Texprocess: in-company logistics & IT systems in apparel sector
The order is placed – the goods are delivered. Between is a black hole. But what happens there? To make a garment, it is not unusual for around 50 individual items to be brought together or, on occasions, separated during the various manufacturing stages. Given the large number of articles and variations, this is not a trivial matter and calls for a sophisticated logistical system.
This article examines future-oriented ways of solving this problem. To help improve textile logistics, Texprocess, Leading International Trade Fair for Processing Textile and Flexible Materials, will present innovations in the fields of IT and materials handling technology from 24 to 27 May 2011.
Fashion is an attractive, fast-moving business. In-company logistics, which also includes moving goods between the individual operations of a garment-manufacturing company, must not only run smoothly but also be flexible. Software, physical transport and storage must be perfectly matched otherwise the result will be instant chaos.
Contrary to initial impressions, making a man's shirt is not a simple process. For example, 10 sizes times four different fits times three arm lengths times 50 different fabrics and colours equals 6,000 variations on offer. Each variation consists of the face fabric, two interlining fabrics, collar bones, buttons, at least three labels, two types of sewing cotton, cardboard backing, tissue paper, stiffeners, pins / clips, printed bag ... amounting to 15 to 20 individual positions. And then the features can vary according to the design line (Classic, Young Fashion, Casual, etc.).
However, this alone would be too easy for the product managers, so we have to add ties, give-aways, hanging tags, spare buttons, embroidery / prints, etc. And at least two collections are launched every year. Naturally, there are the tried and tested standards – the styles and fabrics – that customers purchase sight unseen. Nevertheless, the spice in the collections, which it is hoped will animate consumers to buy, is the new styles. Currently en vogue are collar stands, cuff linings, back yokes and button flies in materials with contrasting designs.
Goodbye card index?
All of this is far beyond the scope of the good old card index. The state-of-the-art includes sophisticated programmes that, in addition to parts lists, also provide images and inventories, as well as estimates for order and production figures.
Among the standard features are dockets, work specifications, pictures and texts for the internet shop, order confirmations and invoices, not to mention a wide variety of evaluation options. Links to EDIFACT, the international norm for electronic data exchange, are also common in the apparel industry – in West Europe at least. Given the long-standing international entwinement prevailing in the garment-manufacturing industry, the availability of different languages, especially Turkish and Mandarin, is of great benefit.