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Manufacturers Meet Changing Consumer Choices with Accurate and Timely Data

Shamanth Shankar

By Shamanth Shankar

On March 3, 2017

For the majority of manufacturers, setting up an automated production line which is flexible enough to react in time and with limited costs to the changes in consumer’s preferences is challenging.

Incorporating operational flexibility in different parts of the design and production system is not an easy task and PIM can assist with some of the most demanding responsibilities like collecting the proper information for production, synchronizing it across multiple enterprise platforms and locations, publishing it on omnichannel and analyzing it for gathering valuable insights that can be fed back into the production cycle to ensure that the company brings the right product to the right customer, on time and with minimal costs.

A good example of streamlining production processes (with a large variety of items) can be found in the apparel manufacturing industry.

For apparel manufacturers, producing a small number of a variety of items with very little switchover can generate the same economies of scale, as for example, an automated milk production line where there is virtually no switchover time.

In fact, when the fast fashion giant creates a new look, it doesn’t just design a single article, it designs a platform. It designs a shirt but makes non-structural modifications to the shirt – with or without pockets, with a zipper or with buttons, long-sleeve/short-sleeve. Once the base design is created, it introduces many versions of an item and depending on the reaction from the market, it responds to customer needs and switches over production to the popular item extremely quickly. Within 72 hours, the new version is on the shelf.

A PIM solution would enable them to significantly reduce the new product introduction lead time. PIM along with vendor data onboarding helps manufacturers to aggregate vital product information from their suppliers and disperse it to the production lines. When producing a new garment, PIM will provide data about the component choice, type of fabric, the style/season, sizes available, custom or design pattern information from designers, and feed the information to production and distribution resource management software. Unique, curated data will greatly reduce the manufacturing cycle time and avoid assembly line issues like bottlenecks, unbalanced station workloads and a lengthy changeover time.

Once Zara has discovered the best-selling version of the shirt model, it has its network of local mom-and-pop garment factories produce more of that particular item. The company signs a blanket contract for aggregate capacity with the small producers for the year, but the consumption of that capacity is dependent on the actual sales.  As a result of this agility, it is no longer necessary to store large quantities of finished items.

Manufacturers can incorporate customers’ preferences in real-time and fine tune their production levels for lower and higher demand items at lightning speed. They can consolidate inventory in a single in-demand point or ship quickly across multiple stores when the demand exceeds the current capabilities of the sale point.

Consumers want more variety than ever before. This means product design needs to be rethought to avoid multiple and costly production lines. With PIM in the center, manufacturers can now design multiple new products, push data along the supply chain, distribute it efficiently and refine with changing customer choices.

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image @mariyageorgieva @hannahmorgan7 @unsplash