Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Final Report Summary - E-CUSTOM (A Web-based Collaboration System for Mass Customization)



Executive Summary:

“Unique Products for Unique Customers”

Mass production no longer seems suitable for today’s market and is being replaced by mass customisation. The need for satisfying the individual customer’s requirements is now stronger than ever. Customers require that the product they buy fulfils their personal requirements in an individualised manner. New technologies can now make it possible to prepare unique designs of products, manufacture these products and communicate on a mass basis.

The first objective of the proposed research is to engage customers in the design and development of personalised products from the initial product design phase up to the after-market segment. A web-based system can now tailor information or products to the customer. Specifically, potential customers will be given the opportunity to modify a set of characteristics, including the choice of materials as well as the modification of the standard geometry and appearance specifications of parts belonging to a carefully chosen, personalisation-enabling, series of components of different models and variants.

The second main objective is to reach an efficient level of decentralised manufacturing. The project aims to develop tools that will support the manufacturing and/or assembly of selected parts outside the central manufacturing site. Depending on the selected customisation options certain manufacturing processes will be possible to be carried out by the material/parts suppliers or by the local distributors and/or service providers in a coordinated manner.

Additionally, as a third objective the project aims to measure the environmental footprint of the possible solutions in order to be considered when deciding on the most appropriate manufacturing solution (where, how, who and when). In order to facilitate this process, the final objective is the multi-layer data exchange infrastructure that ensures the interoperability between all users.

The e-CUSTOM project was evaluated together with 98 other FP7 FoF research projects and was selected as one of the two Success Stories of the overall research framework (http://ec.europa.eu/research/industrial_technologies/events-fp7-draft-programme-2010_en.html)

Project Context and Objectives:

e-CUSTOM aims to bridge the gap between mass production and mass customization, engaging the customer in the initial design of the products and realizing the manufacturing of these personalized added-value products in a novel, coordinated, eco-friendly and efficient decentralized approach.

Goals:

Mass production does no longer seem suitable for today’s market and is being replaced by mass customisation. The need for satisfying an individual customer’s requirements is now stronger than ever before. Customers require that the product they buy fulfil their personal requirements in an individualized manner. The e-CUSTOM project aims to overcome the challenges that the European manufacturers are faced with, by developing innovative approaches, which can now make it possible to prepare unique product designs, manufacture these products and communicate them on a mass basis. The innovative approach of the e-CUSTOM will support the higher alignment of production with the actual customer demand, while shortening the design time for personalized products by up to 15%.

The e-CUSTOM consortium contains an excellent combination of partners coming from industry, research institutes and universities, with excellent expertise in the execution of RTD projects and strong commitment to cooperation, in order to deliver to the European manufacturing companies the best possible project results.

Pylons:

Towards materialising the ambitious concept of e-CUSTOM, the partners accomplished a set of scientific and technical objectives, classified in accordance to the four Pylons of the project:

- Pylon I: User Adaptive Design System (UADS). The objectives under this Pylon focused on the development of user friendly design tools that allow the customers to perform unique design changes in their order, in a controlled way.

- Pylon II: Decentralized Manufacturing Framework (DEMAP). This set of technological objectives is based on the materialization of the decentralized production concept that e-CUSTOM promotes. Following the design of the highly customized products from Pylon I, the required supply and manufacturing schemes for its production are generated and verified by the developments of Pylon II.

- Pylon III: Environmental Assessment Module. The environmental impact of the supply / manufacturing schemes that are generated in Pylon II is among the most critical parameters for the selection of the most appropriate ones. e-CUSTOM developed the required tools and metrics for the evaluation of the alternative schemes. These tools are supplemented by advanced Knowledge Management techniques so that the generated knowledge can be systematically re-used in future projects.

- Pylon IV: Network Infrastructure and Integration. To successfully implement the e-CUSTOM decentralized manufacturing concept, the objectives under Pylon IV, focused on creating the required infrastructures in terms of network and ICT technologies for the standardization of data exchange, the synchronous and asynchronous cooperation and communication among individuals and user groups, the efficient administration of personalised data files, the automated generation of supplying schemes and the evaluation of alternative ones.

Expected Impact

These innovations have already been deployed at the end-user and is it estimated that in the long term will offer a reduction to energy consumption by approximately 5%-10%, transportation costs by up to 20%, cost of raw materials by roughly 5%-10% , time-to-market by up to 15% and delivery time by approximately 15%-20%, thus resulting in increasing the market share by up to 10%.

Innovation

e-CUSTOM aimed at making radical changes to the organisational and operation structures of today’s manufacturing industry, specially focusing on assembly intensive products such as in the automotive sector. The most critical innovations that are introduced by the project involve:

- Integration of the customer in the initial product design phase using cutting edge tools and exploiting the capabilities of web based communications and state of the art virtual reality platforms. Within e-CUSTOM, the product’s engineering phase is extended throughout the duration of the model’s production. A web based user-friendly application for personalisation, virtual prototyping and advanced visualisation, ia one of the strongest assets provided by the project. The scope is to allow the customer to carry out some of the work that would otherwise be performed by the design engineer, so as to ensure that the final product conforms to the customer’s unique specifications. Nevertheless, granting the designer role to the customer is carefully achieved by selecting the extent of customisation that the user will be able to handle. This is to ensure that critical elements for the functionality and safety of the final product are not altered in any way. At each stage, the customer is able to visualize the changes he performs on the vehicle using Augmented Reality functionalities, while in the background intelligent algorithms are elaborated to check the design and production’s feasibility.

- Creation of a decentralised manufacturing framework to allow production of individualised products in a fast, cost-efficient and environmentally-friendly manner e-CUSTOM solutions will focus not only on the design phase of the product, but will also extend to provide solutions on how the e-CUSTOM generated individualised product will be manufactured. Towards this direction and based on the design that was carried in the previous stage, software tools will be developed to enable the semi-automated identification of the manufacturing processes that need to take place and facilitating information as to where each process can take place. In this direction, a platform will be developed that will utilize multiple cost, performance and energy efficiency criteria in order for the most efficient manufacturing scheme (who, where, how and when) to be determined.

- Environmental Assessment and Optimisation of the Customisation Implications

Special emphasis was given on the development of an intelligent decision support module to evaluate alternative operation scenarios that are quantified in terms of energy efficiency, CO2 footprint, eco-toxicity. In this context the design and implementation of the e-CUSTOM Material and Process Environmental Impact Assessment was carried out, supported by an ontology for capturing, classifying, storing and retrieving environmental knowledge for each addressed process and material.

