FURNITURE INDUSTRY

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The AIDIMME Furniture Trial offers a user-centric office furniture renovation considering the experience/sentiments/suggestions of the workers at the office during the whole Product Life Cycle (personalized and customized furniture). Focus is on the product and the later on providing value added services during the whole lifecycle of the furniture.

This Product-Service (PS) bundle aims to create and offer a bundle of PS to the manufacturer´s client joining the furniture manufacturer as product provider and AIDIMME as service provider. In the current scenario, AIDIMME also plays the role of end customer in order to evaluate and test all generated PS. The most relevant features of this Product-Service bundle are: monitoring of the use of the furniture in the working environment, analysis of postural hygiene of the office employees detecting through sensors wrong habits, detection of non-recommended situations at the office environment regarding ambient parameters, collection and analysis of the opinions and sentiment of workers towards the furniture in use, evaluation of the brand value of the customer company from the vision of workers and visitors, social media resources to analyse the furniture market regarding trends and innovation on design, integration of eco-impact information in the decoration projects offered to the end customer (client), generation of reports containing the conclusions of the analysis of parameters described above.

As far as the physical aspects, AIDIMME will provide a system of sensor-workplace to collect values of ambient parameters (light, noise, humidity and temperature) and data about ergonomics of the worker according his/her workplace to be integrated in the design of the new office products. Ergonomics data will be gathered and analysed as well. In order to monitor the ergonomics, the profile of each user is previously introduced in the system indicating values for required specific anthropomorphic parameters. This functionality is mainly oriented to the worker so it improves the postural hygiene and comfort of the users at the office environment.

The emotional area of the Product-Service is focused on the sentiment of the workers at the office and the brand value perception of the customer company. Questionnaires are used to collect feedback from internal and external people such as visitors. The evaluation is performed by comparing data collected from users with objectives previously defined by the company Management. Furthermore, the perception of users in social media about the company is analysed. All these functionalities of the new Product-Service enable the office furniture producer to generate improved project office decoration proposals to their customers.

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The 5 PSYMBIOSYS tussles

On the way from traditional products towards Product-Service combinations various obstacles have to be overcome. Each of them goes along with significant risks and requires therefore thorough investigations which have to be done individually for each application context. Within PSYMBIOSYS 5 categories of such problem areas have been identified. They are called tussles (reflecting a kind of conflict situation) and will be briefly addressed in the following

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The scenario promotes the offering of a new service to the customer combined with the produced goods, which is often a missing point currently in the industry. The furniture Product-Service bundle is based on a collection of specific products and services combinations mainly oriented to improve the quality of the products offered to the customers and in this way their satisfaction.

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The analysis of the workplaces at the office environment during the real use of the furniture enables the detection of improvements in the design of these items, affecting the Design-Manufacturing processes. The integration of sensors in the workplace drives to new specific manufacturing processes to accommodate all the required electronics in the furniture, mainly office tables and chairs. Also, the integration of main environmental impact aspects during the early design phase has a direct influence later to the furniture manufacturing processes.

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The scenario also covers the Service Oriented – event driven tussle, so on one hand, the use of the furniture elements is analysed enabling the tracking of the furniture during the use stage of the product lifecycle at least. On the other hand, the digital representation of the products before being manufactured and installed in the customer facilities, provides a real-digital vision of environments which is used, among others, by the end users in order to rate the solutions proposed by the manufacturer.

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The furniture P-S bundle includes services including mechanisms to retrieve the sentiment of the employees of the customer company regarding the use of the furniture, in order to analyse it to generate a much better renovation solution to the customer, addressing the Knowledge – wisdom tussle. Also mechanisms to collect and analyse the brand value of the company are offered. This includes the analysis of the deviation between the brand value perception in the real world and the image of the values that the company aims to convey to its customers. Users are also capable of being involved in the selection of furniture elements from the furniture renovation solution presented by the manufacturer.

