ICT-based solution approach for collaborative delivery of customised products

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César Toscano
Luís Carneiro
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Growing interest on business collaboration motivates today's industries, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to establish and manage dynamic and non-hierarchical business networks to respond to market opportunities with added business benefits. This business environment requires concurrent work and real-time information sharing between key business partners in order to design and develop customised products. The use of traditional communication media such as e-mail, phone and fax is not satisfactory to get real-time information and is time-consuming and most often ineffective. In such environments, an Information and Communication Technology (ICT)/Web-based technology supports real-time information sharing among networked SMEs for the collaborative design and manufacturing of customised products. This study proposes an innovative ICT platform supporting SMEs collaboration, through Web and the Internet of Things technologies, which follows the Net-Challenge conceptual approach and methodological guidelines for SMEs to form and operate virtual organisations for the collaborative development and delivery of customised products. The ICT Platform was assessed in three different industry domains, namely the textile and apparel, the footwear and the machine tools, respectively. This ICT solution promotes collaboration, with substantial advantages for SMEs including the reduction of costs and delivery time and improvement of the innovation potential.