etter management of the supply chain” echoes throughout the textile industry as a
critical strategy for future success. Even as difficult times have pressured budgets for investment
in information technology (IT), both interest in and implementation of supply chain systems
continues to be a necessary leap in order to satisfy customer demands for information, squeeze
internal cost and improve communications globally.
In his paper “Principles of Supply Chain Management,” James L. Lovejoy, Textile Clothing
Technology Corp. ([TC]2), points to Robert B. Hanfield’s “Introduction to Supply Chain Management”
for the definition: “The supply chain encompasses all activities associated with the flow and
transformation of goods from the raw materials stage, through to the end user as well as the
associated information flows. Supply chain management is the integration of these activities
through improved supply chain relationships, to achieve a competitive advantage.”
The Demand Activated Manufacturing Architecture (DAMA) project, which ran from 1994 to 2001,
proved the need for and effectiveness of collaborative efforts throughout the supply chain. The
models created and simulators available through the [TC]2 program leave little room for argument.
As Lovejoy states: “The DAMA researchers proposed that if cooperative business management could be
agreed upon among the companies in the softgoods supply chain, a higher degree of synchronization
would occur. With more synchronization, the time from raw materials to consumer in a supply chain
such as the men’s nylon supplex parka, could be reduced by 50 precent. This would place the
decision making of what to manufacture closer to the consumer’s decision of what to buy and all
participants would benefit.”
And benefit they do — as manufacturers continue to target solutions. Suppliers in the
software solutions arena range in size and scope, offering a dizzying array of very specific
solutions — many directly targeting textiles and apparel. SAP, JOMAR Softcorp International,
Sunrise Technologies Inc., Datatex S.A. and others have presented varying degrees of solutions for
supply chain management (SCM). Industry-specific issues such as color management have been pursued
by eWarna.com and Datacolor
Streamlining Color Management,”
, December 2002). Vendors such as Lion Brothers Co. Inc., Intentia, Justwin Technologies
Inc. and New Generation Computing Inc. continue to target the apparel market.
The challenges of SCM are far from being a textile-only issue. As Jon Surmacz, CIO magazine,
[A]ccording to Boston-based AMR Research, 20 percent of 509 companies surveyed will
implement SCM applications within the next year. Nearly half of respondents (46 percent) reported
that they are currently using at least one SCM module.
Order and inventory management applications are the most popular, while supply chain network
design applications ranked low, according to the report. Gerald McNerney, senior analyst at AMR,
says companies are focusing on tracking orders and moving them through the supply chain. “There’s
been a shift in where the market is going. We’ve seen people buying very strategic planning
applications,” McNerney says.
“They’ve moved on to the execution suite: warehousing, transportation and order management.
The idea that people want to automate their segments and add productivity is a key driver,”
McNerney says, “but it also works in tandem with the cost-reduction aspect.”
The report predicts that by 2004, spending on SCM and customer management applications, as a
percentage of the overall IT budget, will grow while ERP [Enterprise Resource Planning] spending
will shrink slightly.
profiled Valdese Weavers and its SAP installation
Weavers ERP Success Story,”
Textile Industries, May 2001). Knitter Alba-Waldensian’s upgrade with iWork
Software and Talbots’ recent investment in Avery Dennison’s InfoChain Express™, profiled below,
illustrate the variety of needs and suppliers solutions available.
Talbots And InfoChain Express™
Mass.-based Talbots, a specialty retailer of women’s classic apparel and accessories, has gone live
with Avery Dennison InfoChain Express as its global solution for scan and pack, providing order
integrity and timely delivery through Advanced Ship Notice.
Talbots is an international specialty retailer and cataloger of women’s classic apparel,
shoes and accessories. The company currently operates 838 stores — 449 Talbots Misses stores, 215
Talbots Petites stores, 41 Talbots Accessories & Shoes stores, 62 Talbots Kids stores, 47
Talbots Woman stores, and 24 Talbots Outlet stores. In 2001, its catalog operation circulated
approximately 57 million catalogs worldwide.
Talbots is using InfoChain Express to automate and integrate its global supply chain and to
ensure 100-percent vendor compliance as it relates to scan and pack. The system provides a global
platform on which Talbots communicates and interacts automatically and seamlessly with its supply
chain partners, including factories and vendors.
“InfoChain Express provides exceptional business benefits and ROI [return on investment] to
Talbots,” stated Ali Ho Clemens, vice president and general manager of Avery Dennison InfoChain
Express. “Our strength in professional services and our global presence ensure successful rollout
of InfoChain Express to Talbots’ supplier base worldwide. That’s why Talbots, as well as many other
leading retailers and brand owners, have adopted InfoChain Express as their exclusive global
collaborative supply chain management and vendor compliance/solution provider.”
Avery Dennison InfoChain Express is a division of Avery Dennison Retail Information
Services, Greensboro, N.C. Avery Dennison’s broad product offering includes Web-based SCM
solutions, service bureaus, in-house imprinting systems and software, fully and partially
preprinted tags, labels and label forms, sequential bar code tags and labels, electronic article
surveillance (EAS) tags and labels, fastener products and consulting services. Major markets
include retail, apparel, softlines and hardgoods.