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The furniture P-S bundle enables the entrance of a new market niche for the office furniture sector. This means a new Business-innovation strategy. The introduction of hardware and software components as well as the implementation of mechanisms to involve workers through collecting their sentiment and perception means relevant innovations in this sector of the industry. A new business model approach arises by joining AIDIMME, as technical service provider, with the furniture manufacturer providing the physical products. This means an added value for both, AIDIMME and furniture producers, so they have available much more information about its customers as end users, offering them better quality solutions at the end.

Technical challenges

Representation of the technical solutions focused on the Physical area

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Representation of the technical solutions focused on the Emotional area

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The Product-Service involves various technical challenges. Main actors in the scenario are (i) the furniture manufacturer that designs the new office, (ii) the company client that buys the furniture, and (iii) the workers of the office who use them.

The capture and analysis of data coming from sensors about the ambient and ergonomics at the workplaces is one of them. This system manages notifications to users when not recommended situations are detected, such as an excessive warm environment or bad lightning at the office. Regarding this, the manufacturer aims to include this technology in new products based on new designs, which means a new Product-Service offer to its customers.

Also, data retrieved from the sensors at workplaces are useful for the client company to improve the distribution of the elements at the office, increasing the comfort of the workers. Ergonomics are analysed mainly by pressure and distance sensors and this is monitored based on the user profile previously registered in the system, which also includes anthropomorphic parameters. This functionality, mainly oriented to the worker, improves the postural hygiene and comfort of the employees at the office.

Specific questionnaires are used to collect the emotional aspects from workers and the brand value of the client company. The system collects the sentiment of the workers at their workplaces considering their experience in the use of the furniture. The brand value is analysed based on an initial definition performed by the company management, according to a set of selected dimensions. Data collected from employees and visitors are compared with this initial definition to perform the analysis.

The client company is able to participate in the definition of the office renovation project considering the brand value perceptions and the sentiment of the employees. Furthermore, the ideation platform enables the analysis of ideas coming from PS designers and workers. Also, the crowd innovation platform supports them considering the crowd sentiment, the market trends, and how they relate to the previous defined ideas.

All these functionalities allow the definition of improved furniture renovation solutions for working environments involving end users who become key actors in the entire process.

Who we are

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AIDIMME is the merge of the Technology Institute on Furniture, Wood and Packaging (AIDIMA) and the Technology Institute for the metal-mechanic (AIMME), in April 2016. AIDIMA was founded in 1984 to contribute to increase the competitiveness in the Spanish sector for the furniture, wood, packaging and related industries, especially in all aspects related to quality, technological innovation, training, information, security, and environment. AIDIMME is a private, non-profit organization created to improve the management in the areas of design, production, marketing, and to empower of export activities. Its associated companies are one of the most important values of the organization, which is one of the most recognized Technological Centers in the world. Among its different activities are: Research and Technological Development and Innovation Programs (R&D), Design and development of products, Standardization and certification, Quality and security, Environmental, Logistics and process technology, Packing and transportation of goods, Information technologies, Training, Information, Market analysis and strategy, Advice, consulting and advance services, Cooperation, Internationalization, Dissemination and technological transfer.

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The National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) is the oldest and most prestigious educational institution of Greece in the field of engineering sciences, and has contributed unceasingly to the country's scientific, technical and economic development since its foundation in 1836. The Decision Support Systems Laboratory (DSSLab) of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering in NTUA, that participates in the PSYMBIOSYS project, is a multidisciplinary scientific unit that operates for more than 25 years and offers research services, through its participation in research and innovation projects, as well as educational services in the framework of under-graduate and post-graduate programmes. The research conducted within the DSSLab pursues novel methods, tools and infrastructure related, amongst others, with hard to tackle issues and aspects around the social inclusion and engagement of end-users and customers in the complete product/service lifecycle and the extraction of user-generated content in order to deliver intuitive and advanced analytics that provide insights on trends and customer preferences while boosting business productivity.