Smes in the supply chain of plastic metal processing
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most of the times we deal with a family-craft industry. phases: quotation design milling assembly test validation ...

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SMEs in the supply chain of plastic/metal processing

Some needs, best practices and ideas from ASCAMM Foundation

Ricard Jiménez

Manager - Sectoral ICT Solutions

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  • Technology Centre

  • private non-profit organisation

  • giving support to all the agents in the plastic and metal transformingsupply chain

    • training

    • technology transfer

    • services

    • R&D

  • SMEs Association

  • 200 Catalan toolmakers

  • (tool = mould, die...)

  • involved in higher geographical responsibilities

    • Spanish: FEAMM

    • European: ISTMA-Europe

brainstorming "e-business for SMEs in FP6"

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... in Spain, technology centres are “the lost link” between public research and industry






We are well positioned for monitoring the RTD capabilities addressing the problems to the right solvers.

We are well positioned for detecting, capturing, modelling... most of the problems and improvement opportunities of a big amount/variety of SMEs.

brainstorming "e-business for SMEs in FP6"

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  • The NEEDS of SMEs come from (holistic) constraints:

  • market pressure (minimum time-to-market, maximum quality, minimum costs...)

  • technology (availability of the best and up-to-date knowledge and infrastructure, tailored non-standard solutions...)

  • socio-cultural (confidence and trust in the Internet...)

  • public policies ...

  • Some years ago, all these factors were opportunities for our small companies but now they are necessities for surviving.

brainstorming "e-business for SMEs in FP6"

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parts production


moulder (processor)

[SME, big company, multinational]


advanced integrated environments (concurrent engineering, project management, ERP...)


mould design

mould production


mouldmaker, engineering

[SME... more S than M !]


CAD, CAM, production control

part design



[SME, big company, multinational]


advanced integrated environments (CAx, PDM, concurrent engineering, project management, ERP...)

brainstorming "e-business for SMEs in FP6"

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Clearly, the weakest link (in the purest TOC) of this supply chain is the mouldmaker

briefing a mouldmaking company

employees: average 25

production: one-off

project based

tool-shop oriented

most of the times we deal with a family-craft industry

phases: quotation  design  milling  assembly  test  validation

brainstorming "e-business for SMEs in FP6"

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  • Just an example:

  • minimum time-to-market  rapid decisions of the toolmaker

  • accept/refuse the project (binary decision depending on resource availability)

  • good quotation (good = minimum deviations, maximum benefits)

  • good production planning (good = optimum resource assignment, minimum subcontracting, minimum destructive interferences with other current projects...)

  • good providers (good = on time at minimum cost)

  • designing optimised tools (optimum = maximum of productivity and quality at minimum cost)

  • ...

  • Clearly, ICT can alleviate all these needs (minimums, maximums, optimums...) and ASCAMM has been working in this direction during the last years.

brainstorming "e-business for SMEs in FP6"

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  • Support decision (knowledge engineering)

  • Applications that capture knowledge from experts, explicit (rule-based) and tacit (case-based) to assist in crucial phases of the whole supply chain workflow.

  • Distributed KBS to accelerate the maturity stage of the application.

  • Projects:

  • Knowledge Based Engineering for mould design (EC funding, IST-1999-20645)

  • Case-Based Reasoning for mould quotations and testing (local funding)

brainstorming "e-business for SMEs in FP6"

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  • e-Business (e-Collaboration)

  • Solutions giving the CAD/CAE/CAM engineers the ability to have a distributed, common authoring platform as well as a platform for sharing data, common design, wrapping concepts around ideas...

  • Communications consumes more than a half of business resources in the whole supply chain (“Joule effect”). The operator “e-” is the best opportunity to shortage this waste.

  • Projects:

  • EMOULD: Mouldmaking in an Internet-Worked World (EUREKA E!2620).

  • Social Knowledge Networks for the plastic processing chain (Local funding)

brainstorming "e-business for SMEs in FP6"

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  • e-Business (e-Commerce)

  • It is unavoidable a first stage for paving the way to e-Commerce. In this phase, a well chosen set of web-based solutions must convince our companies that the Internet is a very suitable medium to immerse their workflow (suitable = cost and time saving). Application Service Providing is a good opportunity to serve applications and design interesting business models in this sector.

  • Projects:

  • EuroMetalWeb: eMarketplace for Mechanics and Metallurgic Enterprises (TEN-TELECOM C27267)

  • (private funding)

brainstorming "e-business for SMEs in FP6"

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  • We submitted an EoI called “INTPLAST: Intelligent Decision Support for the Plastic Processing Chain”.

  • This EoI is in evolution and merging with other consortia. We are making efforts in order to define a strong subproject based in the following IST topics*:

  • Technological drivers to advance Agile Manufacturing

  • Knowledge Systematisation and Management

  • Knowledge-Based and Expert Systems

  • Emerging software Standards and distributed, multi-tiered Architectures for CIM Solutions

  • Intelligent Automation and Integration in Flexible Manufacturing

  • Next Generation Manufacturing Systems, Holonic Manufacturing

  • Simulation and Optimisation of Manufacturing Processes, Virtual Factory

  • Operations Research and Logistic Processes

  • Holarchy vs. Hierarchy in Manufacturing Enterprise Organization

  • New Paradigms for Intelligent Manufacturing and Supply Chains

  • The Virtual Enterprise in Manufacturing Networks

  • Manufacturing Business Organisation for the Net-Economy

  • (*) Thanks to our own RTD or to “problem solvers” such as Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, University of Sunderland... Does anyone else accept the challenge?

brainstorming "e-business for SMEs in FP6"

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e-Business for SMEs in FP6

  • An evidence in our sector: SMEs are not taking advantage of IS opportunities as the rest of the big companies in the supply chain do.

  • FP6 ought to strengthen this weakest link of such a supply chain of a very relevant weight in the European economy.

  • National programs must dedicate more efforts to pave the way to the breakthrough and the ambitious technological long-term goals of FP6.

  • Proposed roadmap:

    • Short-term: Foster knowledge-based and collaborative web-based solutions.

    • Mid-term: Rational introduction of intelligent manufacturing and e-Supply Chain Management.

    • Long-term: Automated and e-allianced SMEs perfectly integrated in supply chain and participating in equal opportunities.

brainstorming "e-business for SMEs in FP6"

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T H A N K S !

brainstorming "e-business for SMEs in FP6"