& Clegg show how its done!
On the face of it, Cookson & Clegg are a typical Lancashire clothing
manufacturer. Established in Blackburn in 1860, a town recognised as
the cotton weaving capital of the world by the end of the century, Cookson
& Clegg have a solid pedigree. The company specialises today in
the production of Combat Clothing for the British Ministry of Defence,
together with general workwear, casualwear and sportswear.
Like most other Lancashire clothing manufacturers, Cookson & Clegg
would undoubtedly have run into operating cost problems, if, in the
early 1990's, they had not grappled with the challenge of finding sustainable
and cheaper off-shore sources of production.
Finding a manufacturing source off shore that is accessible from the
UK is no problem. Eastern Europe, North Africa and Asia are all awash
with manufacturers with the skills, capacity and low labour cost overheads.
Unfortunately not! It soon becomes apparent that other crucial factors
- quality, delivery response, and logistics management generate a raft
of problems to be solved that were not apparent when product was manufactured
There are huge
cost penalties to be faced for materials wastage and loss. Timely delivery
can be compromised and the product when it does arrive can be of poor
quality. Then to top it all HM Customs hits you with a bill for duty!
Like many textile
companies, Cookson & Clegg moved its production off shore in the
early 1990's, experimenting with South Africa, Botswana, Sri Lanka,
Lithuania, Poland and Romania. Finally, in 1994, the company set up
a partnership with a Romanian manufacturer in Bucharest to exclusively
produce its garments. They were also able to control quality and impose
the required management controls by heavy involvement of Cooksons manufacturing
staff. The Romanian factory is now producing 20,000 units per week to
ISO 9002 standards - no mean achievement!
& Clegg and XeBusiness (XeB) their Computer Systems Vendor
The process of bringing the Bucharest factory up to scratch was not
easy and subsequently controlling it at arm's length, from Blackburn,
required a sophisticated MIS infrastructure. XeB supplied the applications
software to underpin their sourcing and manufacturing operations. Cookson
& Clegg's management team needed accurate Bills of Material and
the means of matching raw material to CMT (Cut Make and Trim) requirements.
They needed timely and accurate reporting of inventory levels to facilitate
the matching of purchases to raw material requirements, visibility of
materials and finished garments throughout the cycle, and fast and accurate
tracking of materials shortfalls through costing error or wastage.
XeBusiness consultants, Cookson & Clegg were able to develop an
Information Systems (IS) strategy and put in place applications solutions
from XeB to execute the strategy.
The volume of business meant and the controls required to source from
a third party dictated that automation of prior paper based processes
was the answer.
Richard Hampson, Managing Director of Cookson & Clegg, had experience
of XeBusiness ERP applications and its implementation at Mikar Holdings
in Bolton, an existing client of XeBusiness. He looked to Xe-ERP for
Shop Floor Labour Cost Control, Sales Order Processing and Purchasing
in 1997/8 and then in 2000 added on the CMT and Stock at Suppliers modules
to help resolve the problems associated with sourcing from Romania.
The Xe-ERP system
is made up of a series of off the shelf modules, which can be tailored
to individual needs as required. But having been developed by apparel
industry professionals specifically for businesses in the apparel and
sewn goods sector it is already well suited to the task.
to Richard Hampson:
never buy a software solution that perfectly fits your organisation's
methods, but in the case of Xe-ERP the fit was pretty good. Where the
software did not fit our systems, the Xe-ERP solution usually presented
a better method anyway. That was without having to consider a bespoke
solution, which is always available as a final alternative."
The Business Benefits
The applications software was implemented in a very short period of
time and started to yield results almost immediately.
The statistical evidence 18 months following implementation indicates
the following conclusions:
Reduced / eliminated stock support by expensive air freight deliveries.
Reduced / eliminated factory down time due to lack of critical components.
Improved inventory accuracy.
Elimination of minor component stock outages (i.e. labels, swing tickets,
Just in Time (JIT) stock management is now a real possibility.
More accountability at the CMT factory for stock levels and shortages.
Automation of time consuming clerical tasks.
Easy identification of redundant items of raw stock in the factory.
Richard Hampson comments in conclusion:
"The benefits have been immeasurable. Essentially, it would have
been impossible to operate at our current levels without the XeB system
and indeed without their highly responsive and close support."
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