Ghim Li Holdings Co Pte Ltd, a major manufacturer of men's, ladies and children's wear, has signed a Sin$1.9 million contract with Geac Enterprise Solutions, a division of Geac Computer Corporation Limited, to help expand its operating efficiency and automate many of its existing business processes across geographical boundaries.

The contract, worth approximately Cdn$1.7 million, covers hardware, software and services provided to Ghim Li.

Under terms of the agreement, Ghim Li's investment will include software licenses for Geac's System21 Style ERP solution - including financials, manufacturing and distribution - linked to a central IBM iSeries 820 based in the Singapore head office.

In addition to ERP, Geac will be providing consultancy and will implement its solutions for production planning, product data management and business intelligence. The entire project should be completed by July 2004.

"The clothing industry no longer has four seasons a year, which means we constantly receive orders throughout the year. It is imperative that we meet our customers' very high delivery standards to avoid extra freight charges or crippling penalty clauses. We must deliver on time, and with our new IT systems we will be able to calculate 'available to promise' delivery dates," said Estina Ang, chief executive officer at Ghim Li.

"The Geac system will help us to compete globally and make Ghim Li into a leading garment contract manufacturer. We want to leverage our business through technology and this project will raise the IT skills within the organisation. This will allow us to raise our quality in terms products and services."

Ghim Li manufactures on behalf of leading US retailers, including Federated Department Stores, May department stores, Sears, Roebuck and Co, Target stores, Mervyn's and Wal-Mart, and specialty retailers Eddie Bauer, Charming Shoppes and Foot Locker.

Ghim Li has 13 manufacturing operations located in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, China, Fiji and Guatemala, and sales and marketing offices in Singapore, Hong Kong and Los Angeles.

The system will support Ghim Li's move towards the centralisation of finance, purchasing and production planning, and it will soon be possible for Ghim Li's customers to have access to production and delivery status across the company's worldwide manufacturing operations.

A centralised purchasing system will enable Ghim Li to source raw materials globally for all of its worldwide operations, multiplying its buying power rather than diluting it on a local basis. Also, the Geac financial system will provide consolidated accounting for the entire group's operations. This will be imperative for the company's future growth, which already has revenues of US$160 million and over 6,000 staff.

Although Ghim Li is centralising many processes, users are set to see the benefits from local flexibility. The production-planning tool will allow them to extract product information from System21 and view all production requirements graphically on screen. The product data management-based system can analyse the individual cost elements of manufacturing each part of the garment and in turn manage the Bill of Materials and Production Routes to encourage cost effective manufacture.

Simple manipulation of production orders can then avoid any bottlenecks occurring and ensure capacity can be optimised across all production lines in real time. In this way Ghim Li can ensure customer demands can be met in conjunction with production efficiency.