CORDIS - EU research results

Local flexible manufacturing of green personalized furniture Close To the Customer in time, space and cost

Final Report Summary - CTC (Local flexible manufacturing of green personalized furniture Close To the Customer in time, space and cost.)

Executive Summary:
The CTC project aims at proposing an innovative business model that supports the configuration, production and delivery of furniture products manufactured in Europe, close to the customers in terms of aesthetics and functionalities, place of the factory and product cost.
In order to foster this concept, the project has developed and/or integrated all the systems and tools required to pass from the initial idea, to an actually working mini-factory located within its production context.
To do so, the project, starting from an initial RTD phase necessary to develop specific solutions paving the way for the consistent implementation of the CTC concept reached the final objective of being able to fully demonstrate concept feasibility by realizing a complete demonstration activity in the shopping mall of Paderno Dugnano. All the activities have been accomplished according to the timing and content described in the Description of Work.Following the WP related activiteis, the work cartried out within the project can be resumed as follows:
1-WP2-Design approach and tools for “design to manufacturing in one step”
The activities conducted under the WP2, were meant to define the CTC design solution supporting the design to manufacturing in one step. Under this work package, a detailed definition of the process supporting the design activity at basic design and configuration side, and the data flow supporting the process of design to manufacturing in one step has been proposed. Eventually, the constraints relating the design and manufacturing process affecting product design, and type of products the CTC design tools has to rely on, has been proposed.
Starting from an high-level definition of the software architecture designed to handle the automatic furniture production, the communication interfaces exposed by each single component that are relevant to the aim of integration have been then analysed. Among the data models underlying the final solution, the Gateway component data model has been identified as the central shared one, due to the fact that Gateway acts as the orchestrator of the whole architecture, supervising the main operational processes.
Eventually the design and implementation of the tools supporting the design to manufacturing in one step has been carried on. A basic design tool supporting the definition of parametric furniture libraries is in phase of implementation. The tool, relying on a Topsolid basic design platform, is meant to enable the generation of product libraries encompassing rules and constraints required by the product configurator to generate a customized product. In parallel, the furniture configurator has been designed and developed, this supporting the definition of a furniture customized product on the base of the aforementioned product libraries. The configurator, running on a tablet that will be used by the customer assisted by the shop operator, enables the customization of product dimensions, style, material and color. Further product customization as generation of freeform shapes or introduction of images and pictures on the panels will be also possible by means of the intervention of the shop assistant. Eventually the last step of the transition from design to manufacturing has been defined by implementing a post processor able to directly generate manufacturing programs, directly executable by the CTC working centre has been developed. Particular attention has been given in the automation of the whole process that will not require any external intervention in the data flow from product configurator to CTC machine working centre.
2-WP3-Mini-factory Production System Model
Under this work package, the main activities supporting the definition of the CTC supply chain and production system model have been developed. The activities carried out under this WP led to the identification of few tools required to bridge the gap among the actual production concept and the integrated one defined by the CTC reference framework. To this end, 5 tools, namely Supply chain manager, Scheduler, Inventory manger, Waste manager and CTC shop manager able to manage the CTC related production system have been defined and designed. From this five tools that have been identified at RF level, two software tools, encompassing all the aforementioned tasks have been identified: ERPnext, covering Supply chain manager, Inventory manger, Waste manager and CTC shop manager and Frepple, covering scheduling activity.
In parallel to the activities addressing the management of the production system, the definition of the main constitutive elements of the CTC supply chain model has been carried out. Eventually the possible layouts of the minifactory has been defined, these considering the necessity to be scalable according with the different possible CTC miny-factory implementations.
3-WP4-CTC woodwork machining system
The activities carried out under WP4 are meant to support the definition, design and implementation of a woodworking centre able to perform all the activities required to enable the CTC production concept. To this end, the first results of this activities enabled to highlight the CTC production requirements and constraints that eventually led to the identification of a possible configuration of the CTC woodworking centre. The working centre, defined according with the manufacturing objectives defined as by description of work will be equipped by an anthropomorphic robot working as loading/unloading system able to automatically manage panels stock, and panels introduction within the working centre. The working area has been designed as being able to support cutting, boring and tooling of pieces up to a minimal panel dimension of 400 X 200 mm. The working centre has also been designed in order to be equipped with an automatic edge-banding system required to finish the panels.
4-WP5 - CTC Green Label
The activities carried out under this work package deal with the development of the CTC Green label that will be based on the concept of Product Footprint and the related Life Cycle Analysis / Assessment method. Considering that there is no single methodology on Life Cycle Assessment of products and of company performances, the first activity of this task was to identify the furniture eco-labels and evaluate them on their appropriateness for CTC objectives. After this first evaluation it was possible to identify which of the existing PCR can be the basis for the development of the CTC LCA study, to be implemented when the reference CTC product will be definitively defined. In parallel to these activities was developed an assessment model and the related assessment tool supporting the calculation of the impact of a CTC minifactory manufactured product, this being able to deliver information to customers about the environmental impact of the products under different KPIs.
5-WP6 - “Context Aware” mini-factory implementation
In order to properly manage this activity, WP6 started with the definition of a set of KPIs required to test the tools developed under each RTD WP. To this end, starting from the identification of each processes and the associated variables on which the decision makers can act to reach their objectives, a list of 31 KPIs referred to the objectives and variables has been identified. In parallel to this activity, the validation of RTD related Work Packages has been carried out, this considering:
WP2: validation of self standing solutions for design to manufacturing in one step (configurator, basic design tool, postprocessor)
WP3: configuration of the ERP tool on the requirements of the ctc mini-factory; trial tests of the CTC scheduler; first contacts with suppliers required by the CTC mini-factory in order to validate supply chain model.
WP4: integration between robotic arm and woodworking machinery, tests of communication among configuration tools and machine software.
WP5: Identification of a Green Label standard compatible with CTC requirements and Identification and LCA characterization of a simple test product to be compared with the one manufactured within the CTC minifactory. Validation of the KPIs supporting the CTC assessment tool, gathering of data from SCM machine to feed the assessment model.
WP6: the actual demonstration phase, taking into consideration the instantiation of the CTC mini-factory in a real environment, took place at Centro Brianza in Paderno Dugnano where for 10 Days customers had the possibility to try CTC products configuration, see the manufacturing system and receive their customized product.
WP7 - Dissemination, Exploitation and result transfer to other sectors
During the project different actions have been carried on in order to disseminate project activities to general public and specific target groups. Worth of mention is the creation of the CTC web site ( and a section dedicated to it in the MCKN portal ( Two web pages, one on Facebook and one on Linkedin have been created in order to post and disseminate activities carried out within the prjoject. Moreover 5 papers and two poster sessions describing CTC activities have been performed. Brochures and pamphlet have been edited to support project dissemination while publications on relevant journals have been edited. Eventually the consortium participated to few fairs and events where the project has been presented (Idea, Xylexpo, etc).
At exploitation level 9 exploitable results have been identified and characterized. On the other end in order to analyse the exploitation of the CTC mini-factory as an integrated system three business plans have been developed, respectively for a general case, an instantiation in Ireland and one in Switzerland.