Case studies:

“Domain Independent Solution Capable of Accommodating Various Industrial Domains”

Highly Customised Automotive Products

Production of low volume and high-value luxury cars

The final goal of the automotive use case is to support the collaboration between end user and OEMs by providing a direct interface between then. The final customer is involved in a process of car personalisation during the product development process. This approach allows customers to express their product requirements and carry out product realisation process, as well as to give a direct feedback to the producers. The scenario of the pilot case includes 2D or 3D visualisation of each car model and web-based 3D product customisation module. An online conversion into 3D printed model is also allowed. The automotive pilot subseries also the maintenance of a database of dealers and suppliers.

Personalised Orthotic Insoles

Low scale production with high customisation requirements such as orthotics insoles

The orthotic insoles pilot demonstrates the collection of data, such as foot scans and type of orthotic required, and the digital transfer of this information to be used in the design and manufacture of customised orthotics.

Customer-configured Robotic Laser Cutting Machines

Customised robots that enable the realisation of customised products

When the automotive pilot case of the e-CUSTOM Framework was developed Prima Industry, interested on the developments, decided to exploit it in a new add-on pilot case from the CNC Laser robot machinery. This enabled to check the e-CUSTOM Framework in a completely different industrial case, with similar customisation needs.

Two CNC Robot Machine Systems have been chosen: PLATINO and RAPIDO System - the most popular products of PRIMA INDUSTRY for 2D Laser Metal sheet cutting and 3D Laser Cutting and Welding application.

Data related to components description like Plant, Suppliers and Sales, were collected and imported into the e-CUSTOM platform.

As shown in the figure above, components 6, 7 and 8 are customisation options, whose data could be transferred and analysed through the e-CUSTOM platform. The features for collaborative user design support the generation of BoM, BoP and Supply Manufacturing Network in order to simulate all possible configurations.

Consortium:

The project consortium consists of eleven partners from six different EU countries (Please see the attached PDF Summary and S&T Objectives)

Success story:

The e-CUSTOM project was evaluated together with 98 other FP7 FoF research projects and was selected as one of the two Success Stories of the overall research framework (http://ec.europa.eu/research/industrial_technologies/events-fp7-draft-programme-2010_en.html)

Project Results:

The description provide below for the main S&T results/foregrounds of the project is a brief version that contains no artwork and visualisation of the various project developments. For additional information, including graphical content and any figures that are mentioned in the text, please refer to the attached PDF file entitled "e-CUSTOM_Description of ST Objectives".

WP0 Project Management

Objectives of the Work Package for the Reporting Period

The purpose of WP0 was the overall management of the project. The Project Coordinator (LMS) worked towards achieving the aims of the project and towards the establishment of communication channels with the EC and third parties. The management during the entire duration of the project was very successful as depicted by the fact that the project has been announced a Success Story two consecutive years. Moreover, the consortium’s commitment during the entire project and the strong bonds developed between the partners led to receiving very positive comments by both the Project Officer and the Project Technical Advisor during the Final Review Meeting. Additionally, no deviations have to be reported for the submission of the deliverables as described in the Description of Work as well as to the financial statements of the partners. 

LMS has chaired the Management Board of nineteen meetings, ten of which were General Assembly Meetings with technical orientation. The managerial duties of the coordinator for the project’s duration can be summarized in the following:

• Provide and control financial procedures for the project and its Work packages
• Control reporting procedures & deliverables preparation
• Act as the secretary to the General Assembly and to the Management Board.
• Conduct daily management activities of the Project
• Support the execution of decisions taken of the General Assembly / Management Board

Technical progress per task / technical achievements with respect to the WP objectives

• Task 0.1 “Financial Administration”

The main objective of this task was the overall project administration concerning all the financial issues and pertinent administrative aspects as well as the effective communication with the EC (e.g. cost statements collection and submission to the EC, establish contact with the Commission Financial Office, payments coordination).  The Final Financial Report has been submitted (D0.2 Financial Report).

• Task 0.2 “Project Management”
• Design and maintain specific templates for collecting input to the required EC documents,
• Implementing and maintaining of a project-specific database for reporting and controlling, including the adaptation of the structure after changes in the work plan and the consortium,
• Addressing problems which have arisen and measures to be taken to be overcome them,
• Preparing, executing and post-processing of major project meetings, and
• Implementing and maintaining the project infrastructure, e.g., the internal platform for information exchange and email lists

WP1 e-CUSTOM Concept & Requirements Analysis

Objectives of the Work Package

The main objectives of WP1 can be summarized in:

• Definition of requirements and specifications that drove the e-CUSTOM developments
• Definition of e-CUSTOM developments and foreseen activities which are required for the accomplishment of the project concepts.
• Documentation of enabling technologies and state of the art surveys in order to identify most appropriate implementation courses and avoid already identified drawbacks.
• Analysis of the user requirements to satisfy the individual needs of the multiple user roles that will be supported by the set of tools that will be developed in the project.
• Detailed description of the pilot cases specifications so that their particularities can be tackled from the early design stages
• Technical progress per task / technical achievements with respect to the WP objectives
• Task 1.1 “Definition of e-CUSTOM Specifications”

The Task 1.1 was led by LMS and was focused on the following:

1. Document the current state of the art in the automotive and healthcare industrial sectors:

• Product design and customization by the customers
• Manufacturing networks for the production and supply of end products
• Environmental considerations in the manufacturing of customized products
• Network infrastructure and supporting IT technologies for integration

2. Analyse the state of the art and the e-CUSTOM preliminary pilot case scenarios, in order to identify and document user requirements beyond the current state of the art.

3. Perform an analysis of the identified user requirements and derive the specifications for each e-CUSTOM pylon as well as for each individual development to be carried out under each pylon.

The conclusions derived from the analysis indicate the following:

1. Advanced user intervention is needed in both the early product design stages as well as in the customization phase. Current configuration/option selection capabilities are very static and provide a very limited degree of customization.
2. The production of components is now dictated by pre-defined options designed by the OEM. More flexibility and transparency is needed to allow the production of non-standard components. Tools for the generation and evaluation of production scenarios are needed.
3. Tools for the dynamic assessment of the environmental impact that the customer intervention is introducing need to be developed. The environmental indicator should be visible by both the customer who can vary his decision according to it and by the OEM who will be able to identify the most environmental friendly production plan to follow.

