Lectra has launched the latest release of its Optiplan cutting-room optimisation tool, with new features to help for apparel manufacturers streamline operations and improve efficiency.

Optiplan V3R4 taps into the trend for higher volumes of smaller orders in a wide variety of styles and colours, combined with ever-shorter lead times.

Fabric is typically the largest contributor to garment cost, so optimising how it is cut and processed is key. The latest version of Optiplan consolidates orders and connects disparate systems from ERP to the cutting room, helping to facilitate the flow of information and optimising markers, spreading and cutting operations.

Manufacturers can also also boost efficiency by running what-if simulations based on different planning and manufacturing configurations, so that they can evaluate their design-to-cost and manufacture-to-cost options. By predicting the amount of fabric needed for a given production run, fabric orders are minimised and raw material inventories are reduced.

"With the improved workflow between order planning and processing, we are saving a remarkable amount of time," says Kais Masmoudi, deputy director of Société De Lingerie, which produces for lingerie brand Lise Charmel. "We are also able to mix more styles and sizes to better manage our fabric consumption."

A lean approach to the cutting room also benefts speed and agility to respond quickly to change, enabling stock to be replenished based on actual sales and not simply on predicted demand.

"We get weekly point-of-sale data from the stores and then decide what to manufacture. We plug it into Lectra's Optiplan and it says 'Cut it this way.' Then we deliver within a week to replenish the stores," explains Dr Delman Lee, president and CEO of Hong Kong's TAL Apparel Group.