Project Context and Objectives:
The CTC project aims at supporting European Industry to adapt to global competitive pressures by developing methods and innovative enabling technologies towards local flexible manufacturing of green personalized products close to the customer in terms of features offered, place of fabrication, time to deliver, and cost.
CTC vision of local flexible manufacturing of green personalized furniture is to be implemented by the development of 5 pillars:
1) Development of a Formalized Design Approach (and related software technologies) to empower “design to manufacturing in one step” (which must also take into consideration the design finalization carried out by the customer himself). The development of a formalized furniture design approach refers to the tools and engineering methods to make the design seamlessly compatible with the manufacturing phase (fostering a design approach standardization), and must not be mistaken for the imposition of a common design style: distinctiveness of styles must be preserved as a key added value.
2) Development of a standardized mini-factory Production System Model that can be easily and quickly instantiated in local green factories, and whose processes and machines can be driven directly by the finalized design mentioned in the first Pillar. This model represents the factory “to be” blueprints, its logistic structure and short JIT supply chain management approach. It can be regarded as the basis for the “factory franchising” concept, where the manufacturing system can be instantiated locally with minimal production design effort. Within the furniture sector, the demonstration will focus on base-design, personalization and production of bedrooms and living rooms.
3) Implementation of the local “Context Aware” Factory (which is the instantiation of the “Production System Model” afore mentioned in the second Pillar), with short supply chain and sales in the factory of sustainable personalized furniture (the green small factory is ideally behind a glass pane directly in the shopping mall, with elimination of the downstream Supply Chain).This product (whose basic design and customization options are defined thanks to the approach and tools developed in the first Pillar) is finalized thanks to the interaction with the customer that happens at the sales point. The “Context Aware” Factory is an instance of the “Production System Model”, meaning that the factory is built according to blueprints, production management approaches and technologies specified in the second Pillar.
4) Development of the CTC woodwork machining system, able to empower the “Close to the Customer” concept by new flexible and sustainable manufacturing capability. Main target is the development of a next generation woodworking system with high flexibility, high safety standards and ease of use (diverse locations point to heterogeneous operator skills) with low production cost and low environmental impact, in particular for very small batches and JIT production, ultimately delivering very quickly to the customer. The system will be usable by a single worker empowered by advanced HMI control and automatic machine set-up for different production batches, and will then run continuously as in flow-like production. As the factory is meant to be instantiated “close to the customer”, the machining system must specifically tackle issues such as dust extraction and noise control.
5) Development of the CTC Green Label, in order to bring to customer awareness of the uniqueness and advantages of the production process, based on ISO 14955 extension to woodworking machines and on the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certificate label. This activity will be producing consistent knowledge to support the EC strategy on Product Footprint . The label, also taking advantage of the development of a proper assessment model, is meant to be recognizable and unified, but still articulated and capable of highlighting local peculiarity.
Expected benefits from the CTC project will have a huge impact on the European economy, considering the high number of actors involved in the furniture sector, as previously mentioned. The creation of a “franchising network” for local personalized furniture production will reshape the traditional supply chain and will lead to benefits both in economic terms, and also from a sustainability point of view. Indeed, the CTC project will contribute to the achievement of best in class performance making available advanced design and production technologies that also support a considerable improvement of woodworking operations from a green impact perspective. The CTC impact is also guaranteed by the influence and relevance of the project actors such as SCM (with more than 200.000 machining systems installed worldwide) and Missler Software (with 15.000 TopSolid woodwork software installations).

