Web-Based Portal for Sharing Information through CAD/PLM Software during the Eco-product Development Process
Against the backdrop of increasing global demand for environmentally sustain-able products, the integrated software platform for Green ENgineering dESIgn and product sustainability (G.EN.ESI) project aims to develop a software platform, for use in conjunction with CAD/PLM software, which simplifies the process of integrating environmental and economic requirements into the product development process. A key component of the platform, and the main focus of this paper, is its unique web based supply chain portal that has the ability to obtain information directly from the supply chain. This paper details the work undertaken in the early stages of its development to explore possible portal architectures based on their strategic alignment with goals of firms using it. Based on research and analysis of past and existing supplier portals and data collected through an online survey and a case study, four possible architectures of the web portal were derived using scenario planning and their viability was tested using use cases and wind-tunnelling. The results suggest that although all generated scenarios are viable, the one in which multiple buyers and multiple suppliers interact with a single web portal is the most favourable. The consolidation in buyers and suppliers mitigates any bargain power related issues that might arise, while making way for the possible development of an industry wide information sharing standard for eco-design. Moving forward, the project aims to gain a better understanding of supplier collaboration in new product development through the use of the portal by exploring the nature of the information being shared, the roles that users of the portal play and any competitive conditions associated with the use of the portal.
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