The Smart Shoe-Manufacturing project came into being after selection at a tender procedure launched by the Italian Ministry of Economic Development (MISE) “Major R&D projects in receipt of financing from the Revolving Fund aimed at sustaining enterprise and investments into research (FRI)” falling under the technological purview of Sustainable Industry.

This initiative was driven by our ever-present need to deliver not only quality, but constant innovation for products, services and, more generally, value proposition; these goals are achievable through craftsmanship, sustainability and exclusivity, amongst other things.

As a company, Santoni intends to hone its ability to meet customer needs by designing and manufacturing customer-oriented products which will be offered to the market through its own exclusive sales network.

The project aims to put in place the best possible conditions for creating a lineup and manufacturing system for products to be adapted from the catalogue, thus offering bespoke items inspired by Santoni’s collection. Another phase in this process can be summed up as “see, design and buy” and it involves offering customers the chance to obtain a product that will be further modified to suit their personal specific preferences with a guarantee of minimum time-to-market delay.

Creating a new breed of product like this entails an advanced use of instruments and methods for design/production purposes — ITC technologies falling within the scope of the Industry 4.0 model.

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Customer orientation and bespoke production are two important commonalities that Santoni and future industry share. Attaining high levels of customer satisfaction and delivering made-to-measure items are Santoni’s mission and an essential part of staying competitive on the market.

However, creating personalised high-added-value products and optimising the manufacturing process cannot come about without a comprehensive control over the entire manufacturing cycle and this strict control must originate at the drawing board.

Therefore, the idea is to use technical-commercial CAD-based product configurators able to manage customer personalisation requests and adapt items to the customer’s desires on the store premises. Product specifications (data guided by the configurator and biometrics acquired by special instruments) are then modelled using virtual prototyping and virtual-reality technology specific for the footwear industry and which are based on a thorough understanding of the product and the process. It will be possible to further personalise the various parts of the shoe with 3D printers and build prototypes which are not just geared to function but to aesthetics as well.

Once the customer has decided to go ahead with the purchase, a footwear order will be generated and all the information collected in the store will be transferred to product-and-process-data management instruments connected directly to the production lines. This will improve production organisation standards as well as speeding up information circulation and monitoring activities throughout all product development and manufacturing phases;

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This new business model will be able to integrate personalisation into the smart-factory concept, restructuring warehouses and handling systems used for goods storage but it will also contribute to a customer-centred production process. They will work towards just-in-time coordinated management, smoothly coping with orders for new materials and semi-finished products, and will be equipped with automated loading and unloading systems to narrow margins of error and cut down on handling time.

Furthermore, by merging smart technology with the lean-manufacturing approach, it will be possible to deliver an efficient personalised-production response to needs by means of production lines that can effectively construct micro batches or single pairs with optimised material, product and component flow management. The purpose is to guarantee an extremely tight lead time between the sales order and the delivery of the finished product to the customer as well as to improve the quality of operations and work.

In this respect, the human-centred business model will enhance working procedures and the experience of human capital, contributing to the implementation of functional, performance and technology usability checks for different categories of users.

Lastly, product traceability systems will be introduced throughout the entire manufacturing chain so as to monitor the progress of each single order and manage the post-sales product data. This will enable us not only to offer personalised services but also to trace the materials flow within the various manufacturing departments.

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