Boosting supply chain resilience

Darmstadt, 06 April 2023

The new Horizon Europe project Flex4Res supports the European manufacturing industry in the flexible reconfiguration of production processes. 17 partners from six countries have started working on the project.

Today’s supplier networks are complex, multi-layered and interconnected. This makes them vulnerable to disruptions from unpredictable events such as cybersecurity attacks, financial crises or global pandemics, but also from climate change. As a result, manufacturers are rethinking and reassessing their global supply chains and strive to make their production sites more flexible. The new Horizon Europe project Flex4Res focuses on strengthening the resilience of the European manufacturing industry by enabling manufacturers to withstand and recover faster from disruptions.

17 partners from six countries, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Luxemburg and Spain, have joined forces in the EU project Flex4Res. They have started working on developing an open platform for secure and sovereign cross-company data exchange. Accompanied by two toolboxes, one for resilience assessment and one for reconfiguration planning, this will enable manufacturers to reconfigure supply chains and production lines fast and efficiently.

The open framework serves as the foundation of the concept: Based on the latest Gaia-X framework, IDS Reference Architecture Model (IDS-RAM) and Asset Administration Shell (AAS) technology, the project team will implement an industrial data space for sharing Digital Twin models of production facilities that are stored in AAS middleware. Knowledge-based and easy-to-integrate smart tools from the toolboxes will complete the concept and support users with recommendations for corrective actions so that they can make smarter decisions regarding their systems from a resilience perspective.

Flex4Res Concept
The concept of the new research project Flex4Res: A cross-company data exchange to ensure agile responses to disruptions along the supply chain.

“With Flex4Res we have the opportunity to connect stakeholders across the entire supply chain and enable them to manage different types of disturbances through a trusted and secure way of data sharing – without interoperability barriers,” says Kosmas Alexopoulos, Senior Research Engineer at Laboratory for Manufacturing Systems & Automation (LMS). “At the same time, we ensure the transfer of expertise in highly complex production processes by building a knowledge-based system in which sensor information can be combined with the knowledge of machine experts.”

Flex4Res is funded with around eight million euros as part of the Horizon Europe program. It is one of currently five projects within the growing ecosystem around the manufacturing-centred Gaia-X lighthouse project EuProGigant.

Tackling challenges of the industry

With its four use cases, the Flex4Res project team addresses different types of manufacturing systems and focuses on various hierarchical layers. Different disciplines will be brought together in each use case to develop solutions for flexible supply chains. These tasks will include:

  • a Flex4Res software platform for AAS connection through IDS towards reconfigurable manufacturing value chains.
  • a resilience toolbox for assessing threats and opportunities and support of decision making for the application of reconfiguration strategies.
  • publications of scientific achievements in different fields of research.
  • training and skills development for adopting best practices in reconfiguration.

Share this post