We continue our talks with our work packages. This time we will dive into the work package 2 (WP2), which Adriana Ito from Chalmers is leading, and until a month ago, also led by Dan Li from Chalmers.

Can you describe the value chain you work with in WP2?

In WP2, we follow a specific component, a connecting rod, through the supply chain. First, it is processed at Sansera in Trollhättan. It is then included as a detail in the engine assembled at Volvo Powertrain in Skövde, and the engine is assembled in the trucks at Volvo in Tuve. In addition, we have several technology providers to help develop digital solutions for this value chain. These are Aixia, Empir Industry, HMS Network, KPMG, Microsoft, PTC, and Rockwell Automation.

What are you focusing on in this flow?

After conducting numerous meetings, workshops, Gemba walks, etc., together with the manufacturing companies, we have chosen to focus on quality assurance. To achieve the desired level of quality assurance, there are two factors we have decided to concentrate on: root cause analysis and traceability. With these premises, we have created a list of desired and expected results that the manufacturing companies want to achieve in this project. The technology suppliers were then involved, and we are now working on strategizing a possible technical solution.

Adriana Ito
Adriana Ito

Work Package Manager

Digitala Stambanan Production

A technical solution, you say. Is that what is to be accomplished in WP2? Can you describe it more?

We want to create a digital platform to share data, information, and knowledge along the value chain. We want to future-proof the platform by making it scalable, and design in the capability include more companies and their data, but also we want it to be flexible enough so we can expand with more data types and content over time. In addition, we want the platform to be used by more applications that can take part in the data, information, and knowledge that the platform manages. In simple words, we want to provide a modular solution.

It sounds like you want to show several things in the same solution.

Yes, we want three different modules or applications in the digital platform—the first for managing the traceability of product-related data. The second module shall make relevant information available for root cause analysis by automatically generating pre-populated fishbone diagrams. The third module will help the companies in the value chain to find the right competence and knowledge for each other, which improves and strengthens cooperation and joint problem-solving ability.

What is the next step for you?

Now that the desired picture has been drawn up, the next step is for the technology suppliers to evaluate how they can contribute in terms of competence, hardware, and software. Next, in the work package, we need to consider what is feasible to develop within the framework of this project. Once we know that, we can decide how much progress we can achieve and focus on the prioritized modules.

How do you think the work has progressed so far?

Pretty well. Initially, the manufacturing companies focused on formulating the desired target. With this target picture in place, the technology suppliers have contributed input on what they think would be interesting to include to drive the technological development. Many interesting ideas have emerged in connection with the project activities carried out so far. There is an excellent openness without prestige or competition among the technology providers where the will to cooperate is clear. The consensus-building work has gone well; now, the next challenging step will be to clarify what is required from us to achieve our vision.

What insights have you gained so far?

For manufacturing companies, many things must be implemented for a successful digital transformation. Many technology providers and system integrators have also realized that it is only possible to provide some of the competence alone, but collaboration with others is required. In a project like Digitala Stambanan Produktion, there are many opportunities to learn from each other, which is essential for the participating companies. This has become clear among the manufacturing companies, who share an interest in quality assurance but where digital solutions are mainly lacking. The fact that the technology suppliers see this as interesting and exciting and can contribute means that we positively view the project’s continued work.

Have you encountered any difficulties?

Finding the right level of concretization based on the manufacturing companies’ challenges has been challenging for the project. In the dialogue with the technology suppliers, we initially wanted to keep the conversation open to avoid creating biases and make sure we can maximize their creative thinking. Afterward, we needed to repeat the exercise with an additional level of details to deliver a clear description of the requirements to the technology suppliers. We had to redo it when the technology suppliers wanted more information.

What lessons have you learned so far?

This project involves a larger number of companies and parties than in our previous experience with research projects, which means it takes more discussions and effort to achieve a consensus. In Digitala Stambanan, we have manufacturing and technology providers who together want to find a path to move forward.

Thank you, Adriana! We will follow your continued work with excitement. Good luck!

Digitala Stambanan strengthens the Swedish industry through digitalization of value chains. The project is a collaborative project financed by Vinnova and participating companies. The work is now underway in two tracks through the strategic innovation programs PiiA (Processindustriell IT & Automation), which drives the Digitala Stambanan IndTech project, and Produktion2030, which runs the Digitala Stambanan Production project.