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Using distributed ledger technology to support the manufacture of highly personalised FMCG in European fab labs

Digital Catapult is part of the DIY4U project, working to deliver an end-to-end digitally supported supply chain for the design and delivery of consumer-personalised FMCG products.

DIY4U involves the development of an open innovation digital platform and fab labs for collaborative design and production of personalised goods. The project will accelerate and de-risk the development and adoption of open innovation and fab lab approaches for the collaborative design and manufacture of customised particulate and liquid-based detergent products.

The DIY4U open access model and collaborative platform will facilitate exchange of knowledge in a previously high risk innovation space. The web-based portal will allow users to design their own products using a broad range of attributes (not just colour or fragrance, for example). While DIY4U technologies will be applicable to all ‘soft matter’ FMCG, detergents and soaps have been chosen for the initial development.

Fab labs (digitally-enabled small-scale manufacturing machines, workshops or factories) will then be used for on-demand production of the new personalised or customised item designed using the DIY4U digital platform.

The platform will use a hybrid distributed network combined with secure multi-party computation protocols. The private permissioned network will deal with sensitive data, while the public network will hold data that can be shared with everyone. This approach will open a world of use-cases for integrating the output with digital formulation design tools, including soft matter modelling, process simulation tools and digital twins, cost and environmental modelling capability, and artificial intelligence/data analytics capability.

DIY4U will lead to more agile responses to changes in demand, further benefiting consumers and the society. The generic nature of technologies (such as multi-party process engineering DLT, plug in features and interoperability of modules) integrated in the DIY4U digital platform will make it easy to transfer to other sectors. The fab lab generic approach can also be applied to a wide range of FMCG as well as other soft matter products.

As the blockchain and distributed systems experts within the consortium, the Digital Catapult team is responsible for:

  • Working to understand user needs and requirements as they relate to the design of platform architecture, taking into account the centralised and decentralised elements of the solution to enable efficient and trusted relationships between stakeholders
  • Taking an advisory role during platform development, making sure that design requirements are being met
  • Supporting dissemination and exploitation actions (especially with the blockchain and manufacturing communities)
  • Running the FMCG open innovation community to bring relevant stakeholders together and identify research and business opportunities
  • Running workshops to identify new business models emerging for start-ups and collaborators

This project will enhance the innovation capacity and competitiveness of the European FMCG sector through decentralised customer-centric production approaches, making Europe a leader in the global FMCG industry of the future. The transition from large-scale factory manufacturing via industrial companies to the do it yourself (DIY) approach will stimulate the creation of transformative engineering solutions across the entire European value chain.