Project Results:
The CTC project has been structured under six mutually integrating WPs defined with the intent of developing a new concept of furniture manufacturing system, this enabling customers to configure and see realized their products directly within the shopping mall. As output of each of the aforementioned WPs, scientific and technological results have been reached, eventually integrated within project demonstration. In the following section, the main results of each WP are highlighted.

The first Pillar was meant to define the software technologies able to support the concept of “design to manufacturing in one step”, this considering a seamless integration between the design and manufacturing phase. To this end, the building blocks of the reference framework consider the tools enabling products design, and those supporting the information flow required to generate machines’ data for manufacturing.
The definition of the product concept is fostered by two main drivers, the first one supporting designers during the basic design phase, the second one guiding CTC shop assistants in the configuration of customers’ driven products. In order to define the product portfolio available in the CTC shop, the designer has to be supported by a BASIC DESIGN TOOL, able to integrate the logics at the base of the CTC production, already in the design phase. This tool, being developed on the basis of a CAD software has to drive the designer in the definition of the product portfolio setting all the constraints imposed by the production capabilities of the CTC manufacturing system, but also considering design requirements arising from the local instantiation of the Mini-Factory.
The definition of a product portfolio compatible with the CTC constraints enables the second step of the CTC design process, namely customer’s product configuration. By accessing a database wherein product portfolios developed by designers are stored, the product CONFIGURATOR supports the CTC shop assistant in designing in collaboration with the customer his/her customized products. The configurator, empowered by the CTC design rules, is meant to support the design of a product based on the portfolios introduced in the CTC local shop and customized according with customer’s preference.
The process of product configuration enables the second step of the Formalized Design approach process, this including the generation of all the information required for production scheduling on one side, and those for the actual product manufacturing on the other. Product order and design details generated by the configurator have to be utterly processed in order to optimize pieces production sequence, and process the auxiliary information required to drive the handling system and warehouse. This activity, together with few other inputs required by the manufacturing system to enable the beginning of production, is processed by the POST-PROCESSOR.
Starting from Missler’s Topsolid Basic Desing tool, the designer can develop the product libraries that will be used by the configurator in order to generate the customized furniture. The tool enables to design from scratch the pieces of furniture and set the parameters necessary to transform a normal designed product, in a parametric object that can be customized in terms of shape, dimensions, colour, materials, etc.
Once generated the basic product design, the designer has also to define the interface that will be showed to the customer for the configuration of the product. To this end, during the project the so called “Xml generator” has been defined, a tool that helps the designer in creating a simple, tactile interface for the customer.
The Xml Generator Retrieves information from the basic design tool and allows the designer to generate tablet user interface by (i) giving access to custom parameters,(ii) introduce descriptions of the furniture layout ,(iii) introduce the allowed accessories, colours and materials that the customer can select.
With the use of the Xml generator, the designer prepares the interface to be used in the configurator that in the CTC project has been defined “Touch planner”.
Eventually The Touch Planner is an easy to use application that runs on Windows based tablets and that enables the configuration of products. By means of this application, the customer by himself, pr supported by the shop assistant is able to configure his own furniture.
The application runs on a tablet interface, but is directly connected with the Topsolid product configurator: in this way, the customer can easily manage the parameters of the furniture by acting on the tablet and then he can see a rendering on the furniture on the main screen. The configuration platform has been divided in two devices (tablet+desktop) for two reasons: in first instance, it allows the customer to have a greater view of the product he is configuring; in second instance, it enables to work on the configuration directly with the desktop computer, so to be able to manage complex personalization features.
As conclusion of this paragraph, we want to highlight that the range of customization/personalization features that can be offered is strongly dependent by the supply chain that can be set-up in the area the mini-factory is installed. All the options that are associated with each product depend by the suppliers that can be found in the area. To this end, the features that have been proposed both in the configuration and personalization section have to be shaped on it. In the CTC product, the boundaries for configuration/personalization capabilities have been set in technical terms. Is duty of the mini-factory owner to decide to which extent set up contracts with suppliers, thus increasing the level of customization offered.

