The overwhelming majority of apparel and soft goods brands lack real-time visibility into production operations. Even companies that benefit from the streamlined automation of a real-time ERP system might see that automation end at the shop floor, if they don’t also utilize a real-time, integrated Shop Floor Control MES solution.
Many brands use third-party manufacturing (3PM), and in the past, contractors may have been reluctant to make the investment in shop floor automation. However, as Shop Floor Control MES solutions have become more affordable, the return on investment has become very rapid—as little as two to six months. For a much smaller investment of time and resources, brands and their contractors now have the ability to streamline shop floor operations, gain visibility, and improve workforce utilization.
Do You Know Where Your WIP Is?
When brands lack real-time visibility into their manufacturing operations, it is impossible to know when work on an order has started and when it will be completed. That makes is difficult to manage customer expectations and make sure you will deliver on your promises.
Companies without a Shop Floor Control MES solution invest a lot of time and effort into simply tracking what is going on with work in progress (WIP). Many have full-time employees whose only job is to circulate around the shop floor checking on orders and then assembling information on clipboards or in Excel spreadsheets. Brands that use 3PM might even have to send their own employees to production facilities to keep the rest of the organization informed.
Real-time Data Provides Instant Visibility into WIP
Shop Floor Control MES software tracks the progress of production throughout your operation in real time, showing managers and supervisors the current status and location of each job on the shop floor. Not only can easy access to real-time information speed up your sewing operations, it also returns time and bandwidth to your management team, so they can focus on more strategic projects instead of manually tracking WIP.
Whether you have one factory or a dozen, Shop Floor Control MES lets you see everything about production with the click of a button. The data is always accurate and always up to date, whether production takes place inside the building or halfway around the world.
Instead tracking jobs manually using gummed sheets and notebooks, workers scan items as they receive them on the production floor, so supervisors can what job is being done—cutting, sewing, embellishing, inspection, shipping—and who is working on it at any moment in time. On one screen, you can see a visual representation of the location of all WIP throughout the production cycle, order by order.
Shop Floor Control MES Helps Identify Bottlenecks and Improve Results
Shop Floor Control MES makes it easier to spot and correct production bottlenecks. Managers receive notifications issues or problems as they occur. Real-time reporting reveals critical information about quality, employee performance, and production costs.
Over time, the collection of shop floor data enables analysis that yields improvements in productivity, product quality and timeliness of order delivery. Shop Floor Control MES helps highlight areas where equipment or training issues impact productivity or quality.
Better Visibility Lowers Inventory Carrying Costs
Real-time data enables brands to increase their forecasting rate significantly, so they can carry less excess inventory and reduce inventory costs. One Exenta customer was able to reduce inventory from over $20 million to below $10 million with Shop Floor Control MES.
Real-time Machine Data Lowers Downtime and Costs
Shop Floor Control MES also helps maximize the value of equipment, through faster response to breakdowns and better preventative maintenance. Consider a routine malfunction such as a broken belt on a sewing machine. Without Shop Floor Control MES, the worker must report the machine to a supervisor who will then call maintenance. A maintenance worker comes to verify the problem, then heads back to the shop to get parts. After returning, maintenance replaces the belt and work can resume.
In contrast, Shop Floor Control MES provides a streamlined, two-step process. As soon as the belt breaks, the Shop Floor Control MES system notifies maintenance via text or email. The message identifies the machine and how it is malfunctioning as well as what operator was assigned. Maintenance shows up much more quickly, with the correct tools and parts. Fewer people were involved and machine downtime was minimized.
With predictive analytics, Shop Floor Control MES determines when a belt will become too worn or needles will need replacing, allowing preventative maintenance to be scheduled during off hours. In this way, companies can reduce downtime by 30% to 50%—saving labor costs in both production and maintenance.
When fashion and soft goods manufacturers switch from more manual shop floor operations to Shop Floor Control automation with real-time data, most experience a very rapid 10-15% improvement in overall productivity. But with time, trends in data also deliver greater long-term gains—in fact, 25-40% improvement in productivity is not unusual with the Exenta Shop Floor Control MES system. Moreover, Shop Floor Control MES changes the game for the manufacturing workforce. With functionality that can support the productivity of handicaped employees and deliver valuable incentive pay to all, Shop Floor Control MES puts the opportunity to maximize manufacturing earnings in reach for all manufacturing workers.
