Facing stiff competition from manufacturers in the Far East and the United States, Europe’s electronics industry needs to capitalise on opportunities to streamline the supply chain through shared knowledge, collaborative decision-making and cultural understanding. To this end, a number of non-hierarchical networks that inherently involve greater information exchange have already been formed. Enterprise resource planning systems provide an adequate view of operations and can be used to build links to other companies. However, they fall short in providing transparency on the strategic and tactical planning levels. Against this backdrop, CONVERGE (Collaborative communication driven decision management in non-hierarchical supply chains of the electronic industry) brought together a consortium of experts representing the European electronics industry, academia and technology providers. CONVERGE is an EU-sponsored tool that enables sharing of strategic information between customers and suppliers along the entire supply chain, allowing reliable data to be exchanged securely and confidentially. The newly developed Open Decision Management Framework illustrates how to combine open exchange, production planning and resource optimisation throughout the process of making a decision. The Framework ensures that management decisions along the entire supply chain are taken based on relevant and up-to-date-information from other partners in the network. Although the portal’s main use is for decision management and access to policy information, a few other tools have also been integrated. The ‘knowledge explorer’ helps users to share their knowledge with each other, and an ‘execution flow viewer’ can graphically monitor live processes. CONVERGE is poised to simplify networking between European companies along the electronics supply chain. This improved communication should enhance the ability of SMEs to plan and adapt to rapidly changing global markets.
Decision-making, electronics industry, information exchange, CONVERGE, Open Decision Management Framework