Reference framework for enhanced interoperable collaborative networks in industrial organisations

Ricardo Luís Rosa Jardim-Gonçalves, Carlos Agostinho, João Sarraipa, António Carlos Bárbara Grilo, João P. Mendonça

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Industrial collaborative networks are characterised by heterogeneous business processes and data structures. Enterprises joining these networks face difficulties when they have to manage and orchestrate information within the network, namely due to the lack of interoperability between the systems and software applications operating between them. The furniture industry is the largest manufacturing sector in the world, involving mostly small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The development of collaborative networked environments in this industrial sector has been identified of major importance, looking forward to enabling enterprises to extend the potential of their own business capabilities. Indeed, to keep its competitiveness, industry needs to accomplish rapidly the requirements in the digital global marketplace, and push promptly SME-based enterprises to adopt seamless electronic business services in networked environments, using modern ICT and standards among all agents involved in the furniture product life cycle. The funStep case study presented in this article developed a framework to accelerate the integration of enterprises in collaborative working environments, solving information interoperability problems in the furniture supply chain. The funStep framework enables gradual and sustained system interoperability, allowing incremental implementations using conformance options and classes. The funStep created an ISO standard which defines a formal structure for catalogue and product data under industrial domains of the furniture sector. Then, the ICT combined with the use of open-standards, and enriched by semantics representation, resulted in a suitable tool to improve enterprise competitiveness via a wider adoption of STEP Application Protocols in collaborative environments. Model Driven Architecture technology is used to enable automation of Model Morphisms, and therefore, translation at the information model and data levels. A reference ontology integrated in the standard product data model, permits an intelligent management at semantic level, providing enhanced capabilities for interoperability. The results of the case study presented stimulate enterprises on the adoption of technologies and practices to reach the future vision of furniture manufacturing business based on collaborative networked environments. It prepares industry and researchers to advance on the state of the art, and to establish solid proposals for the industry in general. The funStep case study has been validated by the industry, supported by European/International industrial research projects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-182
JournalInternational Journal Of Computer Integrated Manufacturing
Issue numberSI1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


  • Collaboration
  • Interoperability
  • MDA
  • Model transformations
  • Standards
  • Systems integration


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