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Decentralised Agile Coordination Across Supply Chains

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - DIGICOR (Decentralised Agile Coordination Across Supply Chains)

Reporting period: 2018-04-01 to 2019-09-30

To keep competitive, manufacturing seeks competitive advantage through quality, agility and personalisation based on advances in IT. In order to increase production performance for highly customized products, mastering the complexity of the supply chain and logistics in global production networks is of the essence. Ad-hoc collaboration with a wide spectrum of suppliers and service providers is necessary to answer the wishes of customers for individual products in short time, high quality, and at affordable cost.
DIGICOR addresses the need for a collaboration platform, tools, and services for the setup and coordination of production networks and the integration of small, yet innovative companies (SMEs) into the supply chain of large manufacturers. The DIGICOR solution is based on an open ICT platform integrating tools and services for collaboration in production networks, with case specific governance rules. It provides services for finding collaboration partners, for managing the collaborative production process and for risk management. It is open to third parties to add services for other applications such as advanced analytics. The DIGICOR project has also developed business models for operating and maintaining the platform and has demonstrated its solution in three industrial use cases.
Work in the DIGICOR project covered the full range from understanding user’s requirements, building the platform, and engaging the community, to enabling sustainability beyond the end of the project.
The Requirements & Business Models work package focused on understanding the problem and the needs of end-users. Current practices in supply chain collaboration were analyzed to identify the process and technology gaps to be filled. End-user requirements were gathered from inside and outside the consortium. Service concepts and business models for the platform and individual services were developed, with multiple operating scenarios modelled in detail.
The Community, Use Cases & Continuous Validation work package connected with the internal community of industrial cluster members and with external developers and potential users, involving them continuously in meetings throughout the project. Internal and external use cases were identified and feedback on the DIGICOR approach was collected in discussions, and the integration of a tool provided by an external partner was organized.
In the Architecture & System Specification work package, functional and performance requirements on the DIGICOR tools and platform were derived and the technical specification of the platform architecture was prepared. Based on this, the Middleware & Supportive Tools work package implemented the cloud platform core infrastructure and management interfaces, considering input from the Tools work package, which implemented a base set of business services. This was done in an iterative process with multiple software releases. In the Governance & Knowledge Protection work package, governance rules were formalized and implemented to support policy enforcement in the platform.
In the Validation & Demonstration work package, the DIGICOR platform was evaluated against requirements and end-user expectations based on trial and demonstration results. Following a trials plan with test procedures, a test campaign was performed and demonstration workshops with end-users were held in Germany and the UK. In an extensive simulation study of the aerospace use case, the operational and economic benefits of the platform were assessed.
The Exploitation & Dissemination work package prepared the groundwork for long-term impact of the project results by establishing suitable channels. Standardization aspects were considered and the exploitation strategy for the way ahead after the end of the project was defined.
For all this, the Project Management work package provided process and infrastructure support.

The main project results are:
• A digital collaboration platform including services and tools for call-for-tenders creation, collaboration team creation, and collaboration management, with governance definition and enforcement
• Services for connecting shop floor real-time data sources to the platform, and tools using these for monitoring the status of collaborative production, for asset monitoring and production planning
• Governance rules and procedures for collaboration and knowledge protection models embedded in the platform
• Business models for operating the platform

The project results were disseminated to the public at large via the DIGICOR website, newsletters and social media; across the scientific community through almost two dozen publications; via workshops to the DIGICOR community that was established; and also through direct involvement with relevant stakeholders and initiatives on the European level such as EFFRA.
Exploitation of the DIGICOR platform is planned in the aerospace domain, with the Hanse Aerospace association providing the DIGICOR platform to their members; also, selected tools and services are planned to be exploited as part of the Sematronix SMECluster. The industrial partners have developed individual exploitation activities. The integration of DIGICOR in the eFactory initiative opens up further venues for innovation based on the project results.
DIGICOR went beyond the state of the art in:
• Providing a new level of support in the contract negotiation and establishment process for virtual logistics and manufacturing networks through agent-based and semantic web based risk management, evaluation, and recommendation tools
• Creating an infrastructure for operating such networks, connecting information systems of supply chain members over one platform, with dynamic access to shop-floor data over OPC UA, enabling a real-time view on factory operations and new possibilities for optimization
• Providing an easy-to-use system for defining access rights of collaborators to selected data with a semantic-based authentication/authorization approach

Based on industrial use cases, the following project results have been demonstrated:
• Collaboration platform with tools and services for ad-hoc network setup (marketplace), planning, rescheduling and analytics
• Ad-hoc integration of shop floor data sources for operations monitoring with multiple suppliers
• One reference greenfield platform implementation and one reference implementation extending an existing platform architecture

The potential impacts of the DIGICOR results are:
• Improving efficiency in establishing contracts between one or more partners: Enhancement of existing contracting tools for tendering and technological support for establishing multi-party consortia for complex production demands.
• Transparent context aware production: Secure B2B communication channels will enable stakeholders to observe production and logistics processes of their peers and to better evaluate risks, harmonize and optimize production. Dynamic integration of data from the shop floor enables early problem identification and increases collaboration dynamics.
• Major new market opportunities: Third parties can deploy the platform in order to host collaboration and optimization tools, or they can provide their own solutions as tools that can plug into a platform instance, free to define their pricing strategy. The platform will thus form an ecosystem for collaboration within supply chains and between manufacturing and service companies.