• Task 1.2 “Available Technologies Review”

Task 1.2 was led by TECNALIA, where the performed tasks have been the support on the technology review and the pilot cases definition. For D1.2, the main purpose was to:

1. Identify and describe all the use cases which univocally describe the scenarios/pilot cases, including actors, activities decomposition and workflows.
2. Define an implementation strategy, which identifies what components of the platform require more implementation effort to be able to introduce new e-CUSTOM functionalities.
3. Establish acceptance and validation criteria, which served as reference in future stages of the project and allowed coming back and checking if the implementation met the requirements

To achieve these objectives, a 5-step methodology was proposed:

Step 1 – Identification of use cases and actors involved with pilot cases, where a non-formalized high-level description of the processes/activities composing each pilot case was provided.
Step 2 - Formalization of ‘use cases’ with modelling tools, where a formal process schemes, drawn out at different decomposition levels, has been provided.
Step 3 – Mapping operational requirements on processes and activities with the defined pylons, where the current process/activity features description (AS-IS) attached to each process/activity envisioned characteristics has been provided in the formal description, considering the Pylon distribution of the e-CUSTOM project.
Step 4 – Definition of the implementation strategy, where a possible roadmap for the implementation of the enabled processes has been defined. This goes through the comparison of the newly enabled processes (TO-BE) with the existing processes (AS-IS) and the definition of the implementation strategy.
Step 5 – Identification of verification and acceptance criteria, where for each use case the analyst, with the help of the industrial partner, has defined the verification and acceptance criteria to check the compliance of the use case description with the use case requirements previously defined.

Throughout this task, the use cases of the Automotive and Healthcare Pilot Scenarios have been identified and described extensively. Moreover, the Operational Processes have been formalized through Use Case Diagrams and Activity Diagrams that improved the understanding of the workflow. Furthermore technological aspects that need improvement or implementation have been defined and, finally, acceptance criteria have been identified for both cases.

• Task 1.3 “User Requirements Analysis”

The objective of the task T1.3 was to collect, analyse and synthesize user requirements related to automotive and healthcare test cases. The following activities were carried out:

• Definition of a method for requirements classification
• Definition of a method for the analysis of requirements
• Collection of requirements by End User
• User requirements analysis, description and synthesis

The e-CUSTOM project provided several developments such as the User Adaptive Design System (UADS), the Decentralized Manufacturing Platform (DEMAP), the Environmental Assessment Module (EAM). Each of these developments performs specific funcitons is used by users with different roles (Customers, OEMs, Suppliers, etc.). In the automotive scenario, the final customer is involved in car personalization during the product development process. This approach allows the customers to express their product requirements and carry out product realization process by elaborating the feedbacks coming from the market. The CRF scenario covers all the three e-CUSTOM Pylons. Regarding Pylon I (User Adaptive Design System - UADS), the objective was to directly involve a large number of potential final customers during the car stylistic choices. The healthcare pilot case focused on proving the e-CUSTOM concepts on a low to medium scale production with high customization requirements such as orthotic insoles. The pilot case started by working for a connection between a set of practitioners and a laboratory and when successful move closer to a retail environment. The aim is to improve the current FIAT car style development process, in which stylistic decisions are taken by a Management Board with the support of feedbacks coming from marketing researches or from “focus group” activities. The involvement of a larger number of potential customers will allow the development of new products, with characteristics very near to market expectations. Concerning Pylon II (DEcentralized MAnufacturing Platform - DEMAP), the aim was to provide a method, which allows the OEM to select the best productive and assembling solution. Pylon III (Environmental Assessment Module - EAM), the objective is to apply the e-CUSTOM developed method for the evaluation of environmental impact.

• Task 1.4 “Definition of Industrial Pilot Cases”

The main objective of Task 1.4 was the definition and detailed description of the pilot cases where the project developments were validated. To do so, it was necessary to receive inputs from the three previous tasks of WP1, more specifically: conceptualization and specifications from T1.1, existing technologies from T1.2 and user requirements from T1.3. The pilot cases identified are:

• Automotive case: production of highly customised cars
• Healthcare case: the fabrication of orthotic insoles that require a high degree of customization

Therefore, the specific actions developed in Task 1.4 have been the following:

1. Identify and describe all the use cases which univocally describe the scenarios/pilot cases, including actors, activities decomposition and workflows.
2. Define an implementation strategy, in the detail allowed at this stage of the project, which identifies what components of the platform require more implementation effort to be able to introduce new e-CUSTOM functionalities.
3. Establish acceptance and validation criteria which will serve as reference in future stages of the project and allows coming back and checking if the implementation meets the requirements.

WP2 User-Adaptive Design System

Objectives of the Work Package

WP2 focused on the development of the User-Adaptive Design System which targets at:

­ The inclusion of the customer at the initial design and
­ The collaboration of manufacturers, customers, material and equipment suppliers in order to improve the customization level of the final product.

The collaboration of the various stakeholders, in a user-adaptive environment, can increase the options available and will also facilitate the qualification of only the approved ones. During the initial design phase, the customer is able to provide feedback to the OEM, regarding concept designs of products. This will lead to the creation of products that the market truly wants. Moreover, the online customization of purchasable products has been achieved through the development of a web-based 3D configurator and a 2D configurator. In addition, the customer is capable of visualising the personalised product through a novel Augmented Reality software module that is also deployed on an Android running mobile device as application. Finally, the customer can export his/her uniquely personalised product in appropriate formats in order to be imported to a 3D printer and to produce a small scale physical mock-up. The OEM on the other hand can utilise the 3D printing functionalities for the production of small batch products. Where in the first period of the project (M1-M18) the work in WP2 concentrated on defining the needed Product Data Model and Workflow Analysis (T2.1) and the development of the User-Adaptation Functionality (T2.2), the second period (M19-M36) concentrated on the actual implementation of two key development of the e-CUSTOM project:

­ User-Adaptive Design System Implementation (T2.3)
­ Virtual Environment (VR/AR) Implementation and Integration (T2.4)

