Several supply-chain ontologies have been introduced in the past decade with the promise of enabling supply chain interoperability. However, the existing supply-chain ontologies have several gaps with respect to completeness, logical consistency, domain accuracy, and the development approach. In this work, we propose a new, supply-chain, reference ontology that is 1) based on an existing top-level ontology and 2) developed using a collaborative, ontology-development, best practice. We chose this approach because empirical studies have shown the usefulness of adopting a top-level ontology both for improving the efficiency of the development process and enhancing the quality of the resulting ontology. The proposed proof-of-concept reference ontology is developed in the context of the Industrial Ontology Foundry (IOF). IOF is an international effort aimed at providing a coherent set of modular and publicly-available ontologies for the manufacturing sector. Although the proposed reference ontology is still at the draft stage, this paper shows that it has already benefited from the collaborative development process that involves inputs from the other working groups within IOF. Additionally, as a way to validate the proposed reference ontology, an application ontology related to a supplier discovery and evaluation use case is derived from the reference ontology and tested.

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