Vlisco – Industrial Manufacturing ERP
Vlisco enhances transparency and uniformity with Oracle JD Edwards ERP
Rihanna wore a dress made of Vlisco fabric when she visited the White House. Internationally renowned British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare is bringing Vlisco fabrics to the four corners of the world with his art works. Vlisco, based in Helmond, has been a household name in African culture for over 170 years and has 25 shops, 3 factories and 8 wholesale offices worldwide. In Africa, wearing clothes made of Vlisco fabrics is the same as wearing Gucci or Chanel. Although the company is going through trying times, just as many other fashion companies, it is looking straight towards the future. Its partnership with Cadran and the implementation of JD Edwards EnterpriseOne 9.1 allows the company to go into the future with a flexible approach.
Vlisco was founded by Pieter Fentener in Vlissingen in 1846, making it the oldest and biggest producer of fabrics in the Netherlands. The market is changing at break-neck pace and Vlisco can’t stay behind. Frank Vroklage, Programme Change Manager at Vlisco tells us: ‘All our brands need a business redesign – Vlisco, Uniwax, GTP and Woodin. We want all our factories and sales offices to start running on the same JD Edwards EnterpriseOne system, as this will bring the transparency and uniformity we need to react flexibly to future developments.
Vlisco wants to create transparency in the organisation with an up-to-date, integral system. We want a clear overview of what is sold at what price, how many items there are in stock and how many items still need to be produced, whether in the Netherlands or in Africa.
In order to achieve transparency it is important to do more than just registering production data, purchasing data, sales data and inventory data in the same system. We must also use the same coding system and structures everywhere around the world. Before the new ERP system was implemented, there were no central guidelines for coding systems. A lack of alignment between the coding systems meant there were no detailed overviews of inventory.
During the project some processes have been improved and various new processes have also been implemented. Patrick Verkuilen, IT manager at Vlisco, gives an example: ‘Purchase orders from our African locations are now immediately entered into JD Edwards, increasing efficiency, reducing the number of mistakes and giving much more transparency in order processing.’
Decoupling sales orders from job orders allows for late allocation. Vroklage: ‘Fabric printing requires multiple operations, some of which are manual, and this can result in small anomalies in the print. Because this is undesirable, the fabric is cut as soon as an anomaly is found, which makes it impossible to determine how many 12-, 6- or 4-yard lengths of fabric will be produced beforehand. By decoupling sales orders from job orders, we can easily influence sales order fulfilment at the last minute. We can even decide where to send the products just before they are shipped. The changing market means that flexibility is of the greatest importance.’ The new system also facilitates direct delivery. The old ERP setup was primarily focused on purchasing raw materials for the factories. The new setup also supports purchasing finished products, which can be delivered to the sales offices directly by the supplier.
Vlisco wants to be ready for future developments One option is developing innovative new materials, another is outsourcing the production of certain fabrics. Developing new markets could also be a fruitful opportunity, just as the further development of e-commerce and distribution. Vlisco wants a system that allows quick and flexible access to such opportunities, a system that can grow alongside the company. Partnering up with Cadran seemed like the right solution: Vlisco had already been using JD Edwards 8.10 in its Dutch factory, and the Ivory Coast factory had already seen the implementation of JD Edwards 9.1. Cadran also implemented JD Edwards 9.1 for the sales and supply chain organisation of the Vlisco brand.
Specific fashion-related aspects
Vroklage: ‘Many of the orders placed concern products that are yet to be made, but in some cases we manufacture the products before they are sold. Buy-sell or sell-buy, we operate in both ways, so it is important for us to have a flexible supply chain.’
The speed at which new products are launched was also an important factor. New designs and colour combinations are constantly being created, and the Apparel module in JD Edwards provides a great solution for the non-stop stream of new articles. This module greatly simplifies managing articles with multiple attributes (different sizes, colours, etc.) and includes matrix windows with systematic overviews of existing variants that can be used during various queries and transactions. Vroklage: ‘We use this functionality for Vlisco and for the other brands, because it also allows us to pass down high-level design features to different colours and sizes. This makes managing the system a lot easier.’
JD Edwards also allows users in the European and various African organisations to work with their own languages and local currencies.
The cooperation between the two companies during the project was very successful. Vroklage:
‘The cultures at Vlisco and Cadran meshed very well, culminating in a close partnership. We’re both open and direct, and Cadran was a proactive partner in putting forth new proposals and finding pragmatic solutions for problems in the processes and the project as a whole. It was clear that their consultants had extensive knowledge of the processes and were very capable of challenging our requirements.’
The implementation phase and aftercare went off without a hitch. Vlisco put a lot of time and attention into informing their clients and suppliers about the changes, so that the transition would not have a negative impact on them either.
Verkuilen: ‘At the moment we are running three different systems in our three factories. The Dutch Vlisco factory is running on JD Edwards 8.10, the Uniwax factory in Ivory Coast is running on 9.1, and the TSG factory in Ghana has its own custom system. After partnering up with Cadran, the sales and supply chain organisation of the Vlisco brand made the transition to JD Edwards 9.1. Although we’re already experiencing the enormous advantages this transition has had to offer, sales and logistics are still operating separately from manufacturing. By integrating them into the same system, we would greatly reduce overall complexity, so that’s one of the steps we would love to take in the future.