T2.3 has focussed on delivering a prototype User-Adaptive Design which will and has been used in the Demonstration activities. It must be said the ground work of this task has been done in M11-M18 but still some reporting on the work done in M19-M36 is appropriate. T2.4 provided a Virtual Environment in order to strengthen the user’s perception and experience when deciding on the customization options available. As WP2 involves a lot of development of prototype software, focus in this part of the report will be on the schematic approach as the actual development as such is not extremely interesting to report on. More important is the actual use and demonstration of these two key developments as will be reported on in the Demonstration activities. However for more technical details, please refer to D2.3 and D2.4

Technical progress per task / technical achievements with respect to the WP objectives

• Task 2.1 “Product Data Model and Workflow Analysis”

Task 2.1 was led by TECNALIA, where the performed task has been the support on the Product Data Model. The main objectives of the task were to:

1. Describe the workflows of Healthcare and Automotive Pilot Cases, finding out the commonalities trying to establish a generic workflow which can be applicable to customizable products of different nature. The procedure was to analyse the workflow in two separate pilot cases and find which the common processes among them are and which are differentiated. It was also necessary to analyse the distinctive features of each pilot case, basically to see what the particularities are and how they can be encapsulated and modelled within a generic workflow that can accept different types of products with different levels of customization.
2. Provide a general first approach of the logical entities and relations between them taking part in the product data model for e-CUSTOM platform. This model collects the basic functionalities of the platform and represents them through UML Class Diagrams. This model reflected the logical objects / entities and their relationships while taking into account the required functionality in the platform. First the core parts of the model are described and it is also shown how that model can be used to define the particular pilot cases. Afterwards, the different functionalities to be provided by the e-CUSTOM platform pylons were analysed. Eventually objects that generally represent the added functionality are incorporated into the generic data model.
3. Analyse the preliminary identified functionalities to be adopted within the e-CUSTOM platform regarding UADS, DEMAP, EAM and NISI Pylons and their impact into the product data model.
4. Finally, the first formal description in terms of concrete UML diagrams (Fig. 1) showing connections between pylons was built on the basis of the previous contents of the document and with the aim of come in useful for the forthcoming developments within the pylons.

• Task 2.2 “User-Adaptation Functionality”

The achieved objectives of the Task are described below:

1. The specifications of the User Adaptive Design System (UADS) were defined.
2. The functional requirements of UADS were documented.
3. The conceptual system architecture was presented.
4. The detailed software design of the UADS was performed using Entity Relationship Diagrams and Unified Modelling Language Diagrams.
5. The generic Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) were developed and configured for the two pilot case scenarios, namely the Automotive and the Healthcare cases.
6. The Virtual and Augmented Reality module functionalities were identified and tailored for the two pilot case scenarios.
7. The preliminary data exchange between the UADS and the other e-CUSTOM Pylons (Pylon II Decentralized Manufacturing Platform, DEMAP and Pylon III Environmental Assessment Module, EAM) was documented.

• Task 2.3 “User-Adaptive Design System Implementation”

Based upon the results of WP1, T2.1 and T2.2, the system architecture was defined (Fig. 2).

In line with the project's objectives two parallel research streams were further detailed and elaborated on resulting in prototype software that came to existence in this second period of the project. The developments were driven by the requirements of the two pilot cases of the project (Fig. 3). One pilot case is coming from the automotive sector and the second is coming from the personalised orthotic insoles. An additional third case coming from the CNC machine building was later initiated through LMS and PRIMA (described below).

The incorporation of the third pilot case was carried out without making significant modifications to the software depicting the robustness, scalability and extensibility of the software tool.

For the specific approach orthotics case, a specialist CAD software and hardware to drive the medically based foot orthotics design was developed to enable (as in line with the work plan) the optimal user involvement from foot scanning, prescription management and order tracking through to the manufacturing centre and return delivery of the product. The use of existing know-how gave this specific approach a jump-start and new experiences gained in the initial work packages was used to enhance the approach and incidentally they were also used to feedback into the generic approach. This was especially exemplified by the recognition of a generic pattern in the workflow of the automotive and medical data modelling and process analysis. Developed within e-CUSTOM are innovations that concentrate on connecting various local ICT needs via a central architecture that centrally manages all data. The user is, via this innovative approach, able to view the process-progress from any location either through a desktop application or web based client as long as internet access is available. Foremost, the customer is able to add his/her requirements at the start of the cycle when design decisions are being made. The e-CUSTOM workflow management also enable the updating of the user via regularly email updates. In M19-M36, the specific approach's software has been passed over to partners LMS and AKEO+ for further testing and to demonstrate the ability of being independent of location and to verify that the process satisfies the requirements from earlier WPs. Training has been executed to enable users located in Greece and France to install the new software and run through the workflow that includes linking directly to the foot scanner. Any change made in the process on any location (Greece, France or UK) were centrally processed and the tracking of the results made available real-time at any location. This has been successfully executed and provided a lot of valuable feedback which resulted in a serious update of the prototype software. As a result the realized software and hardware has been integrated in to the OrthoPod work station for a closer customer experience that simulated a retail environment.

It seems that the UADS is a stand-alone application resulting from the e-CUSTOM project and indeed it can be treated as such. This was elaborately done as this allows further exploitation of parts of the UADS results by the e-Custom partners. A good example is the specific UADS which will be further exploited by partner Delcam while also partner CRF is further investigating the automotive UADS. Moreover, based on the automotive UADS, PRIMA has its own installation of the software deployed locally and tailored for the needs of the CNC machines sector. Additionally, the developments under UADS were tested on a pilot case coming from the industrial sector of CNC laser cutting machines. PRIMA, interested in the developments approached LMS for the incorporation of that additional pilot case (not stated in the Dow). LMS proceeded with the tailoring and appropriate adaptation of the UADS and DEMAP (described in WP3 below).

• Task 2.4 “Virtual Environment (VR/AR) Implementation and Integration”

The Task 2.4 aimed at the development of the Virtual and Augmented Reality module. The module aimed at enhancing the user-friendliness of the e-CUSTOM platform, by providing state of the art product visualization and editing features over web. Based on the progress made in this task up to M18, where the review of existing platforms was carried out, in M19-M34 the actual system was developed based upon the state of the art analysis, looking at existing tools, the programming languages to use and file formats chosen to implement the functionalities.

Augmented Reality (AR) Visualisation

The customer can utilise the developed AR and 3D Configuration features for a particular product. If any of the above features are enabled by OEM, then two thumbnails, one for each feature respectively, can be selected by the user to view the product either in Augmented Reality or to configure the product in a lightweight 3D environment. In order for the customer to use the AR features he must have in his disposal a web camera. Also, the JavaTM Runtime Environment (JRE, version 6 and newer) must be installed. JRE is also necessary for the 3D environment (Fig. 4).

