An increasingly globalised marketplace and rising competition from Asia are prompting the European manufacturing industry to streamline its operations and to differentiate itself. Part of this effort involves improving delivery of manufactured products between suppliers and customers based on better coordination, communication, transparency and allocation through an interconnected pan-European industry chain. The EU-funded project 'In time delivery in non-hierarchical manufacturing networks of machinery and equipment industry' (INTIME) worked on achieving this objective. Espousing a non-centralised and market-driven philosophy, the project articulated a framework for improved delivery. It applied control loop logic to purchasing and to the customer–supplier relationship, facilitating communication through an online business-to-business platform dubbed myOpenFactory. The system encouraged external transparency by evaluating a supplier's performance. It strengthened internal transparency by quantifying the monetary value of an in-time delivery. In this context, the establishment of a market price for delivery reliability automatically improves delivery and boosts planning, efficiency and performance in the manufacturing sector. Put more simply, the project team developed an electronic market for trading reliability incentives. In addition to internal and external transparency mechanisms, this involved better prioritisation of orders through improved planning and sequencing software. To test its system, INTIME produced a complete framework for different products to help companies improve delivery reliability. In parallel, it completed a study on the reasons for sub-standard delivery practices and established a network-wide supplier performance dashboard to enable direct comparison among suppliers. Another key achievement was a novel tool to assess the direct impact of missing parts and delayed deliveries on the company. Advanced messaging and archiving mechanisms within myOpenFactory have also contributed to automated communication between customers and suppliers, facilitating cost-efficient, continuous and transparent information exchange. The project's results were disseminated through several global conferences, exhibitions, publications and the project website. If myOpenFactory is fully exploited, the European industry stands to gain substantially from the resulting efficiency and related online networking.
Product delivery, business-to-business, customers, suppliers, manufacturing, transparency, control loop, myOpenFactory