Internet-enabled order entry systems for made-to-measuregarments have ramifications that extend throughout a clothing manufacturer’sbusiness. Key CAD (computer-aided design) companies now offer internet-enabled order entrysystems that link directly into automated made-to-measure pattern adaptation, markermaking and single-ply NC cutting. This provides the opportunity for apparel manufacturersto offer an effective made-to-measure service to the market, as shown by trials atCorneliani in Italy, Bernard Zins/Les Galaries LaFayette in France, and Marks &Spencer in the UK.

Made-to-measure attracts a premium averaging 33.3 percent over the cost of an equivalent garment, so this is bound to become a competitive – though reasonably limited – marketing opportunity. The front-end (CAD), however, is only one aspect of the management, technology and controls required to enable a company to operate such a service successfully.

Other important considerations include the fact that information about many short runs (a few meters) of fabric must be held by location within the raw materials store, and every garment must be tracked and monitored throughout the production and warehousing sequence up to individual dispatch and receipt by each customer.

The sheer volume of information required on an ‘as needed’ basis will require very careful thought in terms of the specification of the type of systems and controls that are necessary to ensure it is available. This will include automated individual garment sorting and picking in the warehouse, work-in-progress monitoring through the factory, and satellite tracking of the completed product to signed receipt by the end customer.

In essence, each made-to-measure garment will equate to a sales order that, in turn, will equate to a works order, marker, cutting sheet, picking list, dispatch note, invoice, and so on. Fast throughput will be fundamental, with an end customer prepared to wait only one to two weeks for delivery of the finished product.

Should a company consider offering this type of service, it will need to carefully appraise the ramifications throughout the entire business, from receipt of the order, throughout production and warehousing to distribution methods. Management, operators, systems and controls will all need to be highly versatile and flexible.

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