3D Product Configuration

Once the Customer selects the 3D editing option, the developed portlet allows the modification of the geometry for the product. The modifications are performed through slide bars that control the geometry of specific parts in a constrained way, as defined by the OEM. The customer can save or reject his changes by clicking the buttons “Save” and “Reject” respectively (Fig. 5).

Additionally, the Customer can buy his customised product by clicking on the button “Buy”. Further to that the Customer can download the 3D model of his customised product in “.stl” format and import it to a 3D printer.

Mobile AR Visualisation

The AR module was ported on an application for Android OS mobile devices that can be deployed on smartphones and tablets. The application utilises the Unity3DTM libraries for image tracking. The development of the mobile AR application was not envisioned by the DoW. LMS developed the application with no additional financial claims and no amendments on the allocated PMs (Fig. 6).

Rapid Manufacturing

The implemented RM module provides a valuable functionality for advertisement reasons. It is a solution that can be easily adopted by dealers through the investment on a typical 3D printer. Moreover, the OEM can utilise it for small series manufacturing, as truly personalised product geometries ranging from key-chains up to more complex components (i.e. hood) will be manufactured in the near future on-the-spot. Using the developed RM module, the following physical prototypes were created (Fig. 7).

WP3 Decentralized Manufacturing Framework

Objectives of the Work Package 

The collection of data from all retailers for the generation of supply / manufacturing schemes

The Optimization Heuristics Module generates the requirements regarding product materials and processes in a systematic manner and generates a list of alternatives for each supply and manufacturing process. The required resources and material alternatives are communicated to the Dynamic Network Module which identifies potential supply/manufacturing schemes and queries the individual nodes in order to check for availability and eventually calculate the efficiency and cost of the whole scheme. All derived solutions are evaluated by the Decentralised Manufacturing Platform (DEMAP) and the most appropriate qualifies, based on multiple criteria including cost, delivery time and environmental impact.

Technical progress per task / technical achievements with respect to the WP objectives

• Task 3.1 “Investigation of Decentralized Manufacturing Enablers & Constraints”

The objectives of this task were the identification of enablers and constraints for the implementation of decentralized manufacturing systems. Thus, task 3.1 constituted a rationale at the basis of the DEMAP specification and implementation.  Firstly, a comprehensive state of the art in the definition and implementation of distributed manufacturing systems has been worked out, outlining the main DMS typologies, characterizing features and application issues.  From this, the potential benefits and drawbacks for the applications of the various DMS typologies have been worked out, through the identification and assessment of key performance parameters for each major DMS typology.  Further, the methodologies and tools for the environmental of each DMS typology instantiation have been investigated and described, together with the identification of the main issues underlying them.  At the same time, the main issues underlying the technical and economic sustainability of DMS applications have been identified and discussed.  Finally, as a result of all this work, a series of guidelines for the definition of potential solutions and tools for the implementation of DMS have been derived, which will be utilized during the DEMAP definition and specification activities.

• Task 3.2 “Development of Optimization Heuristics Module”

The main objective of Task 3.2 was the:

• Development of a software module responsible for the identification of the most efficient supply and manufacturing process that can be followed by assessing the enablers and constraints identified in Task 3.1
• Generation of customized Bill of Materials (BoM) and Bill of Processes (BoP)

This was achieved through the procedure depicted in the diagram of Fig. 8.

1. Product Changes (materials, other characteristics e.g. color) / customer approval or rejection of alternatives or the options he selected
2. Alternative materials (assessment results): costs, environmental impact information send to UADS for customer approval
3. Retrieval of potential alternative materials and processes
4. Customized Bill of Materials and Bill of Processes
5. Send the alternative materials and processes information evaluation results to GUI

• Task 3.3 “Development of Dynamic Network Module”

The Dynamic Network Module is responsible for:

• Transforming in near real-time the supply and manufacturing chain according to the product defined by the customer in Pylon II and the results of the Heuristics Optimization module.
• Selection of the most appropriate supply/manufacturing sequence of operations that meet certain user criteria

The following progress has been made concerning the objectives stated above:

• Use Cases of the Dynamic Network Module have been defined for: OEM, Supplier, Third Party Logistics, Distributor
• Use Cases for customers are currently being defined.
• Description and classification of node characteristics for Supplier, OEM and Third Party Logistics using XML.
• Description and classification of node characteristics for Distributor is currently under way.
• Analysis of technological constraints in manufacturing / supply operations, as well as their formal description
• First draft of the intelligent algorithm for the formulation of supply and manufacturing process alternatives specified using flow charts.
• Refinement of algorithm
• Specification of interfaces for the Optimization Heuristics Module to retrieve potential manufacturing and supply alternatives (WSDL).
• Specification of interfaces for the Environmental Assessment Module to evaluate potential manufacturing and supply alternatives (WSDL).
• Specification of an application scenario for the automotive industry to drive and test the Dynamic Network Module development.
• Setup of Dummy Suppliers and their SCM systems for testing the intelligent algorithm.
• Development of the DNM module
• Integration with DEMAP through web-services
• Task 3.4 “Decentralized Manufacturing Platform Implementation”

The DEcentralized MAnufacturing Platform (DEMAP) hosts in a user-friendly and adaptive Graphical User Interface (GUI) and orchestrate the communication of the:

• Optimization Heuristics Module (T3.2)
• Dynamic Network Module (T3.3)

Moreover, DEMAP communicates with UADS and EAM. UADS sends to DEMAP the customer orders and EAM calculates the environmental impact of the alternative manufacturing network configurations. All data and information exchange is channelled through the Network Infrastructure and Systems Integration Pylon (NISI) described in WP5 below. The scope of the developments under Task 3.4 can be summarised in Fig. 9.

mDEMAP:

Another development that was accomplished during the project that was not stated in the DoW is the mDEMAP Android application (Fig. 10). The mDEMAP application ports a number of functionalities existing in DEMAP, such as: visualisation of the partners, their locations, their contact information, their production capabilities (resources, products) and visualisation and approval / rejection of the executed manufacturing networks. The mDEMAP communicates through web-services with the e-CUSTOM platform and offers database server connectivity for data synchronisation. It exploits the mobile device’s location services and offers standard functionalities provided by cell phones (e.g. phone-calls, SMS).

