Written by

Daniella Ambrogi


June 23, 2022

Getting Back to Basics with Digitization

Getting Back to Basics with Digitization

Digitization has evolved into a set of newfangled tools with the potential to shape the future of the fashion industry. New, sci-fi-like 3D rendering capabilities and data visualizations are exciting companies and consumers alike about creative shopping experiences and supply chain solutions. Nowadays, customers can virtually “try on” clothes without leaving home, and designers can pick colors and fabrics without preparing or waiting for a physical swatch.

Yet, digitization also has the ability to help get back to the basics and rethink the most fundamental aspects of the apparel and consumer goods supply chain. Many of the challenges that companies face are not new, but rather are rooted in more mundane workplace details. For the employees sewing the garments, for example, a small change in training, lighting or seating might make their work significantly more efficient.

At the 2022 Texprocess America’s Symposium, Michael McDonald, President of SPESA, led a conversation with a group of experts on the value of digitizing fundamental aspects of the apparel supply chain.

Training and Development

Eric Schlossman, Vice President of Consew Southern Hemisphere, described the ways in which digitization could help address gaps in training and workforce development by ensuring that everyone, at every level, knows how to use the machines.

Digitization is a tool not only for identifying gaps, but also for implementing the training necessary to close them. Digital training tools – including recent innovations like augmented reality – can help companies improve consistency and regularity as employees come and go.

“It’s our number one problem,” Eric says. “The operators, the managers, your floor managers, your production managers: They don't know how to use the equipment that was bought by their predecessors six months before them, and they don't know how to train their staff.”

Expertise and knowledge can be shared across time and distance through digital training tools. Now, companies don’t need to rely on flying someone in or bringing an expert onto the shop floor to train supervisors and employees. Especially after the pandemic, work has become increasingly remote, so the ability to run training sessions digitally is essential.

Data and Productivity Gaps

Technology can also be used to identify gaps. Paul Magel, President of the Business Applications and Technology Outsourcing Division at CGS, described the power of CGS software to connect to sewing machines and gather data that can be used to motivate workers and expose inefficiencies.

“By opening up that integration, tying it all the way down to the machine level, we can increase those efficiencies,” Magel says. “Then give visualization back to the supervisors [of] how things are working, who's working, what the skillsets are, who can replace who if somebody's out sick.”

Digital Design

Digital tools are getting even smarter and can process the data they collect to provide design advice that used to be accessible only by talking to experts. Intelligent software has the potential to reduce the back-and-forth between designers and manufacturers by identifying whether a design is too costly or difficult to make.

“Like a spellcheck, it’s costing as you go,” says Keith Hoover, President of Black Swan Textiles.   “It tells you if that seam is going to be bad for fabric utilization – stuff that people know, the stuff that pattern makers are trained in.”

These tools cannot replace the people behind the designs and machines, but they can help them work smarter and more efficiently. Great designers will still be needed to make decisions around texture and taste. They’ll just be making faster, more informed decisions.

Technology is becoming increasingly advanced and futuristic, but its uses are often more elementary: train people, improve communication and boost efficiency. Digitization may be new, but these goals transcend time.

Learn More

Looking for more information on how to digitize your supply chain operations? Visit our BlueCherry Suite page to learn more about how technology can help. You can also learn how industry leaders are navigating supply chain disruptions and consumer demand changes by downloading our 2022 Supply Chain Trends and Technology report.


Written by

Daniella Ambrogi


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