Pillar II- Mini-factory Production System Model
The modules that have been defined at Pillar II level were meant to lay the basis for the development of a standardized mini-factory Production System Model that can be easily and quickly instantiated in local green factories, and whose processes and machines can be driven directly by the finalized design mentioned in Pillar I. To this end, the design tools developed in Pillar I had to be complemented by a bundle of software tools modelling and coordinating the logics behind the CTC production concept, these representing the factory “to be” blueprints, its logistic structure and the short supply chain management approach.
In order to enable this transition, the production schedule within the factory has to be coherently computed according with the peculiarities of the CTC factory at production system, supply chain and inventory level. The PRODUCTION SCHEDULER, taking inputs at different factory levels, is thus able to generate a production schedule taking into account the received orders, the rules at the base of CTC production model, the Mini Factory production capacity, inventory status and supply chain constraints.
As already mentioned, the general view on the factory status required to give the scheduler the actual state of the factory in terms of material flow, machining operations and warehouse is obtained by the support of two modules the INVENTORY MANAGER and the SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGER.
The inventory manager takes care of decisions related to the inventories managing data related to the available space at inventory level, the production requirements and the constraints generated by supplier’s relations. By elaborating these data, the module is thus able to define a reorder plan to be followed by the supply chain manager. This last module, managing all the information related with suppliers selection, outsourcing fabrications and couriers management is thus able to generate reorders and suppliers due dates. In order for the CTC-factory to work as a real commercial entity, an additional module is needed even if its presence was not introduced in any Pillar and its development do not pertain specifically to the RTD activities initially envisioned. This module, named CTC SHOP MANAGER, is in charge of addressing those business management activities required to actually close the whole CTC production process. In particular, this module, retrieving data from the CTC configurator, production scheduler and Mini-Factory Supervisor, is meant to manage administration, resources, claims and invoicing.
Eventually, in order to enable the transfer of data among the different modules, a transversal sw layer able to manage and dispatch data coming from the single applications and enable a fully automated and smooth flow of the information have been also conceived: the GATEWAY.
At practical level, the production system model has been instantiated by using two already available software tools, Frepple and ERPNext, respectively carrying out production scheduling and encompassing the three modules of Inventory, Supply Chain and CTC shop manager.
The whole production system, to be complete, takes into account the Configurator, the machine tool software and the sustainability assessment engine. As already mentioned, all the tools are connected by means of the Gateway that is the CTC developed integration software module that manages the order processing within the mini-factory from the order acquisition to the delivery, ensuring the correct configuration of the IT infrastructure and the seamless communication among Configurator, ERP, Machine Tool Software, Scheduling System and Assessment Engine.
If we consider the production system flow, from customer access to the shop, to the manufacturing of the order, the information flow that passes through the CTC mini factory considers the following interactions among the software tools :
1. Configurator and Gateway
The Gateway provides the configurator with the functions to store customer data and create new production orders. Once the product is configured, it receives a BOM containing the configured element, composed of x parts, with hardware and edges. For each part to be manufactured the Gateway receives also the scripting files defining the machining operations of each part and eventually returns to the configurator the expected delivery date, calculated according with the already present manufacturing queue and the time necessary to manufacture the furniture. In parallel, the Gateway delivery the calculated price (updated at each iteration during product configuration) and the environmental impact calculated for the configured product.
2. Gateway and Working Centre SW
Once finalized an order, the PGMX files required to manufacture the product are generated and dispatched to the Machine tool SW. The files are thus used to nest the programs. This operation is intended to enable the minimization of the scrap rate and understand the raw material to be communicated to the ERP for raw materials order. Through the connection with the Maestro SW, the overall manufacturing time required to bore, mill, cut and edgeband all sheets is eventually calculated and used to calculate the precise delivery date as described in the previous section.
3. Gateway and ERP
The customers’ data acquired through the configurator are passed by the gateway to the ERP that stores them and begins the creation of the sales order to which the final BOM will be attached. Ones launched the order, the production order is contextually prepared, linked to the previous sales order. A Buying order for the raw material composing the product is eventually generated.
4. Gateway and Frepple
The connection with the scheduler (Frepple) enables to generate and store the tasks required to manufacture the defined furniture. Considering the estimated raw material arrival date and the expected manufacturing time, the scheduler is able to define a production queue, thus retrieving the expected manufacturing date that is eventually delivered to the customer.
5. Gateway and Assessment Engine
The last iteration is carried out in order to generate the impact data relative to the manufacturing of the configured furniture. In order to do so, the Gateway communicates to the assessment engine the data related to material of the parts, material of hardware and edges, operations performed on parts and environmental indicators of the material suppliers. The impact data are thus used for the generation of the CTC label that is attached to the manufactured product, this stating production impact and comparison with a “normal” product.

