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Here’s How Much Digital Solutions Can Boost Supply Chain Productivity

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Gerber PLM

There’s little way forward for supply chains that aren’t digitized—getting systems online and connected has become the sole answer to supply chain efficiency and productivity.

And in a world where consumers increasingly want products tailored to them at a speed that suits their buy now, want now mentality, technology that affords mass personalization and mass customization has become an ever-vital investment.

The biggest problem most companies have in getting equipped to extend this type of offering is the inability to link and synchronize data across the supply chain.

That’s where synced solutions like Gerber Technology’s Digital Solution, can come in to help.

The technology, which Gerber showcased at Texprocess Americas in Atlanta in May, essentially creates a seamless link between your company’s key processes.

Taking Texprocess visitors back to 1876 when the telephone was first invented, Gerber Technology CEO Mike Elia said there are many people who want companies to make garments the same way today as the way ideas were shared back in the early days of the phone—by individual phone calls made to share ideas, where things continue to get passed along and much gets lost in translation.

“They want you to have a discreet system, say maybe in design, put your information in the design system, have that communicate to another discreet system that could be say, in manufacturing, and then have that communicate to yet another system that maybe is shipping or merchandising,” Elia said.

But nobody has time for that.

And even as handy as Excel can still be, the not-so-digitized tech (which many companies still use) also fosters confusion, incorrect iterations of files and at one time or another, leads to costly errors.

“Regardless, if you’re producing 10,000 shirts a day or personalizing jerseys for a sports team, the key to success is a digitized network that allows you to move information throughout your supply chain down to the equipment level and back,” Elia explained. “Integrating the flow of data and leveraging IoT (Internet of Things) technology provides companies with the valuable insight they need to remain agile and optimize their supply chain.”

Gerber’s YuniquePLM product lifecycle management software serves as the hub of the Digital Solution, creating what the company calls “a single version of the truth,” by connecting creative processes like design with supply chain and production functions.

To start, designers can use the YuniquePLM YuSnap app to snap shots of design inspiration from their mobile phones, then upload the images into the system to share with their team to start story boards and line planning.

YuniquePLM can then transfer necessary data to Gerber’s AccuMark pattern design, grading, marker making and production planning software products.

Designers can pull model and marker information from AccuMark into the PLM, and with the latest YuniquePLM version 7, toggle back and forth between products as needed.

Tapping into 3-D technology to improve the design and development process is a trend many companies are catching on to, if at least to save on the costs of sending sample iterations back and forth between designer and factory for color and fit approvals.

But more than cutting costs, Gerber’s AccuMark 3D systems allows for 3-D files to be pulled from AccuMark into the YuniquePLM system, where they can be marked up to include callouts for partners overseas and for virtual sampling. Version 10.1 of AccuMark can improve pattern development creation by as much as 10 percent and cut down on physical sampling.

With Gerber’s AccuPlan, which integrates with a company’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, users can input all information about fabrics for spreading, marker making and material yield, creating ideal plans for saving money, fabric and labor.

For many companies, the funds for investing in systems like this aren’t always readily available, nor are the companies always sure the benefits will match the investment.

In answer to those that may be gun-shy, Gerber lets companies try the goods before they buy them—after sign up, would-be users can have their own YuniquePLM module within 10 minutes, where they can input their own, real data and see how the system works. AccuMark and YuniquePLM are also available as subscription software, eliminating costly infrastructure investments for companies.

Without connected digital systems, Elia says companies aren’t far off from life in 1876.

“You have a high chance of miscommunication, it’s very difficult to collaborate on your ideas and produce product, and it takes a really, really long time to get your idea out and get it into a physical product,” he said, and that’s time retailers constantly working to reduce lead times likely can’t afford.

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