Textile manufacturing is a complex and multi-faceted industry requiring careful attention to detail to succeed. One of the most critical aspects of this industry is managing multiple product variants, as they quickly add up to the specifications and production complexity.

Whether you are producing cloth, yarn, or finished goods, it is essential to understand the steps you can take to manage product variance efficiently. This article explores the challenges of manufacturing highly variable items in the textile industry and provides practical tips for achieving better control and consistency in your production processes.

The main challenges of producing highly variable goods

The textile industry is known for its high variability, as manufacturers are often required to produce a wide range of products, each with its own unique set of materials, colors, and sizes. While this variability can be a source of creative inspiration and market differentiation, it can also create significant challenges when it comes to producing high-quality goods on a consistent basis.

Inventory management

Managing inventory levels is one of the biggest challenges of producing highly variable goods. With so many different materials and components required to produce each product variant, it can be difficult to keep track of what is on hand and what needs to be ordered. This can lead to stock shortages, delays, and increased costs.

Quality control

Another major challenge of highly variable textile production is maintaining the uniform quality of the output. With each product variant having its unique set of requirements, it can be hard to ensure that each item is produced consistently and adheres to the same high standards—especially when certain stages of the production process are outsourced. This can lead to production errors, quality issues, and dissatisfied customers, which can impair the manufacturer's reputation and financial performance.

Process optimization

Producing highly variable goods also requires a well-optimized production process that can quickly adapt to the changing requirements of each product variant. This can be challenging, as manufacturers must balance efficiency and consistency with the need for flexibility and responsiveness. If the production process is not optimized, it can lead to increased costs, longer lead times, and reduced competitiveness in the marketplace.

How can ERP solutions help manage product varieties?

These challenges require a comprehensive and integrated approach to be overcome, and this is where an ERP system can play a vital role.

Such systems can provide real-time visibility into inventory levels, production schedules, and order tracking, allowing manufacturers to respond to changes in demand or deliveries quickly. By automating many of the manual processes that are involved in textile production, ERPs can help reduce the risk of errors and improve efficiency, which can lead to significant cost savings.

In addition to these general benefits, ERPs can be particularly helpful in managing the production of multiple product variants. Specifically, some of them, like 1C:Drive, enable manufacturers to quickly and easily create and manage BOMs (bills of materials) featuring multiple components of each product variant, including raw materials, production processes, and delivery schedules.

By using standardized procedures and workflows, manufacturers can ensure that each product variant is produced consistently and to the same high standards. For example, in yarn production, around 5% of waste is considered acceptable, but it’s hard to predict the exact amount of waste unless there are standardized procedures. Without proper automation, a strong human factor can also add to the waste amount. Implementing an ERP system can improve quality control and minimize the risk of production errors, reduce waste and enhance overall productivity.

Another boon of automating variants management is more efficient cost and profit estimation. When there’s easy access to statistical data at the level of product variants, you get a profound and quick insight into what’s going on with various product lines and product types in terms of profitability. This allows for more informed and speedy decision-making, which is crucial for improving a company’s financial results.

However, many out-of-the-box ERPs are not so well-suited for textile manufacturing companies. This is mostly because they were designed to fit the processes of large enterprises with streamlined and standardized operations and, therefore, might lack the customization options required for textile producers. For example, most renowned ERPs do not provide variability within one product, which is so crucial in textile production.

In 1C:Drive, however, you can manage multiple variants of one product instead of adding multiple products. Such a hierarchical structure allows for greater flexibility and easier accountability of your production process. There are also rich customization opportunities, including building your own add-ons using the 1C:Enterprise low-code platform.

Final thoughts

Producing highly variable goods in the textile industry presents a number of challenges, including inventory management, quality control, and process optimization. Especially when talking about textile manufacturing, this is a robust yet very traditional market in many respects. So it might still be challenging to automate certain production processes and manage every step of production.

ERP systems offer a range of tools and features that can help textile manufacturers to tackle the challenges of producing highly variable goods. By providing real-time visibility, automation, and streamlined processes, these systems can help achieve better control and consistency in operations, leading to improved quality, reduced waste, and increased competitiveness in the marketplace.