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Real-time manufacturing shop floor control solutions can help with increasing visibility for production operations. Schedule a demo today to learn how Exenta’s shop floor control system can help you benefit your operations today!
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Major apparel brands face many challenges in the current economy, from how to move products to market faster in this era of fast fashion, to how to improve sustainability in one of the world’s most wasteful manufacturing sectors. Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software can be an important tool for fashion and home goods companies to improve the efficiency of workflows while increasing profitability and competitive positioning.
Cloud-based PLM delivers all of the benefits of PLM with a few unique and important advantages. Here are 10 ways cloud-based PLM helps fashion and soft goods brands improve their workflow to reduce costs and improve profitability:
1. Decrease time-to-market for new products. It’s not uncommon for a new product to take 8 to 10 months to go from design concept to production. With cloud-based PLM software speeding up your workflows and helping your teams work efficiently, you should be able to reduce your average time-to-market by a considerable margin. PLM streamlines and automates front-end processes while centralizing your product data. Designers and product managers spend less time on data entry and no longer have to manage lines by updating multiple systems or spreadsheets.
2. Cloud-based PLM can be implemented faster, with lower up-front investment. With on-premise software, a company needs a server(s) and an IT department to implement the solution, which can take many months. IT must maintain the system by installing updates that fix bugs and deliver new features. On-premise software is purchased up front and requires an additional support/maintenance contract.
In contrast, cloud-based PLM software requires no hardware investment, so a company can be up and running very quickly—often in one to two months. There’s a lower up-front because monthly user subscription fee includes software, hardware and support. New features become available as soon as the vendor releases them, so brands benefit from a constantly improving solution, with a lower total cost of ownership.
3. Accelerate design, development and sourcing. Cloud-based PLM provides a centralized system to store and organize all of your product information and make it accessible at anytime from anywhere. Designers can easily locate and pull up past designs to make modifications and try out new ideas. PLM streamlines design material approvals and helps track sample evaluations. PLM should help designers become more productive by enabling them to work in their favorite design tools, such as Adobe® Illustrator®. When changes are needed, designs can be modified and resubmitted in less time.
4. Foster better teamwork. Cloud-based PLM provides real-time collaboration tools that help designers, product managers, technical specialists and sourcing specialists work together more easily—from anywhere in the world. Communication tools like system-wide commenting and user/team notifications help keep everyone on the same page. PLM can also keep track of assignments across design milestones and manage handoffs between steps of the workflow.
5. Reduce the burden of compliance. As the world has increased its consciousness around the conditions in which fashion is created, inadequate compliance can expose brands to costly litigation and reputational damage. PLM helps brands track product information and supplier certifications for compliance with product safety, environmental impact/pollution, and labor condition regulations.
6. Improve collaboration with global supply chain partners. Across time zones and languages, PLM houses the product information that creates a single version of truth. It automates tech pack development, providing templates and measurement tools that let product teams quickly create BOMs, measurement pages and grading views. Production facilities can access tech packs anytime and reach out to the product team using PLM communication tools. PLM also streamlines vendor quotes, bids, samples and approvals.
7. Reduce costs and waste. PLM reduces cost through improved efficiency, easier collaboration, and reduced waste. With the information manufacturers need to maintain quality, rework and scrap can be reduced. Sourcing and costing automation helps brands purchase parts and fabrics in larger volumes at better prices.
8. Boost calendar visibility and control. Cloud-based PLM provides forward-looking visibility and control over your seasonal calendar. It empowers your product team to create line sheets and presentation boards more easily to communicate details to buyers. No more rushing to get the new seasonal line out.
9. Cloud-based PLM scales easily as your business grows. As your business becomes more successful, manual processes and Excel spreadsheets can’t keep up. With cloud-based PLM, you pay only for subscriptions required by your present employees and can quickly add more subscriptions when you hire new people.
