Sharing economy

Sharing economy is a term for a way of distributing goods and services, a way that differs from the traditional model of corporations hiring employees and selling products to consumers. In the sharing economy, individuals are said to rent or "share" things like their cars, homes and personal time to other stakeholders in a peer-to-peer perspective. In the engineering sector, the production resource can be shared among multiple stakeholders, e.g. hardware, software, service, time, personnel, etc. Eventually it provides significant on the resource efficiency, availability and sustainability.

Research area background

Methods to increase resource efficiency is widely recognized as an efficient method to contribute to sustainability targets. A shift in focus from goods delivery towards value creation opens up for business models where suppliers are compensated only for the created value and not for the delivered goods and other resource consumption. According to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the XPRES case contribute in particular to goal 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), 12 (responsible production and consumption), 17 (partnership for goals), 7 (affordable and clean energy), and 13 (climate action)[1].

As identified in the EU Factory of the Future roadmap, Cloud is a feasible solution to realise M2M (Manufacturer-to-Manufacturer) connectivity[2]. From the efficiency’s perspective, for instance, our evaluation on the road design finds that for urban roads where the vehicles have frequent accelerations and deceleration, the optimal road can save up to 22% transportation energy compared with a flat road. For highway roads where vehicles maintain speeds in a small range, the optimal road can save around 3% transportation energy.

Underpinning research

In the past years, the XPRES has been taking the important research challenges in Sharing Economy research including:

  • Sharing Economy on the Cloud: multiple kinds of manufacturing devices, hardware and software can be encapsulated as service packages and shared in a mutual service pool, which is the Cloud. The EU CAPP-4-SMEs project is coordinated by the KTH SPS team, which shares the manufacturing and process planning service on the cloud.
  • Service Level Agreement for Industry 4.0: Embedded Systems research environment at MDH has been working on moving intelligent parts of a factory into the cloud and sharing services among different industrial domains. One important topic in this direction is how to use the Service Level Agreement (SLA) for different industrial applications.
  • Optimal road grade design for minimizing transportation energy consumption by KTH MMK.
  • Benefits have been identified for industries in the Reykjavik area (sharing an cleaning device for cutting sand enables reuse and repurpose of a resource) and for residents on the island of Borkum (coupling PV panels and batteries in a virtual power plant increases utilisation of assets, unburdens grid infrastructure and enables active participation in the energy market) (by RISE IVF).
  • The benefits have been also identified by Volvo CE, reducing manufacturing footprint, increasing production flexibility, and reducing lead-time to customers, and Mälardalen University (MDH), developing digital competence in the design of multi-product assembly systems for the manufacturing industry).

Details of the impact

The Impacts of the Sharing Economy case can be summarised into three categories:

Environmental Impact

Based on the results of the analysis that showed a clear reduction of environmental impacts, efforts were increased to establish a network of industries that use the same auxiliary and share a cleaning device. The environmental impact is reduced through reduced efforts for mining and transport, increased utilisation of an auxiliary flow (also through repurposing in the construction industry) and reduced demand for landfill capacity. The innovation of the road grade design research is to consider the road conditions, particularly the grade angle, as design variables. The total energy consumption of all vehicles running on the road is defined as the objective function. The best road height profile is designed by solving an optimization problem. Application of this method on building road could lead to considerable energy saving.

Social Impact

During the energy case, infrastructure such as battery-charging stations for electric vehicles to be shared by employees, and shared freight solutions were implanted. Among the benefits was also knowledge sharing among companies and with researchers. The sharing activities have further been an important inspiration for the ongoing commercial development model for a patented desalination machine, where the development from the beginning has been carried out with the intention to primarily deliver and sell the value 'Water' and not the desalination machine. After the successful completion of EU CAPP-4-SMEs project, 3 industrial demonstrators are deployed in Spain, UK, and Sweden respectively. They directly promote resource sharing clouds to the European industry and future users. Models and use cases have been investigated and developed to adapt SLA for cloud services to industrial systems considering the technical aspects covering quality of service guarantees and business models together with our industrial partners (ABB, Tetra-Pak, Grundfos, Volvo group and Ericsson).

Educational Impact

In addition, this line of work had a great impact on two PhD courses and one master education module accessible for all the students in Sweden.


References to the research

Wang XV, Wang L, Gördes R, Gordes R (2018) Interoperability in cloud manufacturing: a case study on private cloud structure for SMEs. Int J Comput Integr Manuf 31(7):653–663. X. Liu, Y. Li and L. Wang:“A Cloud Manufacturing Architecture for Complex Parts Machining”, Transactions of the ASME, Journal of Manufacturing Science and Engineering, Vol.137, No.6, pp.061009-061009-12, 2015.

R. Gao, L. Wang, R. Teti, D. Dornfeld, S. Kumara, M. Mori and M. Helu: “Cloud-Enabled Prognosis for Manufacturing", CIRP Annals – Manufacturing Technology, Vol.64, No.2, pp.749-772, 2015.

L. Wang, X. V. Wang, L. Gao and J. Váncza:“A Cloud-Based Approach for WEEE Remanufacturing", CIRP Annals – Manufacturing Technology, Vol.63, No.1, pp.409-412, 2014.

L. Wang:“Machine Availability Monitoring and Machining Process Planning towards Cloud Manufacturing”, CIRP Journal of Manufacturing Science and Technology, Vol.6, No.4, pp.263-273, 2013.

References to corroborate the impact

  • EU CAPP-4-SMEs Project on shared process planning and cloud service.
    Contact: Vincent Wang
  • Sharing and digitized demonstrators in four Volvo Construction sites in Sweden, and one site in Latin America.
    Contact: Erik Flores-Garcia
  • Sharing assest cases (energy sector) far tested for SME actors and consumers/prosumers in remote/island locations.
    Contact: Jutta Hildenbrand