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How OnPoint and Gerber Help On-Demand Clients Accelerate ‘Concept to Production’

OnPoint Manufacturing, the Alabama-based on-demand apparel manufacturing innovator, has evolved its lean garment production operations with the implementation of new tools from Gerber Technology.

OnPoint said the installation of the GERBERcutter Z1 cutter for single-ply fabrics and AccuMark pattern design software at its Florence facility marks the “next step forward in moving toward optimization of end-to-end, on-demand manufacturing.”

The manufacturer’s highly digitized platform enables brands to produce one-off products efficiently, tailored to consumer demand and specifications without carrying high-risk inventory. “We are setting up for a total inline system where we can go from direct-to-print to direct-to-manufacturing,” OnPoint CEO J. Kirby Best said in a statement.

“While we are still determining a final digital press solution, using Gerber’s software suite and automated cutting systems like the Z1 moves us closer to our end goal,” he added. “Each system we implement makes our manufacturing process more efficient and helps our customers get from concept to production more quickly.”

The fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0, is sweeping through the manufacturing landscape, and technologies like cloud, artificial intelligence and Internet of Things enable factories to lower production costs while producing a greater variety of goods.

Earlier this year forecast 15.59 percent growth through 2024 for the market around digital transformation in manufacturing, noting that the “on-demand manufacturing trend is expected to grow and industry 4.0 is expected to help in making efficient decisions and enhance supply chain operations.”

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Gerber’s patented technologies will elevate and streamline manufacturing operations at OnPoint. A unique ICC color profile within AccuMark ensures “design integrity through the print process” while its PrintSync device enables fabric to flow from the digital printer through to the cutter without any manual intervention needed.

Karsten Newbury, Gerber’s chief strategy and digital officer, praised OnPoint’s “technically advanced automated manufacturing,” adding, “combined with our unique end-to-end solution, this partnership will pave the way for true personalized on-demand manufacturing, which is what today’s consumers are increasingly expecting.”

OnPoint’s collaboration with Gerber strengthened last year when the latter debuted its FashionTech 1.0 platform, a full-service purchase-activated manufacturing model implemented at the Florence facility and in the Nashville headquarters of PAAT, or Purchase Activated Apparel Technologies. The goal, Newbury said at the time, was to help brands “achieve the countless benefits of a demand generated micro-factory.”

Best told Sourcing Journal that the Gerber installation isn’t about boosting productivity but about enabling seamless end-to-end production for direct-to-print garments. Today the Florence factory operates at about 33 percent capacity and the new Gerber tools “should drive us significantly higher,” Best explained.

“We’re hoping to get to 80 percent [eventually] because in an on-demand world you always have to leave some percentage available for the speed factor,” Best said of the need to allow capacity for new customers who can crop up at any time.

And though OnPoint at times has struggled to attract qualified sewers and seamstresses, Best credits the company’s Alabama Manufacturer of the Year award win for the influx of talent’s that’s “coming out of the woodwork.”

“I like to joke that we’re the best-kept secret in the sewing industry,” Best concluded.