Pillar IV- CTC woodwork machining system
In order to pursue the main target of the CTC manufacturing system, this considering the development of a next generation woodworking system with high flexibility, high safety standards and ease of use, 4 modules addressing machines for product manufacturing, software for machinery integration and operator support, and the material handling have been conceived. Considering the CTC factory business model and, in particular, those aspects related with the use of very low trained operators, the machinery systems have to be supported by an intuitive and effective ADVANCED HMI system able to support the operator during all the machine related operations, namely all the instructions to be executed on the systems, particularly in out-of-nominal operations such as maintenance cycle or similar. In order to manage the material required to produce the CTC furniture, two main elements are required: the first one, the INBOUND WAREHOUSE, has to store the panels ready to be machined, operating, without operator intervention, the automatic displacement of material considering material requirements deriving from scheduling information. It will be constituted by two separate (both functionally and physically) subsystems: the first one devoted to host wood panels, the second one, for all other components needed at the assembly stage (for example, ironware and handles). The last step before being able to machine the pieces is to enable their automatic displacement within the machine. To this end, a dedicated module - AUTOMATIC MATERIAL HANDLING system - has been designed, this being able of handling the raw materials both entering and going out from the working machine without the assistance of an operator.
The manufacturing of pieces is eventually done by a single machine able to automatically handle, route, bore, cut and edge band the panels. The machine, represented in the CTC Reference Framework by the dedicated MINI-FACTORY WOODWORKING MACHINE module takes information inputs by the Mini-factory supervisor, this providing machine code, machine set-up and the elements’ sequence required.
The development of the aforementioned modules started from the analysis of the state of the art solution: nowadays, the manufacturing tasks realized by CTC are generally performed by different machines, each one able to do a single operation, such as cutting, routing, drilling or edge-banding with great problems related to wood panels handling in terms of time, space and constraints, after the single operations, and so, as a consequence, with a great commitment in terms of required operators.
On the other hand, the context for the instantiation of the mini-factory is not an industrial context, but a commercial one characterized by inadequate electric power available, total absence of compressed air system or dust extraction devices or devices for noise abatement; moreover a mall is normally frequented by common person, families with children not aware of dangerous and so with high risks for safety.
Keeping in mind all these constraints and with the clear objective of perform the CTC production concept, it has been developed an innovative CTC working centre, defined according with the manufacturing objectives, equipped by an anthropomorphic robot working as loading/unloading system, able to automatically manage panels stock, and panels introduction within the working centre. The working area has been designed as being able to support cutting, nesting, boring, routing and tooling of pieces up to a minimal panel dimension of 400 X 200 mm. The working centre has also been designed in order to be equipped with an automatic edge-banding system required to finish the panels, in alternative way respect to painting.
The CTC working centre is characterized by the presence in the same mechanical platform of several devices that provide great innovation compared to the machines of the main competitors on the market.
The most interesting element is surely the “smart worktable” that gives the possibility to perform on the same platform, nesting and edge-banding operations, without unloading each single panel obtained after nesting operation;. In fact, on the bars worktable, thanks to a pop-up system and so, thanks to the possibility to move in a vertical way each single vacuum cup, the work plan has acquired the third dimension in the space, opening the doors towards a new approach to the nesting and edge banding of pieces in a single and compact system.
Engineering innovation has involved not only mechanical design of the device, but also the correct implementation of its on-board management software, to define the right order for vacuum cups movements in function of pieces to be produced, reaching the goal of performing rectangular and free-form nesting.
An automatic unloading device of finished panels with vacuum cups and conveyor mat has been developed in order to have a valid alternative to panels unloading operations performed by the robotic arm.
This particular solution increases the flexibility in batch 1 size furniture production and the productivity of the whole system, since the machine can unload a finished pieces without use the robotic arm that in the meanwhile can optimize the raw panels stack management.
Thanks to CTC project, a great impulse was given to the development of innovative systems for safety on the machine; in particular a lot of activities have been carried out in terms of research and experimentation of alternative machine safety systems based on ultrasound technology.
At the same time, a new, special suction hood for CNC working centre has been developed, in particular useful and effective for not peripheral nesting operations, able to reduce noise and to increase the quantity of dust extracted.
In this way, the main innovative elements we have reached and introduced on CTC mini-factory model are resumed in the following list:
• High degree of flexibility for batch size 1 production
• Ability to produce furniture on customer’s demand
• High degree of automation thanks to machine-robot integration
• Integration in a single platform of multiple functions (nesting, boring, routing, edge-banding) that can be performed with just a single work program.
• High degree of automation for functioning under supervision of a lone worker; the operator approaches the machinery directly in proximity of un-loading system, only in order to withdraw the already worked and finished panels; in this condition it's not required a particularly skilled operator.
• High performance in terms of safety and dust extraction for installation in a not industrial context
• Reduced foot print area, thanks to a compact lay-out able to include machinery, loading/unloading system, tools and edges warehouses and panels’ stacks.

