An Open Online Product Marketplace to Overcome Supply and Demand Chain Inefficiencies in Times of Crisis
This article is published as Haapala, Karl R., Kyoung-Yun Kim, Gül E. Okudan Kremer, Rony Kubat, Roy Shilkrot, and Federico M. Sciammarella. "An Open Online Product Marketplace to Overcome Supply and Demand Chain Inefficiencies in Times of Crisis." Smart and Sustainable Manufacturing Systems 4 (2020). DOI: 10.1520/SSMS20200055. Posted with permission.
Digital tools for design and manufacturing have led to a new revolution in how products are conceptualized and made. These advancements have led to the democratization of ideation and creation of personalized products, as well as many other innovations. However, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has exposed a critical flaw in the digital thread: the manufacturing systems of today remain inflexible to rapid changes brought on by emergency and crisis responses. The inefficiencies of this inflexibility caused by disconnects in supply and demand chains have become especially evident. We present a vision for a digital system—an open online product marketplace—that would enable product designers to rapidly connect with capable producers in meeting urgent customer demands. As such, this digital system would facilitate ordering, orchestration, and fulfillment, as well as continuous improvement of manufacturing-as-a-service systems. It would support flexible, sustainable, and resilient supply and demand chains beyond the COVID-19 period by enabling rapid specification matching for tailored or customized products to existing available manufacturing capabilities.