Tuesday, February 5, 2013

High Tech Sewing Machines Revolutionizing a Low Tech Supply Chain

Automakers and other manufacturing industries, for decades, have been able to develop more efficient supply chains through the use of automated systems to track the assembly cycle of a product. This process of tracking a product from its miscellaneous parts to a finish good has been able to save both time and manufacturing costs.

Yet, the retail and clothing industry has been lagging in implementing the same type of management system.  This is due in large part to the inherent nature of the low tech apparel industry.  Profit margins are driven by cheap labor and low-cost factories, which is why these industries are attracted to low-wage countries in Asia.

Last year, however, Sun Star Machinery, the largest manufacturer of sewing machines in the world, started producing a "smart" sewing machine.  These machines have both computers and a display built into them.  This allows for standardized stitching as well as the ability to provide live, instant feedback on production.  That information can then be sent all the way to the customer, in real time, allowing them to know exactly how long much longer it will take for the order to be completed and when, precisely,  it will be shipped.  Such an upgrade enhances customer service as it decreases uncertainty in terms of inventory management.  Retailers, know how long the production process takes and when exactly the finished goods will be ready for transport, making inventory decisions easier.  This is even more important, to "fast retailers" with a short EOQ model and an inventory turnaround of about a week.

Bethel Industries, a military apparel company based in New Jersey, saw a 25% increase in production after the implementation of these "smart" sewing machines. Though the cost (50% more than the average sewing machine) may slow widespread adaption.

Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323968304578250013428206842.html?KEYWORDS=supply+chain

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.