Five essential features to look for in an ERP for apparel and fashion
In the case of discrete ERP operations in the apparel and fashion industries, highly-discrete capabilities are required. Consequently, as one may expect typical resources-oriented processes are expanded considerably, to include a long list of purpose-built processes designed and delivered on the basis of the needs and scope of each market segment.
Some of these ERP-related process-modules include:
1. Cut planning
This functionality associates itself with ERP’s production planning focus. In the event the process supports overall cost reduction by identifying waste, while saving raw fabric, eliminates materials spreading, and produces enhanced operational efficiencies. This value set is particularly useful with large-scale processes are required such as chain-brand operators, or significant activities related to global buying houses.
2. Fabric inspection
Systems-driven fabric inspection supports the visual inspection of raw fabric, in order to identify defects that can damage a final product lot. This is critical for large-scale operators, since unknown defects can ‘spread’ throughout a complete product line. Once fabric has been properly inspected, any defects in a particular fabric lot must be marked and indexed, so that the downstream production process avoids these defects, thereby reducing waste and ensuring efficient final product quality assurance.
3. Apparel-specific production planning
While this function is typical of most manufacturing evolutions, in this case internal lexicons are refined and delivered in a segment-specific manner, i.e. apparel operations. In this case, general apparel production tasks range from; costing, order entry, process planning (BOM), purchase, inventory, and packing, to documentation, T & A, accounts, payroll, product sampling, platform reporting, and retail activities.
The final result creates a host of features such as; automated BOM from garment specifications, automated order consolidation, automated process sequencing, automated raw material calculations, detailed quality control reporting supported by rejection, shortage, second, and excess billing capabilities.
4. Carton packing
This integrated function handles the end-to-end process of packing and consolidating product lots. This functionality includes subordinated tasks such as RFQ creation, package estimating, order creation, job scheduling and release, labeling and press detailing, global/manual freight management, weight, and carton updating, automated carton calculations, freight, insurance, and tax calculations, and buyer barcode creation and production.
5. Fully-integrated mobile communications
Similarly to other mobility-adept capabilities in the general ERP manufacturing arena, this capability creates seamless communications between the apparel enterprise and its wholesale, distribution, and/or customer base.
Here, however, secondary communications functionalities are driven by specific market lexicons, delivered by compliant device types including; iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, Android, Mac or Microsoft tablets. Downstream, all activities integrate and consolidate themselves within comprehensive sets of Business Intelligence reports, thereby ensuring that all production-to-customer activities are properly maintained and indexed throughout the operational chain.
As one might expect, these five features represent only a sampling of what apparel/fashion-specific ERP systems offer. However, this short list does provide for a functional glimpse of what might be in store should a commercial fashion customer decide to generate an interest in these highly-refined software products.
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