Standardisation and Interoperability in the Textile Supply Chain Integrated Networks

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TexWeave at CEN/ISSS

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Texweave and standardisation

Texweave and standardisation

The recent document produced by CEN/ISSS, CEN/ISSS report and recommendations on key eBusiness standards issues 2003-2005 is supporting the vision of a common framework, based on the ebXML specifications, that has vertical sectorial implementations (presently there are sectorial WSs about the building sector, footwear, and the Textile Clothing sector).

ebXML and sector specific actions of standardisation (together with awareness creation and horizontal functions like eBES, eBIS, e-Payments, eCat...) are key choices that the CEN/ISSS has put in its strategies and that Euratex follows up with interest.

On the other hands, the work of CEN/WS eBES, about the ebXML specifications, that has an ‘horizontal’ approach by definition, has put in evidence that ebXML is a powerful (and well accepted) methodological framework (a meta-framework) whose function is to define how to work to create ‘local’ frameworks for the B2B, and the sectorial approach is considered one of the most relevant (together with horizontal functionality such as assurance, e-banking, e-payments...).

This approach, which emphasises the vertical/sectorial standardisation activity, is thought to have a drawback (the risk of fragmentation and loss of intersectorial interoperability) - but has a recognised and clear advantage that is a better capacity of diffusion, especially towards SMEs that cannot afford the effort to adapt the general frameworks by themselves.

It is worth to recall some of the statements of the CEN/ISSS “Report and recommendations on key eBusiness standards issues 2003-2005”, written by the “CEN/ISSS eBusiness Standards Focus Group”.

About the sectorial approach to the standardisation initiatives the document states that:

“Sectorial issues add a further degree of complexity to the creation of B2B standards while their diffusion could be partially simplified. In fact:

  • At sectorial level it is easier to create and share common semantic (semantic dictionaries) and "libraries» of business models from which companies can derive the solutions for their needs;
  • Large frameworks, like ebXML, require a huge amount of analysis and design activities; in the area of a highly fragmented industrial sectors where there is no (group of) market leader(s), able to force his solution, industry trading organizations and other associations could play an important role in the creation of common dictionaries and basic knowledge that could be used for further exploitation;
  • In a sectorial approach electronic transactions include an increasing technical content (transactions related to processing of goods are often very detailed); these require dictionaries with many terms (having often different meaning in different production environments — also sometimes in countries or regions).Common semantics (semantic interoperability) is a necessity;
  • At sectorial level, the availability of free demonstrative software might be appropriate to support the creation of interfaces and processes particularly suitable for the sector applications.”

From the same document, the section “what is left to do” affirms that:

  • Methodological research activities to move the focus of B2B standards on dictionaries and building rules instead of rigid documents; new methodologies and technologies should facilitate the creation of easy to use set of documents, vertically specialized but with a flexible solution for the relationship between vertical and horizontal frameworks;
  • Focus on scalable frameworks; very low entry threshold, that allows companies to begin the game and then to decide to fully exploit the opportunity (and complexity) of the framework;
  • Availability of low cost or freeware entry 'Lego' bricks (i.e. also the recommendations on Open Source). They should be the entry point of the framework, should refer to standardized (and simple) modelling of the (sectorial) B2B co-operation; they should be thought as the first step of a path for the technology suppliers and their customers to understand the framework and to embed the concepts and technologies in their own products (that, after, will offer much more sophisticated and complete implementation based on the standard).

This requires, anyway, investments (publicly funded) addressed to

  • foster the adoption of standards, supporting a widespread adaptation of the existing systems for vertical sector (presently the public funding policies are not addressed to the dissemination of standards);
  • promote an operative knowledge in the technology suppliers about the (use of the) frameworks (dissemination events, training, eLearning courses);
  • improve methodologies and technologies of "Standard factory" focused on vertical issues.”
  • And the document then concludes, about sectorial support to standardization, which is recommended to:

    • "identify a variety of sector specific (with a good granularity) models of collaboration between firms and their common components;
    • support the creation of common public knowledge models and repositories;
    • Trans-sectorial co-operation;
    • promote the development of specifications (and demonstration of) free software supporting common aspects of the collaboration processes in a common peer-to-peer open architecture;
    • create awareness about HOW to implement and embed both technological and semantic interoperability towards the sector specific technology suppliers and advisors.
    • expand CEN/ISSS' programme of sector specific workshops to cater for domain specific requirements within one, open and scalable, interoperable framework.”


Contenuto realizzato nel corso del workshop CEN/ISSS TexWeave (www.texweave.org)


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