10. Make better business decisions. Real-time information and analytics support better-informed and timelier business decisions.
Exenta PLM REVO is a cloud-based PLM specifically designed to help fashion and soft goods brands improve: Communication, Design, Tech Pack Development, Line & Seasonal Management, Material & Sample Tracking, and Sourcing & Costing. Watch this video to see how PLM REVO improves collaboration and efficiency, helping brands speed new products to market while encouraging creativity. Want to learn more about how PLM REVO enhances workflows and profitability? Contact us today for a demo.
To learn more about how Exenta’s cloud-based PLM system can help increase your companies workflows and profitability, schedule a free demonstration today!
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Continuing professional development is an essential component to being a leader in your space. Taking the time to network with others in the industry, to learn about coming trends and changes, and to hear new perspectives is vital to remaining agile and crucial to the ability to adapt and grow as an organization. At Exenta, we strive to make professional development a priority, and that’s why we’ll be at the 2019 SPESA Executive Conference later this month in New Orleans.
SPESA (Sewn Products Equipment and Suppliers of the Americas) hosts its annual Executive Conference this year on October 29 & 30th. The conference represents an opportunity for like-minded sewn products equipment industry professionals to network and share their experiences related to the top challenges and opportunities in our space.
Exenta is looking forward to hearing from our peers and also sharing our perspective on how the sewn products industry is evolving to meet the needs of today’s consumer. The event will feature several panels led by industry experts. Panel topics will focus on current and future manufacturing trends, including reshoring, mitigating China exposure and the opportunities and challenges faced by sewn products manufacturers in the Americas.
If learning more about the key advances taking place in our industry isn’t incentive enough, SPESA’s 2019 Executive Conference offers a great opportunity to enjoy one of the liveliest cities in the U.S. and a keynote address delivered by famed political commentator and media personality, James Carville.
So, whether you come for the crawfish, the entertaining keynote or the chance to network with John Robinson, Justin Hershoran and Per Bringle, Exenta’s leading experts on ERP and Shop Floor Transformation, join us at SPESA 2019 in New Orleans!
Designed for the apparel, footwear, accessories, home furnishings and other fashion-related industries, EXENTA empowers brands, manufacturers, and retailers to advance and scale their businesses by accelerating and improving performance across the entire business and global supply chain. The EXENTA™ enterprise solution provides global process visibility, control and collaboration by combining traditionally independent Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), Sourcing & Supply Chain Management (SCM), Materials Requirements Planning (MRP), Shop Floor Control (SFC), Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), Warehouse Management (WMS), Financial Management (FMS), and other productivity tools into a single, fashion-focused business system. For more information, visit https://www.exentago.com/.
Formed in 1990, SPESA (Sewn Products Equipment & Suppliers of the Americas) is the largest trade association in the Americas solely devoted to the advancement of suppliers of machinery, technology, ancillary equipment, parts, services, and other solutions for the development, manufacture, and distribution of sewn products. SPESA members serve the apparel, upholstered furniture, home textiles, transportation interiors, leather goods, footwear, military, technical/industrial textiles, and other sewn products segments. SPESA promotes and coordinates business and social interaction and provides opportunities for the sharing of industry-specific and general business information for its members and their customers. Learn more at www.spesa.org.
To learn more about Exenta’s software solutions for fashion related industries, contact us today!
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Apparel and home goods customers have a greater number of brand and product choices than ever before in history. So it’s critical that brands can deliver the right products at the right time to capitalize on tastes and trends. The supply chain affects both customer experience and the bottom line, so let’s examine some of the ways technology can make a positive impact on fashion supply chains and avoid some common supply chain problems.
The danger of a fragile supply chain
A weak supply chain can disrupt your plans to deliver products to the marketplace, jeopardizing your relationships with key customers and putting your business at risk of getting stuck with out-of-trend, unwanted inventory. Deliver late orders or inconsistent quality products because you lacked inventory or your vendors failed you, and you might soon find your own customers seeking an alternate supplier. Repairing a damaged relationship is never as good as maintaining a positive one—and recovery issues can be costly when mistakes have been made.