WP4 Environmental Assessment Module

Objectives of the Work Package for the Reporting Period

The WP4 activities were focused on the development of the EAM and its integration with DEMAP.

Hence, partners involved in the development of the Environmental Assessment Module (EAM) have provided a ‘ready-to-use’ and ‘automated’ application that, coupled with the other modules developed under the e-CUSTOM , feeds the DEMAP module with the environmental impact analysis of each manufacturing alternative.

Technical progress per task / technical achievements with respect to the WP objectives

• Task 4.1 “Material & Process Environmental Ontology”

In this task, the material and process environment ontology is developed for e-Custom environmental assessment module. The objective of the ontology to make the planner get the potential environmental impact of materials and resources employed for any product manufacturing or supply process node. Four concepts related to product, process, resource and environmental impact were developed and the OWL files were generated using the Protégé ontology development tool. The workflow for the navigation of information from the knowledgebase is also defined. A web-based application to search/infer knowledge using Jena Engine is also selected. A Semantic Web Rules to infer knowledge about potential environmental impact of any combination of material related to product and resource related to process. A web service using Jena Engine is used to infer and query information from knowledge base.

• Task 4.2 “Development of Simulation-based Environmental Impact Measures”

Before the development of any tool for the estimation/simulation of the environmental impact, WP partners did request some support on the understanding of LCA and its calculation. After this analysis, it was agreed that an assessment of LCA and its contextualization to the e-CUSTOM necessities was required. Hence, the following adoption was finally done for the e-CUSTOM EAM.

The utilization of standardized tools and methodologies provides clearer advantages:

• It is independent of the selected materials or processes and not constrained to any final product.
• “Non-intrusive» solution”. No additional information to the already provided to DEMAP
• Demonstrate the feasibility of the utilization and combination of e-CUSTOM own developed pieces of software with off-the-shell applications.
• It is based on widely accepted standards, such as ISO 14040 and ISO 14044

In terms of the implementation, the workflow is as per (Fig. 11).

Where, information received from DEAMP with the processes and materials to be analysed, is automatically processed and the environmental impact values per each category (Abiotic depletion, Acidification, Eutrophication, Global Warming, Ozone Layer Depletion, Human Toxicity, Fresh Water Aquatic Ecotoxicity, Marine Aquatic Ecotoxicity, Terrestrial Ecotoxicity and Photochemical Oxidation) related with the selected methodology (CML2000) are returned.

This process can be automated thanks to the facility provided by SIMAPRO to the use of COM interfaces (Fig. 12).

• Task 4.3 “Environmental Assessment Module Implementation”

Finally, an integration with DEMAP was required, which can use those values to compare each alternative requested for analysis (Fig. 13).

Additionally, a standalone application for basic environmental impact analysis of materials and processes has been developed within T4.2. An additional efforts (~3PM) have been required to complete this development, for which however, no additional funds were requested.

WP5 Network Infrastructure & System Integration

Objectives of the Work Package for the Reporting Period

- The major objective in WP5 is to provide main support to the software development process that took place during the project by ensuring systematic communication, data management and interoperability.
- Based on these results a secondary objective was to foster a network infrastructure that enables software communication in between all participating modules within each layer and in between them (horizontally and vertically).
- The third objective was to implement a smart context module that enables semantic querying functions in logistic setups.
- A fourth objective was to integrate all methodologies and tools that have been developed within e-CUSTOM.
- A final fifth objective was to document the developed efforts in detail and in accordance to the integration process of the developed modules including user manuals as well as installation references.

Technical progress per task / technical achievements with respect to the WP objectives

• Task 5.1 “Multi-Layer Data Exchange Infrastructure”

Objectives:

 A seamless communication between the e-CUSTOM modules
 Utilizing standardised data exchange technologies such as web services, SOA, XML etc.
 Provision of data management services for the development in the design, manufacturing, planning and supply tasks
 Facilitate on-request data exchange among the modules to support interoperability and collaboration between the modules by using adapter or translators

Technical Progress

Based on the specifications of UADS, the Environmental Assessment, DEMAP and the specific legacy tools and data formats as well as D2.1 which describes the product data model, it’s definitions and the process workflow of the identified use cases, an overall analysis and identification of relevant information has been done. Based on the state of the art review provided in D1.1 SOAP technology has been chosen as transport technology utilizing the internet as the means of transportation. In accordance to the given legacy data formats and tools web services enabled the most effective and standardized method to use and re-use the data management functions within a wide array of tools most independent of existing boundaries. With regards to data exchange formats several possibilities have been analysed such as AML, XML, CAx etc. However in accordance to the broad reach of the e-CUSTOM modules from product design to production, XML has been chosen as the most versatile data exchange format.

The implementation of the data model followed a straight forward traditional waterfall development process. I.e. on basis of the specifications and the derived data model the realisation of object types have been implemented together with all relations. A final version has been completed, presented and circulated to all partners and end-users. In it, all identified data management requirements have been covered. It provides the data backbone for each module and thus enables a smooth interaction between the modules. The web service provided holds a variety of robust functions ready. Therefore it facilitates the on-request data exchange seamlessly.

During the validation stage, the maturity, performance, robustness and scalability of the integration software has been tested and in part reworked to a satisfying state. Furthermore the feedback towards functionality and usability as well as all inclines has been covered.

• Task 5.2 “Smart Logistics Integration”

Objectives:

 Development of smart context module querying from ontological information model similarities within any given supply network i.e. production orders.
 Development of a dynamic network for supply and manufacturing chains.
 Elimination of data inconsistencies with existing data from legacy systems
 Control of communication and cooperation of e-CUSTOM products by legacy systems, data bases and already used software tools
Technical Progress

First activities in this task included a detailed assessment together with the involved industrial partners on the ‘ERP/PPS/SCM systems used for automotive and healthcare (towards Adaptive CAD and VR / AR) sectors to understand and define: what services do exist, which are needed and where plug-in(s) have to be developed. Thus a certain range of requirements has been specified and prioritized and compared with the works developed in Pylon III in order to avoid prioritizing requirements which wouldn’t be supported by the envisioned technical means.

On basis of this result a specification list of the services has been setup in cooperation with and circulated amongst the industrial partners. Similarly a list of specifications for the necessary plug-in(s) has been suggested in cooperation with the software modules leaders and the industrial partners as well.

