A unique supply chain tool for textile and fashion companies

It's about selling small-series production of high value products such as high-end fashion or performance sportswear. The goal is to link consumers, manufacturers, suppliers, and vendors in the best possible way, over a multi-sided platform offering various data-based services.

One side of the platform, i.e. business-to-consumer (B2C) is aimed at end consumers who want to buy tailor-made products or clothing with certain functionalities, for example thermal comfort or moisture management. The other side of the platform is business-to-business (B2B) and focusses on the supply and manufacturing side. In the project, the research group at the University of Borås leads the development of the B2B side.

Data helps textile and fashion companies with supply chain decisions

"We want to use the power of data to add value so that it becomes profitable to manufacture  certain type of fashion and functional products in Europe" says Rudrajeet Pal, Associate Professor in Textile Management at the Swedish School of Textiles and project leader.

"We work with what happens when the customer has placed a customized order to a retailer/brand using our platform. Then the company, say the retailer, can enter the B2B platform and match the customer order data to find the most suitable supplier or manufacturer and allocate its production," explains Rudrajeet.

He continues, “this is like a supply chain decisionmaking tool that can help companies in making right supply chain decisions for locating and producing small-series, and understand how certain aspects, for example, quality, delivery time, cost, flexibility, customization, sustainability and so on, influence eachother, and the overall decision. We call this Supply Chain Intelligence Wizard”.

The decision support is based on a computer-assisted cooperative work, conducted through interactive interviews and a back-end computational package developed by Vijay Kumar, Senior Lecturer in Textile Management at the Swedish School of Textiles and researcher in the project. Presently, the data comes from about 25 different textile and fashion companies that are producing or increasing production in Europe – of high value-added products, such as high-end fashion garments, functional sportswear, technical textiles – including some big brands such as Hugo Boss and Salomon. This is part of the doctoral student Sara Harper's research.

"Many of the companies that I spoke with are very interested in this innovative project idea and the various services planned," she explains.

Progress and Impact

The databased platform is currently a work-in-progress; the research group are in the process of developing and finalizing most of the associated data services, particularly the Supply Chain Intelligence Wizard. A lot of work will be carried-out over the next six months. They are now halfway through the project and there will be a public workshop in Paris on 24th September, in collaboration with Cap Digital and IFM, and invited textile and fashion companies to demonstrate the first results and get feedback.

"FBD_BModel" is a research and innovation project. This means that much of the purpose of the project is to develop practitioner-oriented knowledge through research.

"When the project is over, we aim to have created a prototype of the platform with several services. Further, its exploitation largely requires dedicated efforts from the industry too. Hopefully the companies which have showed their interest during the research will exploit it further – so we are open to talk! We also expect to use the developed tools and knowledge-base for the classroom teaching at the University", adds Vijay.

The project develops its background knowledge from several previous research projects conducted by Textile Value Chain Management Research (TVCM) Research Group at the University: "Roll to bag", "Digimode", and “Competitive local textile manufacturing”, and Rudrajeet Pal believes that the results from "FBD_BModel" will also lead to new projects more dedicated to the Swedish landscape.

Read more

Rudrajeet Pal

About the project

About the reasearch group TVCM

Text: Anna Kjellsson

Translation: Eva Medin