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Modular software platform design for supporting a Circular Supply-Chain
In a circular economy system two main types of actors can be differentiated: stakeholders and end users. Stakeholders are those who are involved in designing, manufacturing and re-processing materials, parts and products with the objective to keep them in the circular supply chain as long as possible. End users are those who use the final product for the purpose it has been designed for and once the end of life has arrived have to decide which is the path to be followed by the product. For a circular economy model to succeed, the sharing and exchanging of information between the different actors is needed. A proper design stage taking into account manufacturers, recyclers and disassemblers feedback as well as user expectations is crucial to create a circular product, and this happens with all the stages the product go through. In this paper a platform to achieve the data interconnection between stakeholders and end-users is presented. This platform includes a SQL Database, an innovative Quality Assurance System, a Tracking, Labelling and Reverse Logistics System, a Decision Support System and an End-user and Stakeholder platform. The Database Management System will enable the collection, analysis and store of performance and operational data obtained from product designs, manufacturing, services, logistics and (re-)manufacture and recycle processes as well as data for material stream flows, composition and effectiveness of technologies for material production. The services will tackle process integration for characterising the complex interactions between unit operations systems and will enable the generation of predictive engineering models to guide process optimization, process control, resources use and closing the entire loop. The Quality Assurance System and the Decision Support System will enable stakeholders to process the data produced in the supply chain and provide quality standards and support to the path decision a product should follow to efficiently close the loop. Reverse logistics options to collect products at its end of life and distribute them among stakeholders will be included and all the information regarding product history and properties will be available in an innovative labelling system. An End-user and stakeholder platform will provide access to the specific services such as logistics, decision support, quality assessment and materials information, linking relevant stakeholders along the supply and value chain. The platform presented above is developed as a modular solution consisting on three blocks: Database, User Interfaces and Algorithmic. This structure enables the customization of any of the blocks, adding or modifying functionalities to suit a wide range of circular economy situations. This modular software platform will favour upgrade, refurbishment, re-use and recycling of products, parts and materials minimizing the leakage from the circular supply chain. It will bring the end-user closer to design, production, service, collection and end of life phases. It is an effective tool to introduce the circular economy model into nowadays society and will help to create a circular thinking of products and materials enhancing second life options of the discard a product that still has value for the supply chain and the economy.