May 23, 2002, 12:00 AM

Managing manufacturing

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“A quality control auditor might visit factories in five to 10 countries in a matter of three weeks,” Isenberg says. “With e-SPS all they need to access updated information for quality control requirements is a web connection.” Waller envisions a much easier time managing these employees as well: “If I can download information to a wireless device and have it in real-time at a relatively low cost then I can equip everyone in the field with a device that keeps them connected,” he says.

Speed and flexibility

Neither Wilsons nor New Generation will discuss the cost of shifting from Wilsons’ existing system to a web-based system. But Waller says the benefits come not just from squeezing out costs such as multiple re-inputting of information into various programs but also from the speed with which Wilsons can respond to market changes. “Forget the cost savings and time savings—we gain a lot of mobility, flexibility and better data accuracy from this system,” Waller says. “If our merchants decide to make a new product or if we have a new factory open up in a new place, we can have it all up and running within an hour. All anyone needs is a web browser.” Waller himself notes that he has eliminated two hours a day he once spent updating projects via e-mail and other communications.

New Generation says its product can be affordable to companies of any size. “We have $40-million-a-year businesses using it and we have very big companies using it,” Isenberg says.

E-SPS has nine modules retail manufacturers can choose from that cover product development, RFQs and bids, production calendar, production tracking, collaboration communication alerts, packing, shipment tracking, exception reporting and an executive information and reporting system.“

The Internet has made it possible to change the way manufacturers do business,” says Alan Brooks, New Generation’s president. “Before this type of product was available manufacturers had to spend millions setting up shop in different countries and building their own infrastructure to manage it.” In today’s retail climate, where retailers themselves are looking to develop their own private label products, this software tool can provide new opportunities. “Now it costs pennies to connect via the Net and it makes manufacturing entirely possible,” he says.

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