MRP software for textile manufacturers
The textile industry presents some unique challenges for manufacturers, specifically around stock management. In this article we explore some of the common problems that textile manufacturers experience, how MRP solves them and what additional benefits it can provide.
Why do Textile Manufacturers need MRP software?
Many of the distinctive issues faced by textile manufacturers centre around material. Factors such as material density, colour range, patterns and weave make it difficult for manufacturers to categorise and keep track of what they have. Furthermore, working with these materials often requires specific skill sets that not all staff may possess. Many operations such as sewing require staff with greater experience to perform specific procedures. Throw quality control into the mix and you have a complex array of problems that paper and spreadsheets alone cannot address.
Capacity planning can cause major problems, especially when works orders may range from one-offs to volume orders. With the previously-mention skill-set requirements, capacity is often planned based on staff capability and availability rather than machine availability, and throughput can vary significantly between staff.
Companies may often have to handle consignment stock, holding customers' stock and needing to track and report what is used.
Case Study: A company serving the automotive industry were using a mixture of spreadsheets and paper. They implemented 123Insight themselves in just two weeks with no technical support calls needed, selecting its fixed monthly subscription over systems costing over £80k.
There are also environmental considerations. Some chemicals such as fabric dyes are harmful, so it's important to keep track of what quantities were used and where. These invariably have a shelf-life with expiry dates, and many companies fall foul of some materials falling out of date because of poor stock control.
How can MRP help quality for textile manufacturers?
Textiles can be used across a wide range of sectors - furniture, transportation and clothing to name but a few. There are some common quality standards, such as IOS9001, but manufacturers often have to adhere to others such as TS16949 (automotive), AS9100 (aerospace), EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency), RISQS (Railway Industry Suppliers) and ISO14001 (environmental management).
Traceability across material batches and product revisions are also important. Being able to deliver, say, a replacement seat for a specific model and year of aircraft and having the ability to prove this quickly in the event of an audit is something that only a system spanning all relevant departments can provide.
Wastage can occur in various areas, but identifying the root cause can often be difficult - how is it defined and how do you subsequently report on it?
Case study: A company manufacturing seating for the rail industry used a combination of Sage accounting software and spreadsheets. After implementing 123Insight in just four weeks, also interfacing it with their Sage software, they saw stock reduce by 40% and used 123Insight as the backbone for their quality management.
How do textile manufacturers implement MRP?
The implementation process can be a case of trial and error when creating processes for the first time. It therefore makes sense to create a live system first, set up the most basic elements and then replicate this on a test system. Once each process is proven out on the test system they can be replicated on the live system.
An implementation plan that acts as your checklist will keep everyone on track, detailing every task for each area of the business. Group and prioritise tasks so that the implementation process can be broken down into stages where each workflow can then be tested. Place approximate completion times against each one - once allocated it's then very easy to filter this so that everyone has clarity over their workload.
Here are some ideas of standard column headers:
- Department (e.g. Technical, Admin, Production, Stock etc.)
- Description of task
- Number of days for completion (could be whole or partial numbers)
- Is the task critical? (Yes/No)
- Deadline date
- Responsible person (allocated department head)
- Percentage completed
- Days left (calculated from estimated number of days minus by percentage complete)
What benefits can textile manufacturers see after implementing MRP?
As stock is usually the first place where many of the problems occur before MRP this is the area that will often feel the benefit immediately. Issuing of material and recording what is returned to stock can be more tightly controlled, and this can be a major boon for companies working with irregular shapes such as leather, storing remnants that can be used in the future.
Low-cost tablets running 123Mobile are ideally suited for use in the stock room. Barcodes can be cost-effectively and easily applied to all stock items, making it simple for staff to quickly scan and identify stock or perform rolling stock checks.
Shop Floor Data Collection, performed either on PCs or on tablets via 123Mobile can also help to identify areas where further training might benefit certain operators. Staff can clock on and off of jobs, to quickly highlight the variances between what was planned and what was actually achieved in both production output and time. Some companies incentivise this further by tying company bonus schemes to productivity, offering the carrot of financial benefit rather than what is perceived by many staff as the stick of 'Big Brother'.
123Insight's Skills Matrix helps production planners to schedule work, as they can quickly see which staff with particular skill sets will be available for planned works orders.
Case study: An aircraft interior manufacturer using 123Insight was able to increase turnover by 260% with the same number of staff, turning stock over 8 times per year due to better stock management. Lead times remained constant despite a diversification into more complex products.
Integration with third party systems can deliver further dividends. For example, CADCAM and nesting tends to be a standalone operation. 123Insight has a common component orders export function, allowing a list of parts to then be imported into the nesting software to generate NC code for the CNC knife cutter. Feedback can then be passed from the nesting software back to 123insight to complete the loop, confirming the number of parts that were cut.
Quotes will become more accurate, as set up times for both manual and automated processes can be logged and applied. Revision control is made simple, with all version documentation being associated with the Bill of Material. When it comes to reordering, not only is all the manufacturing information instantly available, but all related stock and/or purchasing information.
The pandemic threw up major challenges for manufacturers, but many in the textiles industry saw an opportunity, quickly developing new PPE products such as face masks, office dividers and countertop screens. 123 Insight allows for multiple sales divisions to be created, also providing companies with the ability to create branded paperwork for each division.
Some companies may have an element of direct selling, so having the ability to connect an MRP system to an online ecommerce website can streamline and automate the ordering process. Using either 123Insight's SDK (Software Development Toolkit) to facilitate data exchange or connecting 123Insight to products such as 123 Insight's business partner, Solweb's Web Portal. Customers will be able to see real-time stock levels, place orders and get updates on delivery.
Being able to categorise every little detail throughout your product range and production can really help you to get granular with data. For example, using analysis codes to better categorise aspects of raw materials will allow you to drill down through stock to find fabrics of a particular colour or density, or identify alternatives that might be suitable for a job. Categorising the causes of scrap such as by operator error, machine malfunction or material defects gives you the power to enact changes within the business to reduce or eradicate these in the future.
Textile manufacturers often have to purchase stock in one unit of measure but stock and consume it in others. Fabric may be purchased by number of rolls of a given length or in linear metres but be consumed by length.
The ability to either upscale in response to rapid growth or diversify to take advantage of opportunities is only possible with an effective manufacturing system. Many 123Insight customers also created new product ranges and tapped into new markets during the pandemic, and they were able to do so with minimal impact on administration workload.
The textile manufacturing industry has many areas that are common with other industries when it comes to MRP software, but by being able to manage those little differences is what will give you the edge.
Having a system that can competently handle the little nuances with this sector can allow you to grow your business and respond rapidly to change, while also freeing up staff from the mundane to focus on tasks that add more value.