As during e-CUSTOM software development the classical waterfall implementation method has been utilized subsequently to the detailed specifications of the requirements, the development of an extended data model has been done as an extension to the generic data model covered by D2.1, and an implementation data model has been developed. Afterwards the implementation of the services and plug-ins has been undertaken accordingly. Thus a number of prototypes has been developed and presented in several telephone and physical meetings and the feedback of these events has been included into the module.

To validate the module internally at the software creator, the developed information model (ontology) has been enriched with test data and unit test have been executed. For the final validation the industrial partners in the consortium provided real time data on which basis the functionality of the module has been verified successfully.

The integration of the developed smart context plug-in and services into the overall e-CUSTOM systems was the final step of the work in task 5.2 and has been successfully done and tested.

• Task 5.3 “e-CUSTOM Framework Integration & Documentation”

Objectives

 Successful Integration of all developed modules in the pylon IV.
 Comprised Documentation of:
o e-CUSTOM Platform integration
o User Adaptive Design System
o Decentralised Manufacturing Platform
o Environmental Assessment Module
o Software Installation & User Guides
o Extensive Annex

Technical Progress of Task 5.3

Based on the work done in Task 5.1 the basic foundation of a successful integration of the e-CUSTOM modules has been already provided. Major focus in Task 5.3 was therefore to enable all refinements and additional functionalities based on the industrial partners’ feedback to embed smoothly into the given e-CUSTOM platform.

Furthermore it was of high priority to make sure that any inconsistencies of the data as well as the work flows deriving from the various modules would be addressed and handled accordingly. Thus the extended integration of additional methods from the services and plug-ins into the e-CUSTOM systems has been realized in corporation with all participating software developers. There was an extended testing period amongst all partners to ensure that all major software bugs have been eradicated and most of the minor bugs addressed. During the testing period additional functional requests appeared and in case resources were applicable, these have been included into the implementation rounds and re-tested again. Thus a highly functional e-CUSTOM platform was successfully developed.

Another focal point of Task 5.3 lied in the provision of a detailed documentation. This documentation didn’t only cover the technical aspects of the integration but furthermore included - in a comprehensive overview - all manuals and references necessary to start working with the e-CUSTOM system ad-hoc. However as the number of pages kept increasing another objective surfaced: to keep the documentation readable. Thus a strict document structure was developed with an extensive appendix. Through the given structure a red thread is quite visible and summarizes the development work with 50 pages.

WP6 Pilot Cases Execution

Objectives of the Work Package for the Reporting Period

WP6 started at month M19 of the e-CUSTOM project. The objectives of this WP were the assessment of the e-CUSTOM platform developments, the benchmarking over their previous / traditional operations / strategies and selection of key performance indicators, the evaluation of risks. Management of the improvement steps based on the application of the pilot cases scenario and prevention of the issues that could arise during real industrial application. In practice the objective was the execution of the scenario of the two pilot cases initially described in the D1.2. This work was subdivided into two tasks, Performance Indicators and Pilot Cases Execution & Results Evaluation.

Technical progress per task / technical achievements with respect to the WP objectives

• Task 6.1. “Performance indicators”

During the first task the verification metrics and key performance indicators (KPI) for each pilot case were defined and a roadmap to follow in the second task was created. The roadmap plans the subtasks to be executed in order to test, evaluate, analyse, modify and improve the platform.

• Task 6.2 “Pilot Cases Execution & Results Evaluation”

The roadmap defined in D6.1 was followed by all the partners. The objectives were the test and evaluation of the e-CUSTOM platform, then the analysis of this evaluation and the modifications to enhance the platform toward a full efficiency. Finally some suggestions for improvements have been proposed based on the application to real industrial scenario.

Two pilot cases have been evaluated, the automotive pilot case and the healthcare/orthotics pilot case. The evaluations of these two pilot cases are based on the same frame. The following actions were performs in the first task.

 Definition of the key performance indicators and of the functional indexes

The key performance indicators (KPI) evaluate the e-CUSTOM frame over the previous / traditional operations/strategies. The functional Indexes measure the effectiveness (FEI), the operability (FOI) and the criticality of the platform (FCI) which allow o evaluate the risks for the platform exploitation.

 Description of verification metrics and creation of the FMECA.

The verification metrics were defined based on the use case functions. So each pilot case defines its own verification metrics. The compilation of these metrics combined with their criticality indexes shape the FMECA for each pilot case.

 Creation of the roadmap for the evaluation

The roadmap defines the thread to follow in order to achieve an efficient evaluation-improvement process.

The second task was the evaluation of the platform and was performed through the execution of the roadmap defined in the first task. The platform comprises five steps:

 Installation – First Implementation (LMS, CRF, PRIMA, Delcam)

The e-CUSTOM platform was installed on the site of the demonstrators (the industrial company which are the final beneficiary of a pilot case) and they report any issues with respect to the installation.

 First Test (Akeoplus, CRF, PRIMA, Delcam, Mecan/Micro)

Several partners tested the e-CUSTOM platform, and reported bugs, issues in the FMECA which was used to compute the functional indexes. An analysis of the criticality was then performed.

 Modifications & Optimization (Akeoplus, CRF, PRIMA, Delcam, Mecan/Micro, LMS)

Modifications to the platform were suggested to enhance its functionality. The needed modifications were performed and the platform was retested with the FMECA, the functional indexes recomputed and the criticality was assessed again.

 Modifications and Finalization (Akeoplus, CRF, PRIMA, Delcam, Mecan/Micro, LMS)

The same as above ware iterated once more.

 Final analysis and perspective improvement

Based on each pilot case scenario execution, the criticality of the platform and its efficiency was evaluated, the analysis of this evaluation allows to suggest some improvements. In particular to use the platform in the most efficient way it is suggested that the manufacturers should be trained, then this platform will be likely to become essential. Considering the progress in the e-CUSTOM platform, a new pilot case scenario (PRIMA) has been created in order to test the platform to another industrial case and to show its wide spectrum of application. So all the goals of this work package have been achieved and even outstripped since the platform execution and evaluation was extended with an added industrial scenario.

WP7 Exploitation and Dissemination

Objectives of the Work Package for the Reporting Period

The dissemination and exploitation of the project’s results is a major objective. The WP includes actions that focus on making the results of the project well known throughout the European industrial and scientific community. Therefore, effective awareness actions have been identified, aiming to provide necessary information to the academic and industrial community through conferences, seminars, exhibitions and workshops with related themes.