Alba-Waldensian & iWork
Founded in 1901, Alba-Waldensian Inc. has grown into a multi-facility company manufacturing
knitted intimate apparel and medical specialty products both domestically and internationally. The
company owns and operates three domestic manufacturing facilities: one in Rockwood, Tenn., and two
in Valdese, N.C., where the corporate offices are located. Alba-Waldensian is a division of Tefron,
a global leader in the manufacture of seamless intimate apparel sold by specialty retailers
including Victoria’s Secret, The Gap and Banana Republic.
“It’s no secret that cost reduction and increased productivity are key to survival in today’s
tightened markets,” said Bill Neill, director of information technologies, Alba-Waldensian. “The
charge is always to do more with less, and do it quicker and cheaper.”
Having recently upgraded to the latest automated data collection (ADC) solution from iWork
Software, Alba-Waldensian is purportedly enjoying a product flow as seamless as the knit material
it makes — all in a project that was equally seamless, taking just 27 days from start to go-live.
Alba-Waldensian was looking for the right product to upgrade its current data collection
software — an earlier generation data collection product from iWork. Although the company had been
happy with the iWork product, it conducted a field survey of many radio frequency (RF) data
collection solution providers, including iWork ADC, before making its choice.
“We wanted guaranteed transaction delivery, real-time update capability and a solution that
offered continued plant operations in the event of a communications interrupt between the corporate
frame and the plant servers,” said Neill. “We found none that could provide all that, plus the high
level of off-the-shelf integration into our ERP system as iWork ADC.” The high level of ability to
integrate is due to the patented integration technology of the iWork Business Integration Suite
that is installed as part of every iWork ADC implementation.
According to Neill, the solution implemented by iWork allows Alba-Waldensian to move
materials faster through the production line, with less manpower and with better inventory and cost
control at each step in the production process. “In addition to the obvious cost savings, the
increased flow of goods has reduced staging inventories and aided in increasing on-time shipments
and decreasing vendor compliance issues and charge-backs,” said Neill.
The project was a comprehensive hardware and software upgrade. In addition to installing
iWork ADC to upgrade the company’s data collection system, iWork created a data flow that fed the
information from the WIP system Satellite Plus, which had no direct transaction interface to BPCS,
into iWork ADC for posting to BPCS.
Speeding Up Transactions
Alba-Waldensian with real-time data collection capability, the iWork technology speeds up
transaction and linking time and guarantees transaction delivery, all creating time savings that
significantly tighten the production cycle.
“With our old system, everything ran on the RF unit or terminal, which in our case was
pretty old and very slow,” said Neill. “For example, in printing shipping labels, the transaction
accesses the database multiple times, and that data has to travel to the terminal and back. In
iWork ADC, you scan the label you want to print and all the work happens on the server where the
data is stored. From our testing, this saves almost three seconds on every label. At an average of
1,000 labels a day, iWork is saving us one hour a day, or 30 production hours monthly,” said Neill,
who also noted the increase in the speed of the transactions has resulted in visibly greater
productivity of shop floor employees, who can now move product even faster.
Alba-Waldensian has gained even more time savings with iWork ADC in the process of initial
table downloads. “With the existing system, it takes [more than] 14 hours to download and
synchronize the tables from the AS/400,” said Neill. “With iWork ADC, this process takes about two
hours, and iWork is introducing a new process that is about three times faster than this.”
Neill noted that the scripting language used in iWork ADC to create the transactions has
been significantly enhanced over the earlier version. “In addition to being more user-friendly, you
can do more powerful queries, accessing more data faster,” he said.
And because linking between transactions and events takes place on the iWork ADC server
instead of the RF gun, transaction delivery is guaranteed, even in the event the RF loses
connection. “The iWork solution allows users to log back on to a different gun or terminal and
restore the session right where it left off, with no data loss,” said Neill. “This is key, since
the ability to practice internal just-in-time delivery of work from work center to work center
requires 100 percent transaction processing. iWork ADC allows product to flow without having to
build a staging inventory at work centers to accommodate transaction timing, tightening our
production cycle and reducing both our WIP and raw inventory.”
Previously, transactions could be performed only using an RF gun or designated PC terminal.
With iWork ADC, shop floor transactions now can be performed on any PC on Alba-Waldensian’s network
that is equipped with an Internet connection and Web browser Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher.
“With the old system, everyone had to get out of the system before changes in transactions
could be downloaded from the RF guns or terminal,” said Neill. “Today, the change is made, the user
goes back to the main menu, and the change takes effect as soon as the transaction is started, all
without any disruption to anyone using the system.”
In light of the early success of the iWork implementation, Alba-Waldensian is already
looking to extend use of the iWork solution in the future. “We are considering a cyclical inventory
project utilizing iWork ADC capabilities, and are also using iWork consultants as an external
source of expertise for our communications, networking and applications inventory,” said Neill.
According to Neill, previous bad experiences with other IT projects had created an
atmosphere of considerable concern that the ROI would not justify the cost or effort of
implementation, and that critical funds might be better spent elsewhere.
“On the iWork project, a good project plan coupled with excellent technical support during
the implementation resulted in not just on-time, on-budget performance, but also yielded several
operational improvements that were not initially anticipated,” said Neill, citing a task that
formerly required three man-hours a day, which was reduced to 12 minutes per day as a result of the
“We learned firsthand that the proper technology, when coupled with expert consulting and
capable implementers, can meet and exceed project goals.”