April 23, 2020

The Smart Connected Supplier Network by TNO

Increasing productivity in the supply chain. The Smart Connected Supplier Network (SCSN) is one of the most promising use cases based on IDS components.
Matthijs Punter

Digital collaboration in the supply chain is one of the goals of Smart Industry, the Dutch national Industry 4.0 programme. However, it is not easy to link ICT systems between companies, especially covering the supply network as-a-whole. Current practice shows that many companies solve this manually: Employees transfer information from an incoming order into their own system. SCSN is a communication standard enabling the machine building industry to share data across company borders in an easier, safer, and more reliable way.

SCSN is led by IDS-member Brainport Industries, sector organization for the Dutch high-tech supply sector and supported by TNO. TNO is an independent research organization in The Netherlands participating in the IDS Launching Coalition.

Manual data management is prone to errors

Brainport Industries focuses specifically on the so-called low volume and high mix, high complexity machine building industry. The success of the supply chains in this industry increasingly depends on sharing large amounts of data across company borders.

Especially for SMEs that have a central role in these supply chains, receiving and sending data is not automated. This means that data received from their customers must be read, interpreted, and usually entered manually in their own ERP system. This often takes a lot of time and is prone to errors.

SCSN enables the automatic flow and processing of data. There are also strict agreements about the semantics of the messages, so that there is only one way to interpret them.

SCSN solves the disadvantages of EDI and cloud services 

Nowadays, a lot of data is exchanged between two companies via an EDI link. If a company wants to exchange data with a new partner, it will have to set up a new EDI connection. This is not necessary with SCSN. Companies must register once with an SCSN Service Provider and can exchange data with all other affiliated companies in the production chain, such as orders, invoices, technical product data, etc. It is therefore not necessary to connect to each company separately.

Using cloud connections to exchange data in between companies often means that data is stored outside the company and becomes visible to the cloud service provider. With SCSN, a company keeps a grip on its own data; it determines which data is shared with whom. The use of SCSN results in higher productivity of the supply chain through fast, secure, and interoperable exchange of information between companies.

Benefits of SCSN

  • Connect once, communicate with the entire supply chain.
  • SCSN works for the OEM, 1st, 2nd and 3rd suppliers, wholesalers and steel producers and works with most available ERP software.
  • Manufacturing companies in control over their own data all the time.

Technological architecture or IDS components used

Technical infrastructure in which it is agreed how the information can be shared in a safe and controlled manner, based on IDS.

  • Messaging standard in which it is agreed which information is shared in what format; based on the UBL from OASIS, known as standard ISO / IEC 19845: 2015.
  • SCSN fits seamlessly with the e-Invoicing agreements of the European Commission. SCSN messages can be viewed publicly via the Semantic Treehouse management environment. A public process guide is also available on GitBook.
  • Technical infrastructure in which it is agreed how the information can be shared in a safe and controlled manner, based on IDS.

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Author: Matthijs Punter
Matthijs Punter is Researcher Data Science & Smart Industry at TNO

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