Byline: Jeanette Hye

NEW YORK — Qualytel-Empormex, an apparel manufacturer based in Puebla, Mexico, supplying such American companies as Gap, Tommy Hilfiger, The Limited and Lands’ End, has adapted two off-the-shelf software programs to deliver electronic product sketches to customers.
The company, which is overhauling systems to double productivity, is using the programs as a prelude to a full-blown product data management solution.
PDM is the electronic sharing of drawings and text between manufacturers and their customers, and manufacturers and their own factories. Many manufacturers and retailers are migrating to Web-based PDM that gives all interested parties access to design information at one central password-protected Web site. This insures that all design updates are recorded in one location and that everyone has access to the same information.
For Qualytel, Web product data management is still a few years away. The company does not want to invest in the system until its other technology upgrades are in place. As a stopgap measure, it has developed product data management functions of its own.
“We’re using our CAD system to design a garment and then we are mimicking PDM,” said Vincenzo Petrozzino, garment manufacturing vice president at Qualytel.
Petrozzino explained that the company is using EasyCAD, an off-the-shelf software program from Evolution Computing, Tempe, Ariz., in combination with its Microsoft Word program, from Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Wash., to create drawings and text that can be merged together in spec form. Those specs can then be e-mailed to its clients and its factories.
Until now, Qualytel has relied on hand-drawn sketches of product specifications, accompanied by text annotations that were handwritten or printed out from a computer and attached. Those specs were then faxed to customers.
Faxes, however, are not always reliable, said Petrozzino. It’s difficult to insure that the appropriate party has received the fax, and not every detail is always legible. Any time a modification is made, a new drawing has to be created and re-faxed.
Using the new computer-aided design software, which is intended to design just about anything from gardens to furniture, the company can simply reopen the file, make a change in design and send an updated e-mail to its customer.
The company has been testing the process for several months and is now designing a template that will be the standard form for spec communication.

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