Visual nature: Fashionistas say they know as much about innovation—and outsourcing—as the others

The needs of the fashion industry, when it comes to product life-cycle management (PLM), are different from those of other discrete manufacturers. But as systems evolve for fashion life-cycle management, it may be that these fashionistas—obsessed as they are with visual images—have something to teach other kinds of goods makers.

03/26/2008


The needs of the fashion industry, when it comes to product life-cycle management (PLM), are different from those of other discrete manufacturers. But as systems evolve for fashion life-cycle management, it may be that these fashionistas—obsessed as they are with visual images—have something to teach other kinds of goods makers.
Besides bringing automated equipment to the apparel industry for more than Gerber Technology pioneered computer-aided design (CAD) and PLM solutions for manufacturers and retailers in the sewn and flexible goods industries. It is one of four business units of $575-million Gerber Scientific .
Holly Beum, director of software product management at Gerber Technology, says the company has more than 1,000 PLM customers in fashion industries that include apparel, accessories, furnishings, and home decor.
Beum says it’s the visual nature of Gerber’s solutions that make them particularly relevant to the markets served. “You’re working with merchandisers and designers here, not engineers," she explains. "They’re visually oriented, and not all of them are immediately drawn to technology solutions.”
It’s no secret that the entry of China into the World Trade Organization (WTO) has had a profound impact on the apparel industry in the U.S. While Beum says some in the industry were well positioned, others were caught flatfooted, and have had to learn quickly how best to collaborate with outsourced manufacturers.
“Again, working with visuals [such as] online‘sand-boxes,’ line assortment pages, visual prototyping, and 3D models can help bridge language barriers, and we've developed a PLM solution specific to the collaborative needs of the fashion industry," says Beum.
As market dynamics change and traditional low-cost based countries are pressured to reduce costs, Gerber believes PLM solutions will be more important than ever. China is looking to improve worker conditions and evolve its labor practices, and outsourcing has embraced other Asia-Pac countries. As a result, traditional outsourcing may not lead to the “automatic” margin improvement many companies expect, thereby increasing the need for production automation regardless of geography.
PLM vendors, says Beum, will have to “bridge the digital divide” between brand owners/retailers and their vendors. With expansion of the supply chain to less-developed countries, PLM vendors will need to provide localized versions of their product, local training, and support.
As the amount of outsourcing continues to expand “upstream,” says Beum, PLM solutions will need to deliver Web-based collaborative solutions that encompass every important decision maker and supplier in the “concept to retail” value chain—e.g., merchandisers, planners, designers, technical designers, vendors/partners, and sourcing/production and logistics personnel.
WebPDM is the conceptual predecessor of Gerber’s Fashion Lifecycle Management Suite, which launched in 2006. The suite combines the power of WebPDM, the industry's leading product data management solution, with a robust, scalable, enterprisewide workflow engine and collaboration tools.
Gerber software solutions are used by more organizations in the apparel industry than any other provider. A sampling of customers include Abercombie & Fitch, Adidas, American Eagle, Carrefour, Gap, Haggar, Levi’s, Li & Fung Limited, Mervyns, Otto, PacSun, Perry Ellis, and Polo.





The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
A new approach to the Skills Gap; Community colleges may hold the key for manufacturing; 2017 Engineering Leaders Under 40
Doubling down on digital manufacturing; Data driving predictive maintenance; Electric motors and generators; Rewarding operational improvement
2017 Lubrication Guide; Software tools; Microgrids and energy strategies; Use robots effectively
The cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Power system design for high-performance buildings; mitigating arc flash hazards
Research team developing Tesla coil designs; Implementing wireless process sensing
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; Paralleling switchgear generator systems

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me