8.07 Digital thread for smart product in service-oriented supply chains

Devis Bianchini
Università degli Studi di Brescia

Sapienza Università di Roma, Università degli Studi di Padova, Leonardo S.p.A., Camozzi Group S.p.A., SCM Group   

8.07 Digital thread for smart product in service-oriented supply chains

Design of new products is getting more and more driven by customers’ requirements. New products must be designed and realized with sustainable materials, produced over low energy production lines and possibly equipped with sensors and printed electronics to monitor their use by customers, to collect data about the product status over its entire lifecycle, for analyzing them and extracting useful insights and feedbacks for further design and manufacturing improvement. We refer to this kind of products as smart products.

This project is focused on the application of ICT technologies for the concrete realization of a smart product through:

  • methods, techniques and tools for the sensorization of products (also with additive printing technologies) in a sustainable way (in terms of energy harvesting solutions and production costs);
  • an holistic digital representation of the products in the cyber-space over its entire lifecycle, modelling and managing data collected during the design, production and logistics in an integrated way instead of independent and separated silos (Digital Thread);
  • a catalogue of data-driven and AI-driven services for the collection, monitoring, visualization of data about the product, information exchange across the supply chain actors, with specific attention on security, data protection and data ownership issues (data sovereignty); services/industrial APIs will be modelled both as atomic software components and as composite services, to implement domain-oriented (i.e., driven by domain knowledge) and demand-oriented (i.e., driven by new customers’ requirements) applications.

The aim of the project is to provide a proof-of-concept framework, i.e., a set of methodological steps and a dedicated platform to guide the application of Digital Thread principles to different use cases that are interesting for the MICS context:

  • sustainable sensorization (also with additive printing technologies) of new mass products in the fashion and appliance domains and collection of data about their usage by customers for the identification of user’s experience issues, that can help to backward improve the design and production of the product itself; let’s consider for example a chair regulation mechanism, that if properly sensorised can be used to collect data feedbacks about how customers use the product and provide different configurations given the characteristics of the user (e.g., habits, type of activity) for the improvement of product usability, their design and production;
  • the collection, management and analysis of data from complex industrial components produced by an Original Equipment Manufacturer (e.g., a smart spindle) over the entire component lifecycle, not only to discover anomalies for predictive maintenance purposes, but also to verify process performances and propose new advanced services to customers (servitization);
  • the integration of available data collected over the product lifecycle and still managed into distinct data silos, and the design of a service-oriented architecture on top of them, for the improvement of production and logistics processes and flexible production, through (on-the-fly) reconfiguration of the production line given changes in the product requirements, operating on the digital twin of the production line and logistics.

The project will enable a methodological approach to the design of smart products, bringing to production chains resilient and sustainable, where the term “resilience” not only refers to the capability of balancing anomalies occurring over the production line, but also the ability of promptly and flexibly react to new emerging customers’ requirements.


The expected results of the project will be a portfolio of models, techniques and methodologies to rule the emerging notion of Digital Thread in different use cases, built around the concept of smart products creation in a sustainable and resilient way, all over the steps of the production and logistics processes. The outcome will be a framework, that is, a set of methods and techniques and a set of methodological steps to demonstrate how to combine different elements, including new materials and techniques to add sensors to smart products, implementation of flexible service-oriented architectures, to improve production and logistics processes, ensure product usability and to implement flexible production.
Specifically, in the 24 months of the project, the following results are expected, organized over the analysis of the state of the art, development of new methods, models and techniques, their integration in a proof-of-concept methodology:

  1. Analysis of the state of the art about methods, techniques and tools for data modelling and analysis, process modelling and orchestration/composition of services in service-oriented architectures for guiding the digital transformation of the factory – months M1-M6 (UNIBS, UNIROMA1)
  2. Analysis of the state of the art about techniques, tools and materials for the “sensor-based” production of “Made in Italy” products (also including additive manufacturing solutions), with a special focus on environmental and production sustainability (i.e., in terms of energy consumption and production costs) – months M1-M6 (UNIBS)
  3. Development of an enhanced Data Model for Digital Thread, able to organize in the cyber-space data about the smart product over its entire lifecycle, the production and logistics processes, the industrial assets involved in the production, with the aim of correlating different data analysis perspectives, ranging from product usability and customers’ experience, product quality control, process performances, industrial assets anomaly detection and predictive maintenance in a holistic way – months M4-M15 (UNIBS, UNIPD)
  4. Development of methods and techniques for sustainable and efficient management of Volume, Velocity and Variety of industrial data, according to a collection, summarization, organization, dispatch, monitor and analysis paradigm – months M4-M15 (UNIBS)
  5. Development of methods and techniques for the design of service-oriented architectures for the digital transformation of the factory, and service orchestration and composition methods and techniques for the development of new demand-oriented and domain-oriented services – months M4-M15 (UNIROMA1)
  6. Definition of a methodology applied to different use cases promoted by industrial partners in the project, to setup the systematic application of developed techniques in real industrial contexts, following a divide-et-impera philosophy – months M13-M24 (all, industrial partners)
  7. Prototypical development of a proof-of-concept dedicated platform (implemented according to a centralised or distributed architecture) for guiding the application of the methodology – months M13-M24 (all, industrial partners)