Pillar V - CTC Green Label
The CTC Green label for the mini-factory envisages the computation of a life-cycle assessment for the range of products considered by the specific instantiation of the mini-factory, in order to grant and demonstrate to customers the environmental sustainability of this new model of production based both on ISO 14955 extension to woodworking machines and on the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certificate label. The label, also taking advantage of the development of a proper assessment model, is meant to be recognizable and unified, but still articulated and capable of highlighting local peculiarity.
This important requirement of the mini-factory has been highlighted by introducing in the Reference-Framework a dedicated module – CTC GREEN LABEL- considering on one side, the computation of the LCA for products realized in the mini factory, on the other, the computation of environmental KPI to guide the improvement of production footprint. In order to do so, the CTC green label takes information both at design, manufacturing and waste management level, this allowing the computation of the aforementioned metrics.
The development carried out within the RTD phase of the project let to propose an automatic approach to the evaluation of the sustainability of its process that allows the establishment of a green label for its products by:
• Establishing a model of green label largely recognized and granting feasibility of implementation in an automatic way
• Defining a benchmark from the traditional furniture manufacturing sector, to highlight the benefits of having a sustainability analysis embedded in the customization procedure
• Implementing the sustainability computational model for the Mini-Factory production systems
• Creating the opportunity for the customer to easily evaluate the environmental impact of its personalization choices at purchasing stage
In order to reach the aforementioned objectives, an extensive analysis of the reference documents and label has been performed. A specific standardization scheme which fit with CTC purposes has been identified. Moreover, a comparative pilot study has been performed in order to assess specific environmental implications due to customization process for a furniture model. Such analysis emphasize a minimal contribution of the manufacturing process over the life cycle both for traditional and customized process. Major potential benefits has been identified in promoting an environmental assessment model for the Mini-Factory production systems which includes different material options. Such model can enable the consumer to be aware of the direct environmental implications due to his preferences.
The assessment model has been used as reference model for the computation through the assessment tool of the impact generate by the manufacturing of each furniture. The Assessment tool allows customer to be aware of the environmental impacts generated by the CTC personalized furniture and recognize the more sustainable configuration. This is performed through: An Assessment Model (AM), based on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology. Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) is performed through the CML2001 method, considering the identified indicators. An Assessment Engine (AE) that implement the AM and allows the calculation of the environmental indexes. After the product configuration, the AE exposes the calculation service to the Gateway as an API, using the common Data Model exploited within CTC. The full integration in the Gateway allows to rapidly gather the huge amount of data required by LCA, to quickly and automatically calculate reliable environmental indexes, to ease the data verification and the results certification, also by third parties.
Through the assessment tool is thus possible to obtain the evaluation of the configured product and not that of an “average” furniture and to calculate the impacts generated by the product manufactured in a specific instance of the CTC factory (e.g. located in a specific city with its specific supply chain) and not those of a generic one. Together with the visual impact data displaying on the configurator, a CTC Green Label card is provided with each product.

