The present discussion summarises the benefits provided with resort to IT instruments, by dealing with the delivery of extended artefacts, under the responsibility of extended enterprises. In view to establish the IT environment, one needs to address the market paradigm-shift, from earlier commodity- to mainly utility-based economics, having supply chains concerned by products-services, where the latter delivering often outruns the former. Outstripping the pertinent material flows, effectiveness quickly turns on the information flows, supported by networked organisations and cooperative set-ups, with mainly, a twofold outcome: (1) value added in totally new provisions, enhancing the supply effectiveness; (2) value added to the joined information and related transparency of overall environmental impact. Ambient intelligence is technology-driven opportunity based on the user friendly exploitation of ubiquitous computing and communication (Riva, Vatalaro, Davide, & Alcañiz, 2005; Stephanidis, 2001; VanLoenen, 2003). Turning ambient intelligence toward collaboration activities and eco-compatibility certifying duties could be the winning option to support enterprise competitiveness, privacy protection and eco-system safeguard through cooperative organisations. The involved IT aids basically will move from the existing World Wide Web capabilities, enhancing the extended enterprise, with the qualifying functions of service engineering, and fitting out the on-duty incumbents by users’ adaptive interfaces.
The IT options grant new prospects, as for manufacturing and market organisation, leading to new traded items, products-services or extended artefacts, by means of new industrial set-ups, the networked facilities. Indeed, the recalled concepts lead to address the ambient intelligence and the supporting IT processing Web options for enterprise cooperation and business deployment according to an innovative scenario to grant competitive advantage of richer or enhanced delivery with lifecycle transparent eco-conservativeness. This scenario corresponds to a shared vision aiming at development sustainability based on key aspects (Figure 1) where product on-duty properties and enterprise point-of-service responsibility are transparently reported, assuring the eco-impact data management under third-party certification.
Key aspects of the information frame for sustainability
The information set-up consistent with the sketched scenario faces two conditioning lines:
technical feasibility incumbents, which can be dealt with by suitably implemented IC innovative aids;
politico-legal and socio-economical hindrances, which will evolve with sustainability consciousness.
Along the first line, the technical literature (Abowd, 2004; Ailisto, Kotila, & Strömmer, 2003; Ameri &Dutta,2004; Dekker & Scarf, 1998; Garetti, 2004; Michelini &Kovacs, 2005), deals with the networked infrastructure technology, namely, the IT aids that need be added to the supply chain for lifecycle management. These are enabling support of product data visibility and eco-consistency assessment, once politico-legal and socio-economical pertinent rules are established. The coherent description of the product impact, over the operation horizon, including reverse logistics, needs address the consumable decay, explicitly making account of involved natural resources.
The approach leads, for instance, to the KILT model (Michelini, Acaccia, Callegari, Molfino, & Razzoli, 1999; Michelini & Razzoli, 2004a, 2004b) linking the delivery, Q, of the manufacture activity to the four inputs corresponding to all contributed capitals, say:
Key Terms in this Chapter
Service Engineering, SE: The activity that deals with improving the design process of the service, supplied with the extended artefacts, developing and implementing the duties, which assure maintenance, restoring and conformance assessment on the lifecycle.
Extended Artefact or Product-Service: Any supply joining manufactured commodities and enabling utilities. Artefact : any object made by man, especially with a view of subsequent use; something made with skill.
Interoperability: The ability of two or more systems, subsystems, products, or applications to work together and/or share information or inputs and outputs.
Product Lifecycle Management, PLM: The process of, or a system for, managing all data about a product as it moves through the all lifecycle, from materials provision, to on-duty requirements and dismissal.
Condition Monitoring Maintenance (CMM): The maintenance intervention applies once the product state is recognised; it needs support of special diagnostics and prognosis tools and sophisticated knowledge-based systems.
Ambient Intelligence (AmI): is the convergence of ubiquitous computing, ubiquitous communication, and interfaces adapting to the user; it relies on provisioning ubiquitous computing (i.e., useful and unobtrusive presence of computing devices everywhere).
Natural Language: Ordinary human language; unlike precisely defined computer languages, it is often ambiguous and is thus interpreted differently by different hearers.
Net Concern or Extended Enterprise: A group of companies that work together and act as a single business entity to satisfy a particular set of customer needs.