Essence Project 103

ESSENCE ePlatform – Invisible Enterprise Power

Innovation constitutes the key driver for socio-economic development of the regions. The Wielkopolska region adheres to this global trend basing on the current intellectual potential of its inhabitants and rich tradition, which is manifested by active involvement of the Self--Government of the Wielkopolska Region in encouraging pro-innovative attitudes in each domain of our lives by, among others, supporting development of innovative enterprises, developing new technologies and R&D projects and cooperation platforms for science, education and economy.

The Marshall Office of the Wielkopolska Region, acting as the ESSENCE project Lead Partner, bases its activities within the international cooperation on partnership of public and private institutions from Poland, Italy, Germany, Austria, Hungary and Slovenia. The ESSENCE project partners support local/regional public authorities and recognized stakeholders in their role of eBusiness, Networking and Logistics innovation leaders under their promotional policy for ICT solutions dedicated to economic development and environmental protection.

At the dawn of the second decade of the 21st century, the logistic sector faces the challenges of modeling and planning of distributed process, aggregate transport and exception handling. These challenges are successfully addressed by the eService based ESSENCE platform, being the key product of this project.

Specification of the ESSENCE ePlatform

Within the ESSENCE project, the European entrepreneurs are provided with a platform dedicated to building and managing their own supply network. Searching for the suppliers or subcontractors may be made by the company’s name, country of origin, negotiation language as well as services or products provided in the catalogue. The platform helps is connecting the product or service with the suppliers providing transport or delivery services. Thanks to ESSENCE, the platform user may establish contact with the contractor, schedule the activities necessary to deliver the order and provide access to the order to the potential suppliers.  The platform software enables also generation of the transport order, route planning and selecting the best carrier.

 

The users from the six regions of Europe, in which the ESSENCE platform was tested, identified its most useful functionalities, including easy communication between the contractors publishing eCatalogues of products and services presented to the wide audience of potential purchasers. The other appreciated key functionalities include shaping the ‘what-if’ network and availability of eServices for distributed process modeling. Thanks to all these features, the ESSENCE software enabled optimization of transport service purchase by the enterprises, thus reducing the operating costs.

ICT solutions as the key to success

Deployment of ICT technologies has significantly enhanced both competitiveness and financial results of SMEs. Also the European Community Member States introduced their own solution. Collaboration of as much as ten partners in six European regions under the ESSENCE project resulted in development of the eBusiness support platform. Establishing the Easy eServices to Shape and Empower SME Networks in Central Europe, to which ESSENCE owes its name, required contribution of the universities, institutions, foundations, administrative authorities and regional representatives.

Global development of the TSL sector (Transport - Shipping - Logistics) contributes to the EU’s economic growth. In its Transport 2050 Roadmap to a Single Transport Area document, the European Commission stated that the effective transport systems are the key measure for international economic competitiveness of the individual countries. The key focus of the TSL processes must be on enhanced efficiency, since current logistic costs cover 10-15% of the finished product, while the entrepreneurs should adopt the most effective model for supply network coordination and use the necessary eServices. Implementing innovation may translate into improved flexibility to dynamic market conditions and enhanced profitability. The ESSENCE project attempts to solve the problems related to development and implementation of the new organizational models, intelligent eServices and know-how transfer. It is targeted on the entrepreneurs from the industrial sector forming a part of the supply chains. It encourages development of collaboration-based environment, within which the individual enterprises support each other in business objectives delivery, maintaining at the same time their own independence.

European project in light of process management specifics

The SME sector enterprises develop the networks covering business partners from different regions of Europe. Trans-national collaboration enables them expanding the logistic and transport service outlets. At the same time, most of them operate within a supply chain acting both at the contracting entity and subcontractor.

The assumption of the ESSENCE project is solving four critical issues of concern faced by the network distribution model: a) static network configuration, which usually fails to involve the best available partners; b) lack of objective assessment criteria in assigning tasks (customs instead of business reasons); c) no transport optimization and cost measurement; d) slow and non-monitored information exchange within the network.

Previous applications for the shipping sector enterprises

The TSL sector has been currently supported by a range of innovative solutions, including both applications for stock control and more comprehensive software for single or multiple contractor order delivery management.

More comprehensive applications include the programmes for order delivery process and transport enterprise resources management. SkayLogic by Benson Consultants is worth noticing. This system has embedded modules for logistic structure management, fleet management, complete order handling and communication, including SMS notification system, settlements and analytics. Additional SkayLogic’s applications include digital maps and GPS. The distinguishing feature of SkayLogic is the Capacitated Vehicle Routing Problem with Time Windows – CVRPTW solution for marking optimal vehicle routes along with information on area optimization and vehicle requirements. One of the technical partners of the ESSENCE programme is the Poznan Institute of Logistics and Warehousing (ILIM), developer of multiple solutions supporting the TLS sector. ILIM’s development include, among others, the MonZa system, proposing freight purchases on the basis of automatic sales forecasts and creating supply schedules. The other supply chain optimizing solutions of the ILIM are T-Scale and T-Traco platforms. The other worth mentioning Polish solutions include the Smart@Supply company platform, awarded (such as Xmag and SkayLogic) in the ‘Innovative Product for Logistics’ competition. The tool supports handling contract award procedures and orders and enhances development of quality profile of the suppliers, available on-line for all contractors.

ESSENCE for Poland

According to Eurostat data, Poland has already gained the leader position in the international transport sector. In 2013, Poland took the second rank from among 28 EU Member States in terms of consignment size in the vehicle transport[1]. The ESSENCE platform addresses growing demand for such tools.

The Polish transport sector is dominated by small companies. One third owns app. four vehicles and one fourth owns five to ten vehicles. Vehicle fleet of only 15% consists in 11 - 20 vehicles. One sixth TSL sector entrepreneur operates the fleet of 21 to 50 vehicles [2]. These enterprises usually search for contractors on popular freight exchanges. Efficient use of load capacity and route optimization are among their key issues of concern.

One should emphasize that the benefits derived from the platform do not limit to shopping, logistic or transport companies only. The tool is dedicated also from the other enterprises, e.g. from the textile sector (supporting operation of design companies, weaving or ironing departments) or construction sector (encouraging development of the network of enterprises involved in construction and finishing works at any building process stage). 

The ESSENCE tool, developed within international cooperation led by the Marshall Office of the Wielkopolska Region, is a universal solution, which may be applied in any supply chain-based sector.

 

[1] Transport - wyniki działalności w 2013 r., (Transport - operational results in 2013) [In:] stat.gov.pl, 29.08.2014, http://stat.gov.pl/obszary-tematyczne/transport-i-lacznosc/transport/transport-wyniki-dzialalnosci-w-2013-r-notatka-informacyjna,13,1.html

[2] Transport pod lupą, raport 2013, (Focus on Transport, 2013 report), European Modernisation Programme of Polish Companies, http://www.efl.pl/aktualnosci/Transport_raport.pdf

 

Central Europe Cooperating for successEuropean Union European Regional Development Fund
This project is implemented through the CENTRAL EUROPE Programme co-financed by the ERDF.