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SMEs move their logistics to the cloud

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The IK4-IKERLAN Basque centre is participating in the C2Net European project funded by over 7 million euros through the 'Factories of the Future’ programme


16/12/2014

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  • The project will be developing cloud computing tools to help companies, mainly SMEs, to work in a collaborative way to optimize their flows of materials
  • The project will enable networks of enterprises to be built to cut costs and inefficiencies in their supply chains
     

Every day many companies have to manage a significant flow of materials entering and leaving their facilities. Doing this efficiently is no straightforward task and eats up many of the resources of companies. However, the bursting onto the scene of Internet-based technologies is opening up possibilities that had not even been thought about until recently in this sphere, like for example achieving the more efficient use of the assets present in the supply chain through the networked, collaborative management of demand as well as supply, production and distribution plans.

In this context, the European Union (EU) has set up the C2Net (Cloud Collaborative Manufacturing Networks) project in which the Basque centre IK4-IKERLAN is participating. It seeks to develop various cloud computing tools to help companies, mainly SMEs, to optimise the management of their supply chains by taking advantage of the resources offered by the Internet. The project will thus enable networks of companies to be built in order to cut costs and operational inefficiencies in their supply chains.

C2Net is being funded by Horizon 2020, the EU programme supporting R&D, and has a budget of over 7 million euros. It is part of the 'Factories of the future' initiative devoted to developing high added-value technologies for the so-called factories of the future.

Specifically, the tools that will be developed aim to set up collaborative business scenarios so that this networked management can help companies incorporate innovation and improve their global competitiveness. These applications will be capable not only of monitoring in real time the flow of materials between plants, suppliers and customers, but also to calculate the best possible option that is in the interests of the companies involved.

For example, through the developments scheduled to be carried out in C2Net it will be possible to monitor in real time unscheduled events like a delay in the supply of a certain material, the downtime of a machine or a variation in demand at consumption points. Once the information has been analysed, the optimisation tools will propose new supply, production or distribution plans designed to minimise the impact on costs and maximise the use of logistic resources and service provided to the customer.

The C2Net project will be launched on 1 January 2015 and will go on for 3 years. Besides IK4-IKERLAN another 20 organisations from 6 European countries are participating, all led by the company Atos IT Solutions and Services.

Supporting SMEs

SMEs do not tend to have sufficient resources to develop or acquire specific computing programs that will enable them to optimise their supply chains and have them always under control as a result of having information in real time about what is going on in them. That is why the C2Net project will be developing computing applications that are scalable and adaptable to different types of enterprises belonging to sectors as varied as the automotive, cosmetics or capital goods sectors.

The role of IK4-IKERLAN

In this project IK4-IKERLAN will be applying the experience it has built up in many projects involving technology transfer to industrial companies to specify industrial scenarios, functional requirements and C2Net validation scenarios. It will also be actively participating in the design and implementation of cloud architecture as well as the development of simulation models and optimisation algorithms. To carry out these activities IK4-IKERLAN will receive funding in excess of 550,000 euros.

“What spurs us on at IK4-IKERLAN is the desire to help companies be more competitive and we have experience in improving the organisation of all kinds of companies, from multinationals to small enterprises in our area, and this has enabled us to build up significant experience in this field," asserted Eduardo Saiz, head of the project at the Basque R&D centre.

“This project has received funding from the (European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme) (Euratom research and training programme 2014-2018) under grant agreement Nº 636909"

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