Technical progress per task / technical achievements with respect to the WP objectives

• Task 7.1 “Project Web Portal”

The e-CUSTOM Project Portal (URL: www.ecustom-project.eu) was designed in order to provide an online platform for efficient circulation of information among the partners. It has been used as the central information system for all project related information and activities. It was developed on Month 06 (November 2011) of the project by LMS, according to Task 7.1 of the project (M01 - M06). The website is based on the ZONE / PLONE platforms and distributed under the GNU GPL Licence. The e-CUSTOM web server consists of a private and a public part. The private part is restricted to consortium members and is utilized for internal data storage and exchange. The public part is published, advertised and accessible to non-consortium parties. The privileges (access rights) are vested to the user upon login. The goal of this portal is to promote and disseminate the project’s results. The consortium will continue improving the web portal all through the duration of the project. After the end of the project, the portal still continues functioning, providing information about the project’s results and products.

• Task 7.2 “Dissemination”

The objective of the dissemination activities were:

• Making the results of the project well known throughout the European industrial and scientific community.
• To provide necessary information to the academic and industrial community through conferences, seminars, exhibitions and workshops with related themes.

The following progress has been made concerning the objectives stated above:

• 4 Research papers submitted at Conferences or in Journals (within consortium countries)
• 12 Presentations held at conferences or workshops.
• 7849 persons have visited the E-CUSTOM Web portal from 130 different countries.
• 7 workshops were held by the industrial partners to make the e-CUSTOM project known within their respective companies.
• Dissemination report D7.2a compiled and submitted.

The summarised figures from the active dissemination activities of the project are depicted in Fig. 14.

• Task 7.3 “Exploitation”

The definition of an adequate and systematic exploitation way of the project results is one of the key objectives of the e-CUSTOM project. Up to now, the individual exploitation ideas of the consortium members have been defined and shared and, in the upcoming months, the detailed exploitation plan for the whole consortium will be defined. The main exploitation activities that should be carried out are the following:

• Identify favourable market conditions concerning the research results for personal and organisational use at the end of the project.
• Technology leadership programs through a privileged access to the technology suppliers, involved in the research. This initiative will provide the end users involved with a certain competitive advantage, related to the systematic recording of the expertise, gained during the project, which will actually act as a protection of their time and money investments in the research.
• Results related to the product and process data management, i.e. innovations of e-CUSTOM, which will foster collaboration among design, development, manufacturing and sales teams inside a company as well as the collaboration among partners in production networks, whilst integrating the customers’ part in the entire virtual organization.

WP8 RTD Coordination

Objectives of the Work Package for the Reporting Period

The purpose of this work package was to cover the coordination of RTD activities of the project including the control of the industry-driven R&D orientations of the e-CUSTOM work.

Technical progress per task / technical achievements with respect to the WP objectives

• Task 8.1 “Project Coordination and Monitoring”

This task covers all of the activities, related to the RTD coordination of the e-CUSTOM consortium and project, in collaboration with the WP leaders in order to cope with the problems of specifying, integrating, developing and evaluating the concepts, methodologies and technologies within the project. Among others:

• The scientific coordination and monitoring of subprojects and work-packages
• The supervision of project progress milestones and project global critical path
• The scientific review of the work performed by the partners including scientific deliverables
• Research risk management
• The preparation of the scientific part of the reports to be submitted to the EC

• Task 8.2 “Progress Reporting”

The project’s progress reports were prepared within this task, including the present document. Regular progress reports will assess the research results, concerning the acquired concepts and methodologies, software development status and best practices preparation.

Therefore, the progress reports include information related to:

• Description of the work completed up to the reporting date
• Description of the work planned after the reporting date
• Summary of the results up to the reporting date
• Description of the problems which have arisen and measures to be taken in order for these problems to be overcome
• Contribution concerning deliverables

Potential Impact:

For additional information please refer to the attached PDF file entitled "e-CUSTOM_Dissemination and Exploitation".

Dissemination has been considered from the e-CUSTOM project as key indicator for the project success. The successful project management strategy relays on the ability to manage and share knowledge. The identified from the project beginning dissemination objectives related to the following main categories:

• Project results awareness increase;
• Identify favourable market conditions for further project results development
• Establishing links with relevant communities and projects; have been supported by dissemination channels identified following the targeted audiences.

Several dissemination channels have been identified and classified on two main groups – passive and active dissemination activities. The passible activities include poster, flyer, booklet and video materials that have been distributed during all events organised or visited and will be distributed after project end, as well. The active dissemination activities focused on direct communication with target groups and are included in Table 4 and Table 5. Interactive dissemination channels, like workshops, talks and lectures, networking events, symposia, and fairs have been targeted for groups with a high interest and requirement for information transfer to the consortium.

In additional dissemination success factors like number of papers publications, trade fairs organization, etc., have been stated from the project beginning in order to enable follow up of the implementation of the dissemination strategy.

In total:

• 20 papers have been published in prestigious International journals and presented in conference
• 35 trade fairs, workshop, public meetings, intra-organisation presentations have been performed
• 3 PhD Thesis have been supported
• Over 5 student diploma thesis have been supported

Finally the realised dissemination activities during the project life cycle justify a high added value and positive impact of the project on the whole European Union. As described in D7.2c, in total, more than 3.500 scientist and engineering professionals have been reached through active dissemination activities only, the consortium’s coordinator has been granted with best paper award.

Note: for a detailed overview of the projects dissemination activities, please refer to the publicly available deliverable D7.2c “Year 3 Dissemination Report” that can be found in the following link:

http://www.ecustom-project.eu/events/e-CUSTOM-D7.2c-FINAL.pdf/view

List of Websites:

e-CUSTOM Portal URL: www.ecustom-project.eu

Coordinators: Prof. George Chryssolouris xrisol@lms.mech.upatras.gr
Prof. Dimitris Mourtzismourtzis@lms.mech.upatras.gr
Laboratory for manufacturing Systems and Automation – LMS www.lms.mech.upatras.gr

Note: For additional details regarding the coordinator, contacts of the beneficiaries, consortium structure, project objectives and results, please see the enclosed PDF entitled "e-CUSTOM_Project Overview Presentation"


Related information

Reported by

UNIVERSITY OF PATRAS
Greece
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