Weaving Precision into Apparel: Mitigating Upstream Risks in the Value Chain with the Smart Control Room


The value chain in the apparel industry begins when a customer places a development order and ends with the delivery of the final product. While there are numerous systems and processes in place to track and mitigate risks in the downstream phase (production to delivery), the upstream phase (product development to production start) lacks a foolproof system to highlight discrepancies or delays that could disrupt the entire value chain.

As industry expert John Thorbeck, Chairman of Chainge Capital, once said, “Speed and responsiveness are the new currencies of the apparel industry, and success depends on the ability to manage complexity and uncertainty in the supply chain.” This underscores the importance of addressing the lack of visibility and control in the upstream processes.

A large apparel manufacturer in South Asia, which has thousands of developments occurring simultaneously at any given time, approached Emojot due to a lack of visibility and control over these upstream processes. This absence made it challenging to perform root cause analysis and take corrective action promptly.

The Smart Control Room Solution

To address this challenge, Emojot and the client joined forces to devise the revolutionary concept of a “Smart Control Room” – a centralized location with a dedicated team responsible for monitoring and controlling upstream processes in the value chain. The primary goal of the Control Room is to quickly identify and address upstream risks, ensuring smooth downstream operations and timely product delivery. In addition, the solution offers real-time analytics on the operational front, enabling proactive action and interventions to further enhance efficiency and effectiveness.

Emojot’s Implementation: Smart Control Room Dashboards

Emojot worked closely with the client to develop the Smart Control Room Dashboards, which provide real-time visibility and control over the critical upstream processes. These dashboards cater to the specific needs of key areas in the upstream value chain, ensuring that the entire organization is aware of any potential risks and can take timely corrective action.

Some of the key dashboards include:

  • Problem Escalation Dashboard: This dashboard facilitates effective duplex communication and follow-up on identified problems in an extremely dynamic operational environment ensuring that they are addressed promptly and do not impact downstream processes impacting thousands of front-end and plant employees.
  • Production, Planning, and Control (PPC) Task Tracker: This dashboard tracks the on-time completion of essential upstream activities to ensure the timely freezing of production plans, enabling smooth downstream production and on-time delivery. A configurable scoring mechanism is used to determine the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for timely task completion.
  • Production, Planning, and Control (PPC) Data Tracker: This dashboard centralizes all metrics related to upstream activities, enabling data-driven insights and trend analysis. This allows for proactive measures on any underperforming metrics, mitigating potential future risks.
  • 5M Dashboard: As a risk forecasting mechanism, this dashboard helps identify potential issues early on, allowing the team to monitor the forecast accuracy in real-time and address them before they become critical.
  • Loading Dashboard: This dashboard provides visibility on the loading status for upcoming months, enabling leadership and decision-makers to take quick action whenever gaps are identified. This ensures minimum plant idling and high production efficiency, which all lead to a smooth operation from upstream to downstream. 

These innovative dashboards are supplemented with a central governance mechanism, with dedicated personnel monitoring them daily and escalating issues as needed. This ensures that upstream risks are managed effectively, and any potential delays or disruptions are addressed proactively.

Return on Investment (ROI)

The Smart Control Room Dashboards not only streamline upstream processes but are also expected to deliver significant return on investment in the near term. The ROI was calculated by analyzing the cost of upstream failures and identifying the portion of those costs that could be eliminated through the implementation of the Smart Control Room Dashboards.

As stated by McKinsey & Company, “A well-executed supply chain digitization initiative can help apparel companies reduce lead times by 2-8 weeks and inventory levels by 20-30 percent.” By providing greater visibility and enabling timely upstream solutions, the Smart Control Room Dashboards have the potential to eliminate 20%-30% of upstream failures. This reduction in failures would translate into substantial cost savings for the client in the future.

Already, yearly targets have been set to further reduce the cost of upstream failures, thanks to the enhanced governance achieved through the Smart Control Room. Although the dashboards have been rolled out recently, the client has already experienced a considerable ROI, demonstrating the effectiveness of this innovative solution.