1. Gain real-time visibility across the supply chain
Having an integrated technology platform that brings together information about customers, orders, products, vendors, and inventory can help you achieve visibility across your supply chain. This has many implications for running a fashion brand more efficiently. Real-time insight can enable you to do better forecasting and spot potential supply chain problems before they materialize. When issues do arise, you will react more quickly and improve relationships with partners and customers by being more transparent. Real-time visibility into the supply chain starts with the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. It serves the central data hub of your integrated supply chain platform.
2. Stay agile by modeling ‘what-if’ scenarios
A lot of things can happen between the time a design is ready for manufacturing and when you receive finished goods into inventory. Problems at ports and borders can create logistical challenges. Natural disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes and typhoons can destroy production facilities. In the global economy, fluid geopolitical situations and changing trade agreements can impact whether it makes sense to produce in different regions. For example, Bangladesh, Vietnam and other Asian nations to adjust to the growing tariffs in the trade conflict between the US and China.
A real-time supply chain platform can enable you model what-if scenarios, so that you know how you will respond to changing business conditions. For example, it can help you:
• Decide where to manufacture based on border conditions, logistics and tariffs.
• Adjust for transient problems in the supply chain, for example bad weather or a worker strike, by expediting shipping or negotiating a different pay rate.
• Choose vendors based on past results and current supplies and pricing.
• Make adjustments to production orders based on demand from your retailers.
3. Shorten time from design to delivery
Top fast fashion retailers deliver lucrative, on-trend products to market in about two weeks, compared to the traditional six to nine month lifecycles. Brands with better-than-average supply chain visibility through technology enjoy more opportunities to profit from changing trends than supply chain laggards. To move this quickly, brand owners use Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software to accelerate design, development and sourcing while fostering greater supply chain collaboration. PLM helps brands streamline approvals, change management, line selection, vendor quotes and bids, compliance and other global processes.
4. Improve vendor management and communication
Speeding up the supply chain and improving quality requires excellent relationships with your vendor partners. Vendor Portal technology makes it easy to communicate and collaborate in real-time or near real-time with vendors around the world. You can give vendors anytime access to tech packs, product documents, product or sample images, and order information. A Vendor Portal helps brands automate procurement and bidding, track supply chain stages, and eliminate mistakes and miscommunications that arise from communicating through email and spreadsheets.
5. Take control of global inventory and reduce over-ordering
No brand wants to dampen customer engagement and enthusiasm by having enough apparel ready to satisfy demand, so overproduction is rampant. According to fashion sustainability consultant Hasmik Matevosyan, 30% of clothes produced are never sold, another 30% must be deeply discounted, and 15% of materials remain in the factory due to production mistakes and cutting waste. It all adds up to an industry that is currently the second most polluting on the planet (after the energy industry).
When you lack real-time visibility into inventory, over-ordering creates excess inventory that is often unloaded in unsustainable ways, from deep discounting to burning/shredding deadstock. Research has shown that consumers care about the environmental issues associated with fashion; according to Hitwise, “19% of the top fast fashion related searches were about the environment, ethics and sustainability.”
Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) provide complete visibility into inventory levels of production supplies and finished garments. Shop Floor Control technology delivers visibility into production lines and WIP, whether manufacturing takes place at an internal facility or a vendor. Shop Floor Control delivers up to 37% higher productivity and up to 44% quality improvement, based on data from Exenta customers. Our supply chain platform also delivers Shopfloor Third Party Manufacturing (3PM) management, enabling brands to keep inventories lean by seeing exactly where WIP is in the process and when to expect deliveries.
By combining ERP, Shop Floor Control, WMS, a Vendor Portal and PLM, Exenta has created the only end-to-end, complete supply chain platform designed to empower agility in the fashion and soft goods industry. Ready to learn more about how to improve supply chain visibility with Exenta? Contact us today for a demo.
In this new age of technology, companies within the fashion industry are utilizing technology to help increase productivity and lower costs. Discover how Exenta’s supply chain platform technology can benefit and give your supply chain the upgrade it needs.
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