November 12, 2020
As print shops face the new reality of workplace adaptations resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, many apparel decorators are questioning whether their everyday processes will support the new way of conducting business — specifically with regard to maintaining social-distancing requirements and modifying physical workspaces.
Companies already using shop-management software have found that they have a distinct advantage, as the streamlined processes, automated functionality and efficient workflows that are hallmarks of enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions make these necessary adjustments easier. As an apparel-decorating shop, are your current processes ready to support the new way of doing business?
If not, maybe it’s time to invest in software that can provide the improved support you need. The following are several features of such software that support the new way of doing business:
Centralized data within apparel-decorating software allows interdepartmental visibility of information as orders make their way through the system, requiring minimal in-person interactions. Each step’s completion prompts an alert or notification, requiring further action to keep the order moving.
For example, customer art approval prompts electronic notification of the art department so they can then complete their work. This limits employees’ proximity to each other, often required for handing off information. Supportive data and job-related information are available in the ERP solution at each step in the process for staff in various departments to view, including color options, thread colors, exclusive designs, run times, job history, customer artwork and more. This information easily can be accessed and updated, as needed.
Searching old files or asking co-workers for historical artwork no longer is necessary. Automated data integration, from order entry through final-product shipping, unifies print-shop tasks by managing movement and flow, requiring little or no human-to-human interaction.
Print-shop software reduces paper flow on the production floor and throughout the entire business, eliminating the need for close employee contact when sharing documents. The production center and shop-floor applications found in an ERP solution supports this paperless process by using digital devices to carry out the specifics for each particular job.
By accessing the information on a tablet or other hand-held device, the production-center operator can access job details — including machine schedules, job order, break times, artwork details, special instructions and other pertinent information — without printing a work order. Integration with a warehouse-management system (WMS) allows efficient inventory tracking, locating and processing in a contactless environment with barcodes and hand-held scanners.
With more customers than ever requesting emailed invoices, the option of batching them saves the accounting department both time and paper. In the ERP solution, it’s possible to produce a queue of recently fulfilled orders and produce a digital batch of open invoices to email customers quickly and efficiently without printing and mailing paper copies.
As more sales reps continue to work from home and business travel is reduced, taking advantage of the digital nature of ERP solutions helps to remotely facilitate the quote-to-order process. This functionality allows sales reps to create, manage and email quotes to customers.
The quote-to-sales order-conversion tool helps to eliminate dual data entry. Sales-order import functionality also allows easy sales-transaction entry, transmitting more accurate information and eliminating dual data entry, while also contributing to a paperless process.
An ERP solution supports using individual tablets or devices to eliminate sharing among employees, and it removes the need for continual sanitizing throughout the day to meet new CDC cleaning guidelines. With each employee using an assigned device, the amount of necessary sanitation is decreased.
This mobility also supports the processes and procedures of the WMS to streamline receiving, picking, inventory movement and physical counts; stock replenishments; tracking order statuses; and other tasks. Mobile devices can communicate company-specific messaging to employees in the print shop, providing a configurable communication tool for management to quickly and efficiently disseminate information regarding safety standards, cleaning times, morale boosters and other work-related information or reminders.
Customizable dashboards can direct information to particular teams or individuals within the shop, as well as provide instructions and workflows to cover jobs when an employee is absent, eliminating the need for binders or files with instructions. From a management standpoint, an ERP solution’s mobility means business insight is available anywhere — from any device — to allow viewing of KPIs, reporting and analytics, providing full visibility of the entire business’s operations.
Vendor Integrations & Web Stores
Supplier integrations help to gain new sales and customer reorders by ensuring the flow of real-time inventory information and the ordering of supplier stock without logging into siloed systems. This creates greater efficiency by facilitating quicker turnaround times and limiting backorders.
These integrations transmit quotes, order entry and purchase orders between suppliers and the software with real-time prices and inventory data. With the public’s increasing comfort level with online shopping due to COVID-19, ERP software that integrates with online shopping carts and digital storefronts via the Internet provides an essential function for today’s print shops to remain competitive and garner new business. By seamlessly transmitting orders into the system, along with product details, artwork and other order information, manual interaction and dual data entry are unnecessary.
Using e-commerce solutions and storefronts that accommodate a variety of marketplaces with a high-volume capacity allows for the possibility of higher traffic, increased exposure and — in turn — higher sales. Print-shop software that integrates directly with third-party applications and e-commerce sites in real time reduces labor costs and data-entry errors, in addition to streamlining and automating the order-entry process.
In the new world of workplace changes as a result of COVID-19, decorated-apparel shops are faced with the same challenges as many other companies in trying to determine if their current workflow processes support the new way of doing business. Implementing business-management software designed for apparel decorators can help, as it has functionality that inherently supports social distancing and altered physical workspaces that constitute the new normal in today’s business environment. These things include company data visibility, paperless processes, mobility, vendor integrations and web stores. Using these supportive processes in your shop can provide a distinct advantage in an uncertain time and a competitive marketplace.
Adam Brister is the director of Impress and FlexPack. He has been with OSAS for more than 11 years and oversees the Impress division by focusing on ensuring technology solutions meet current and future market demands. For more information or to comment on this article, email Adam at Adam.Brister@osas.com.
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