Customers expect personalized garments
Gone are the days where everybody wore the same dark blue overalls no matter in which factory they worked. Now, even workwear is expected to be unique and tailored to the company’s brand.
For us this trend meant the volumes of purchase orders increased significantly, although the production volume increased modestly. This, in turn, meant a considerable increase in the number of stock keeping units (SKU) and a more complex production planning.
Production with short lead times
To offer shorter lead times and improve the customer experience, we were setting up a new workwear manufacturing site in Latvia. The factory would follow the production-on-demand principle and had to be able to operate flexibly. It also required capabilities to automatically optimize the production plan and monitor production in detail and from afar.
We also needed this new, lean production process set up in a way that could be duplicated at other production units.
Creating an integrated system
Nortal was happy to take on this challenge and – met it, with production processes up and running in when the first orders came in.
As a solution, Nortal crafted us a complete, integrated production planning, execution and tracking solution that manages our production seamlessly. Now, we have a customer-driven process where garments are manufactured only on demand and just-in-time: An order from customer is a signal to start cutting the fabrics.
Once the order arrives, automatic scheduling rules aid production planners by suggesting an optimal production plan for available capacity and several planning constraints. The plan will secure on-time delivery of each and every garment ordered from the factory.
RFID to the rescue
All actions can be traced
On the shop floor all the garments get labeled with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and every movement is registered in the system for real-time tracking and progress reporting. Everything that happens in the factory – from traceability of the individual garment through production lines and cells to the order fulfillment – can also be monitored also from our HQ in Helsinki.
The data collected from each garment’s RFID-tag let us monitor where in the production process a specific garment is, how much time different parts of the manufacturing take and when the garment should be ready for shipment.
All the different systems supporting the daily business of running the production – product lifecycle management (PLM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), advanced planning and scheduling (APS) and manufacturing execution system (MES) – are interconnected and the information flows automatically.
Off the charts productivity
The impact of this project has been mind-blowing. Not only has the garment manufacturing lead time improved dramatically, but the factory in Latvia has considerably higher productivity than the clothing industry’s standards. Productivity is way above expectations that we had in the beginning of the project.
Shorter lead times and fact-based decisions
- Manufacturing lead time has dropped from weeks to just one day.
- Production process can be monitored remotely from Helsinki, an order fulfillment can be monitored in real time.
- Sensor and other data that are collected allow more accurate decision-making because it is based on facts and figures.
- Measuring productivity is easy and integrated with payroll management.
Main changes Nortal’s system brought to production:
- A more customer-driven process
- Pull instead of push
- Significantly shorter lead times
- Stock elimination
- One-piece-flow that provides the capability to deal with smaller orders with wide variety of products
Creating amazing solutions for our customers
The timeline of the project was on the more challenging end – we only had a few of months to design, implement, test and deploy the solution. And the factory in Latvia was still being built, so there were a lot of unknown factors at play.
Nortal is very proud to have helped Lindström to bring garment manufacturing to the “Industrial IoT” era. With automation and data-driven decision making, Nortals system has helped us to increase profitability and productivity.