Supply chains can be complex and often involve the management of a vast range of activities. Some sectors face significant challenges: short shipping times demanded by customers put huge pressure on retailers to solve the last mile problem, getting fresh and perishable goods rapidly into stores remains a key target to maximise shelf life and reduce waste, and consumers are demanding transparency about product sources. Natural disasters and political instability can significantly disrupt the sourcing and transportation of goods, while other regions face challenges because they are remote, lack infrastructure, or are missing important data.
Supply chains relate to every sector, and each has its own challenges. New services could cover:
- Development of unmanned ground, airborne or maritime/fluvial cargo delivery in urban and remote areas.
- Use of new technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things and blockchain, to optimise shipping resources and reduce time delivery and costs.
- Operational energy efficiency improvement, emissions reduction and transition to electric vehicles and semi-automated driving technology. Connected and semi-automated vehicles, truck platooning and AI or Machine Learning (ML) enabled vehicles tracking and tracing for route optimisation can contribute significantly to these objectives.
- Development of enhanced and efficient carbon footprint measurement and reporting to foster eco-labelling scheme deployment and enforcement.
- Use of goods’ unique identifiers, sensing technologies and IoT for real-time goods tracking and tracing.
- Use of distributed ledger technology (i.e. blockchain) for efficiently tracking, aggregating and sharing supply-chain data among the involved stakeholders.
- Development of U-Space services and systems in support to the development of airborne drone (cargo) delivery. U-Space services are aimed at allowing safe, efficient and secure access to airspace for large numbers of drones.
- Use of tracing technologies to enhance the safety and security of goods (from the private and humanitarian sectors) for transport in areas at risks as well as for preventing fraud.
- Use of drones in hard-to-reach rural communities for low-cost and fast delivery of medical supplies, commercial goods, emergency aid, etc.
- Setting-up of remote training tools to promote utilisation of ICT on all aspects of supply chain management.
Supply chain insights
- Use of satellite imagery and complementary data sources to provide unique, timely insights on operations for traders and market analysts.
To find out more on the topics of interest, and also on ENEL smart-chain related challenges, visit this link.
ESA Kick-Start Activities expand on the business opportunity and technical viability of new services that use one or more space assets, like Satellite Communications, Satellite Navigation, and Earth Observation.
This call for Kick-Start Activities is dedicated to the theme "Smart Supply Chain", which means that the call is open to companies that intend to develop space-enabled applications and services to enhance supply chain management.
The "Smart Supply Chain" will be processed by ESA following a competitive tendering procedure, which is tailored to low- to medium-value procurement actions.
The companies selected by ESA for contract award will receive funding and support from the European Space Agency to run a 6-month feasibility study. The aim of the study will be to develop the proposed service by investigating the technical feasibility of the idea, creating a business plan, and engaging with potential customers. Teams can choose to build a proof-of-concept too.
Small-to-Medium companies (SMEs) will receive up to €64,000 of ESA funding (80% ESA co-funding).
Non-SMEs will receive up to €60,000 of ESA funding (75% ESA co-funding).
The main deliverables of the study are:
- Service requirements determined from user engagement
- Service and system architecture definition from the technical feasibility assessment
- Business plan from the economic viability assessment