Potential Impact:
The CTC mini-factory is intended to be a promising solution contributing to the economic recovery of the European wooden furniture sector and stimulating the currently stagnating demand by means of the innovative production and sales approach. Thanks to the project results, the European sector will be strengthened and the fierce competition represented by the cheap labour cost countries will be mitigated relying on a wholly European solution. High quality jobs are created and local suppliers, typically SMEs, will experience a business strengthening. The huge improvement of both technology and performance expected out of the demonstration scenario is thus a stimulus for a sector-wide wave of development that looks beyond the borders of the mini-factory.

The CTC production concept allows a reduction of the time to market up to 80% of the average values of a traditional supply chain. This is one of the most significative impacts expected from the project achieved thanks to the combined effect of the following innovative elements: (1) the exploitation of state-of-the-art production technologies that minimize the setup times in a customized environment;
(2) the development of a fully integrated approach and software solution to generate machine-ready code for personalized products as they are designed; (3) the use of a short supply chain where production site and point of sale are in the same location and deliveries are local.

The product development can be as short as 1 hour and its cost is at least 40% less than the cost of a traditional design process of a customized product. The customer takes part to the process by using the
configurator whose design space is triggered by the “basic design” characterizing the CTC furniture style. The customized and finalized design is processed by the CTC “design to manufacturing” tool that
produces all the data needed for a continuous flow production of the personalized furniture.

The reduction of the environmental impact is a leading principle driving the conceptualization of the the CTC mini-factory. Main generated impacts compared to a traditional factory are:(1) reduction of wastes due a more performing technology that eliminates setups and allows to produce on order (no unsold items, no obsolescent inventory, green technologies) (2) local supply, production and delivery: emissions
due to transportation are reduced.

The Mini-Factory is a “context aware” instance of the “Production System Model” developed by the project. The factory model is replicated in different location starting from the CTC plant design that is
adapted to the local context. The attention paid within the project towards the design of a smart layout makes these adaptations limited in both time and cost. A huge reduction of the order of 60% of
both set-up and ramp-up time can be reached.

The objective of the dissemination activities has been to ensure that relevant target groups and end users were informed about the project’s outputs and to build the base for the exploitation of the project results. To this end, the dissemination activities included: promotional material, publications, project website(s), social networks, dissemination events such as conferences, workshops and commercial fairs, including some less traditional dissemination channels such as face to face meetings and briefings as an effective way of reaching the relevant stakeholders.
During project duration, 4 brochures have been delivered with the goal to mainly communicate briefly and effectively the objectives of the project and to provide information about the partnership/consortium. The target for the brochure are people present at European, National and Local conferences, workshops and meetings. The brochures have been prepared in different moments of the project and their content has become more and more specific, as project results were collected.
The main topics treated within the brochures can be summarized as follows:
1. First Brochure: the CTC concept and the expected results;
2. Second/third brochure: Objectives, expected results and the reference framework;
3. Fourth project brochure: achieved results and demonstration
In order to update both the consortium and interest groups on the activities carried out within the project, 4 newsletter have been edited, each one with a specific topic and dedicated target: the first two newsletters have been of general purpose and have been used to describe project activities and results. The Third newsletter was dedicated to an industrial audience and the main topics treated have been the exploitable results of the project. The last newsletter focused mainly on the activities and results of the demonstration phase.
During the project two short videos have been edited: the first one has been realized by SUPSI with a stop-motion technique and LEGO characters. In a later stage of the project, during the demonstration in Paderno Dugnano, another video has been edited by SCM, this time showing the actual concept of CTC with the real mini-factory working. The video shows a couple that decides to buy a new cabinet for their childs’ room, so they go the the shopping mall, configure one cabinet, and while are spending their time in the shopping mall, the cabinet is manufactured.

Publication on relevant journals
As recommended by EU, CTC has been presented on the open access journal “International INNOVATION”. International Innovation is an online Journal dedicated to innovation activities within EU. The journal reaches 120.000 global contacts, 5000 of them in the Research and Leaders community. Each year it hosts more than 3000 projects. CTC has been hosted with a general description of the project and with an interview to Andrea Barni, scientific coordinator of the project.

