In this featured advertorial, Gerber Technology discusses the most recent version of the product lifecycle management solution offered by their Yunique Solutions business unit. This article focuses, more specifically, on the line planning and calendar enhancements in YuniquePLM V6.
A significant percentage of apparel manufacturers are realizing bottom-line benefits from the product lifecycle management (PLM) software they have in place, and these companies are now looking toward implementing newly developed refinements and upgrades to gain even greater efficiencies from these systems.
PLM systems in apparel production integrate cross-functional departments and teams by enabling them to share, manipulate, revise, and update garment data specifications, resulting in a streamlined design, development, and production process that yields time and cost efficiencies. Companies using these systems have achieved process standardization, shortened product development time, improved margins, and reduced inventory levels according to the ninth annual survey of the apparel industry’s adoption and use of PLM technology, published in the June 2014 issue of Apparel magazine.
In the survey, 72 percent of manufacturers reported cumulative investments of $100,000 or more in PLM technology, an increase from 44 percent in 2012; 36 percent reported a cumulative investment of $250,000 or more. The survey results reflect responses from 52 companies, of which 41 percent were manufacturers, 38 percent were vertically integrated companies that design and sell directly to consumers, and 17 percent were retailers.
Apparel production companies that have not invested in PLM technology use a time-consuming, inefficient and error-prone line planning and development process under which each department creates a separate set of garment specifications, each maintained as separate files in Microsoft Excel spreadsheets or other programs. These disparate files are then collated and forwarded for use in planning, forecasting, cost estimates, and sample production.
With the design, production, and management teams working separately and using incompatible data—and with a focus on costs usually entering late in the game—the result can be production delays, missed deadlines, and higher costs. In an industry that demands efficiency, apparel manufacturers have embraced PLM solutions, and they seem eager for further refinements within these systems.
Of the manufacturers in the Apparel survey that reported having an existing PLM system, 56 percent said they planned to enhance their technology in the ensuing 18 months by adding more capabilities to achieve improved performance and efficiency from these systems. Among the capabilities respondents named on their “wish list” of enhancements were line planning and calendar functions. In fact, 36 percent of manufacturers said they desired greater integration with calendaring and event management applications or functions.
Responding to such requests from users of its PLM systems, Gerber Technology Inc. updated its YuniquePLM system to incorporate enhanced line planning functions and a development calendar tool. These features of the YuniquePLM V6 system combine improved visibility, flexibility, and ease of use to help companies gain the maximum benefit from a readily adaptable, fully integrated PLM system.
Gerber Technology, based in Connecticut, provides hardware and software systems to automate and manage product design and manufacturing processes. Yunique Solutions is the company’s product lifecycle management business unit.
The most powerful benefit of the YuniquePLM V6 line planning module is enhanced visibility to all line and development data across the system. Users involved in all departments—from design and production to sales, management and finance—can access in real time the variable specifications associated with a given garment or line, which contributes to greater flexibility in planning, and more timely and cost-effective production.
On the production side, managers responsible for line planning can easily track the status of any item throughout the production process to determine if it is progressing as scheduled or if additional attention is required. A notification system can be established to send alerts for pertinent occurrences or developments, such as garment overproduction, or exceptions for “rogue” planning outside the line, or indicating a color choice or other feature not in the original line specifications.
Financial variables are factored in early in the planning process, as the line planning module includes fields for cost data associated with each garment. These variables can be adjusted in the system from the top down or the bottom up, and can be used to “model” how changing one feature could impact the overall cost. For example, a senior manager or line planner can determine the impact of making a global top-down change in material and see immediately how that would affect the total line plan. This feature allows for highly flexible line planning, enabling the user to gain optimal efficiency in cost and resource allocation.
The line planning module also incorporates global user interface features that allow for ease and efficiency in making large-scale changes. For example, it gives users the ability to easily make mass line edits to style, size or color attributes. In addition, users have the option within the module to view changes as thumbnail representations or as list/text descriptions.
In an effort to simplify the overall user experience, Gerber has streamlined the line planning module, reducing by up to 80 percent the number of steps or “clicks” required to accomplish each task.
As with the line planning tool, the highlight of the YuniquePLM V6 development calendar is the visibility of real-time information provided to key individuals across the enterprise. The ultimate goals of the calendar tool are to save time, reduce duplication of effort, and ensure accountability for each project.
The calendar is action-and-event-driven, based on user-defined project parameters such as beginning and end dates, owners, dependent actions or tasks, and external events and activities. Such external events and activities can include line review meetings, exhibitions, or trade shows that might impact product or personnel scheduling. Accompanying the chart-format calendar is a graphical interface that enables changes in the placement or duration of any event using a drag-and-drop function. Managers can also set permissions for every user, and edit or change entries at any level.
The calendar provides a visual overview of every project’s critical path, outlining core activities that must be completed in a specified time frame and are prerequisite to the completion of other tasks within the overall project. Giving all stakeholders in the development calendar access to critical path data keeps everyone on the project team “in the loop” on the most important tasks within the project and helps achieve on-time project completion, meeting the high demand for efficiency in the apparel industry.
Additionally, project plans and schedules for individual products or designs can be created outside of the calendar module and developed, set aside, or included for possible integration into the calendar at a later date.
With these line planning and calendar tools in place, key personnel involved in the apparel production process remain up to date with the information they need to be accountable for the time and budget constraints of their projects. Managers have immediate, real-time access to cost and time parameters and can adjust them as necessary to obtain maximum efficiencies. Implemented in tandem, these modules help to complete the potential of the YuniquePLM V6 system to deliver seamless integration of processes and overall efficiency improvements in a garment manufacturing operation. The system is designed for ease of use by all members of a company’s design, production, sales, finance and management teams, and allows for data sharing with partners and vendors as well.
The updated line planning and development calendar features of the YuniquePLM V6 made by Gerber Technology provides a high level of real-time visibility and insight into project planning, development and management within apparel production manufacturing operations.
*This is a featured advertorial from Gerber Technology, and does not act as an endorsement from WhichPLM.