service's life cycle. The EU-funded project SMARTNETS worked on addressing this challenge. It elaborated a novel industrial model for collaboration among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) throughout the product and network life cycle, focusing on the shift from development partnerships to production networks. Put more simply, this helps SMEs combine competences and resources to overcome obstacles such as targeting new markets, handling new materials or applying new technologies. In this context, SMARTNETS designed tools and methods to support networks as they grow, all the way to final production and marketing. The approach is supported by the concept of smart organisations involving flexible virtual teams, dynamic processes, advanced communication technologies, combined competencies and synergy in development. In summary, the project team worked on supporting three key pillars: product life cycle, network coordination, and conscious transformation from development to production. A valuable series of complementary results emerged from the project in the form of processes, methods and guidelines to support SMEs in the industrial arena. The results were disseminated online, through events and through a variety of publications. They included a set of five results in different sectors such as textiles and motorcycle accessories, as well as tools for implementing the SMARTNET solutions. If SMEs exploit these tools and methods, they stand to make superior products and services that will enhance growth, contribute to the knowledge economy and make Europe more competitive.
Products and services, added value, SMEs, product life cycle