"You'd be amazed at the many steps that need to be taken to get a garment from concept to delivery," including the selection, testing, and cutting of the material and final quality-control inspections, says Jake Pleeter, CFO at Pacific Alliance. "Some of the processes are conducted in parallel, others need to be completed in a certain sequence. It's a complex manufacturing process," he says.
Pacific Alliance is installing TradeStone Software's Web-based Unified Buying Engine and its Unified Order Management module, which was released earlier this month, to better automate the highly collaborative garment-buying and manufacturing process. Currently, the process is conducted largely by cell phone, E-mail, and fax, Pleeter says. That's "difficult to coordinate globally," he adds. Pacific Alliance plans to have the software fully running by Aug. 1.
Pleeter says the software will run on the company's intranet and extranet and will integrate with its current applications running on an AS/400. The apps will provide more effective collaboration among buyers and suppliers, for instance, with real-time access to garment design and production plans. This will enable Pacific Alliance, for the first time, to have its overseas partners and employees enter information directly into its system. "When a production manager gets on the system, such as when a vessel has landed with a [purchase order], they can enter the information and the process will be seamless," Pleeter says.
"The idea is to extract as many non-direct product-value costs out of our system as possible, and this is a fully integrated collaborative tool that will let us do that," Pleeter says.
TradeStone's customers include American Eagle Outfitters, The Children's Place, and Deutsche Woolworth.