Another publication has been edited on the Italina journal “Innovare” with an article describing project activities from the idea generation to the demonstration phase.
Public webpages
A specific project portal has been created and is online at online starting from 01/07/2013. This page gives general information about the project and hosts the private section dedicated to the consortium where all the material to be shared among partners is stored. Moreover a dissemination page is also hosted by the MCKN portal where information can be retrieved about project, partnership and results ( The main goal of the portal is to disseminate information on the project objectives and on the status of the developing activities both inside the consortium and outside the consortium. The portal is made of several sections containing the description of project main objectives, the project concept and the rationale behind it, the list of the consortium partners and a blog-section with the updates on the ongoing activities. In the following pictures a screenshot of the two pages is presented.
Social network profile
A profile on the social network Facebook has been used to push the dissemination of project activities, in particular during the demonstration phase. These communication channels represent an important way to be in touch with the relevant target community. The project team has used these channels collectively by promoting the content and creating awareness, i.e. recommending them to members of their social networks.
Dissemination events
Few presentations of the project were organized during the international, regional, national, events targeting different stakeholders. Hereunder, the main dissemination events are reported:
• Presentation through Innovawood contact network: by means of IW contacts network CTC has been presented in 21 events across Europe, these considering IW general assemblies, dedicated furniture events and workshops;
• MADE 4 DIY Forum (2th November 2015): CTC has been presented at the National Forum on DIY, Home Improvement and Gardening, a symposium part of the FEDIMA European Association where an audience of 70 people from the DIY retail world was present;
• IDEA exposition: CTC has been presented in a dedicate session during the IDEA exposition, an Italian fair dedicated to furniture manufacturing;
• World Manufacturing forum 2016: during the WMF CTC has been presented up to 60 persons, by also distributing dissemination material related to the project.
• XileXPO25th Biennial world exhibition for woodworking technology and components for the furniture industry: from 24 to 28 May 2016 CTC has been hosted in the SCM area of the exhibition and contacts have been taken with many operators of the furniture sector.


The main objective of this activity was to define a proper exploitation strategy for the CTC Mini-factory. The exploitation foreseen for the CTC miniFactory has indeed a twofold approach: on one side, the project results coming as output from each single RTD activity will be exploited singularly by technology providers. On the other side the integrated activities of the minifactory will be exploited as minifactory as a whole.
In this activity, first of all a Roadmap for the Exploitation Plan has been created investigating which could be the proper exploitation channels and exploitation tools thanks to a SOTA on exploitation plans within EU research projects.
As far as individual exploitation plans are concerned, main project outcomes have been listed and referred to each Partner, thus showing both impacts and benefits of the project on future tasks. The following list reports the exploitable results obtained during the project:
- Basic Design (Pillar I): Design rules (furniture styles);
- Configurator (Pillar I): Software for product customization (software)
- Post processor (Pillar I): Software for translate design into production activity
- Supply chain approach (Pillar II): Relationship, logic for agile and sustainable local supply chain
- Franchising (Pillar II): Business model for CTC Mini-factory network
- Context aware factory instantiation (Pillar III): Rules to adapt the production system model in a local context
- Context aware factory supervisor (Pillar III): Rules to manage all the criticalities related to local Mini factor management
- Woodworking machine system (Pillar IV): Machinery involved in CTC production system
- Green Label (Pillar V): Sector specific environmental label based on LCA and harmonization of existing green standards
Each of the aforementioned results has been detailed and analyzed under different aspects in two separated stages: in the first one, for each of the project outcomes, a table defining the main characteristics of each result have been defined, this in particular considering the following aspects: detailed description of the result, definition of the result owner, identification of the value proposition, definition of the type of asset(s), analysis of possible IPR/license protection, definition of system actors, analysis of repeatability in other sectors and the expected actions required to carry out the exploitation of the result.
As a second stage, each result has been analyzed also from a business model (BM) point of view by defining a document where the main aspects of the business modelling has been defined.

In parallel to the analysis of single project results, Business plans related to the exploitation of the whole CTC concept have been realized, these considering the instantiation of the mono factory at three levels:
1. Instantiation of the CTC minifactory in the Milan area, as representation of the DEMO conditions;
2. Instantiation of the CTC minifactory in the Lugano area, as output of the involvement of Veragouth SA;
3. Instantiation of the CTC minifactory in the Dublin area, as output of the involvement of McNally.
The developed business plans demonstrated, at different levels and with different results the feasibility of the economic feasibility of the CTC concept.

List of Websites: