What is a technical pack? and is it efficient for today’s manufacturing?

What is a technical pack? and is it efficient for today’s manufacturing?
Photo by Rubaitul Azad / Unsplash

A technical pack is a compilation of information about the product that will be manufacture.

A technical pack is a compilation of information about the product that will be manufacture.

A technical pack includes.

· Specification of measurements

· Bill of materials

· Sketches

· Artwork

· Packaging requirements

· Testing requirements

· Grading

· Labelling

· Fitting and production comments

· Fitting photos

Usually, this information is compiled in excel Microsoft spreadsheets that are called “workbooks or Technical packs”. These get shared back and forth with factories and internal teams to collaborate. Workbooks are the easy way to gather information and keep it in one place.

However, in my opinion it is not the most technologically advanced and efficient system to do this. The reasons being are, loss of productivity inputting information manually, risk to human error, large files that cannot be shared easily, risk for the files to get deleted or lost, files that get corrupted.

You would think that technology companies would have already picked up on this and created something better. Why haven’t they? Could it be because the companies who have the spending power are opting to create their own systems internally? or is there a lack of cohesion between doing business and manufacturing?

Most of the large systems that I have come across are built in for the commercial side of the businesses but not so much for the creative and technical. Some examples of these systems are SAP, PLM, PRIMA, CRM. Not only these systems are extremely expensive for SME’s but are not easily adaptable to cater for all the needs in a fashion business. Usually, businesses develop their own unique process to manage the creation and development of the product. Unfortunately, most tend to default to the good old excel workbooks because it’s more budget friendly and that is what everyone knows how to use.

Over the years working as a Garment Technologist, I have asked myself why isn’t anyone developing a software to improve productivity in the technical and creative departments? Then I finally worked for a company who had pickup on this productivity issue and were investing to do something about it! Instead of creating a new system for the technical/development team they were adapting their general PLM system and creating an extension instead. It was an eye opener for me to experience and see what a monster it is to take on and implement whilst expected to continue to do your job at the same pace(I will leave this one for another post). Even with all the money and resources, there were so many challenges along the way. One of the biggest challenges came to be the people who were creating the IT system did not work in production before. The main challenges that they faced were, lack of understanding the life cycle of the product, understanding communication between other departments, user experience when collaborating, change mindset to retrain/upskill personnel.

Not completely to the fault of IT people. Even if you have worked in the fashion industry, you know that the technical department seems to be a mystery to everyone. No one really understands what we do all day other than measuring samples. We come to the meetings and present amazing looking samples and then disappear. I have heard many terms to describe us some funnier than others, the unseen, the sales prevention team, the techies, the wear trial team, the rule makers, the gatekeepers. I believe many of us “techies” accept the nature of the role to be almost invisible because it gives us autonomy to make decisions and helps us avoid the power struggles that goes on at the office in the fashion industry.

However, it has been to technical personnel detriment because no one knows what we do and the importance of our role in the fashion business. Specially when it comes down to exploring and implementing sustainability. Technical teams seem to be perceived almost as human processors or data entry. That work culture is what makes change difficult not only in technology and processes but shared accountability, as it fuels the unwillingness to change. We have gotten so used to create, present, and meet deadlines that we seem to have forgotten to innovate one of the most important parts which is developing and manufacturing.

Why is this important? and why should we care to update systems? It is important because our productivity affects factories and suppliers. The way we pass on information is important because it puts pressure on the factories who depend on this. If they don’t receive efficient information, it results in financial repercussion and production mistakes that lead to waste. It affects the work wellbeing of people domestically and abroad.

There is a big need for operational innovation in product development and technical. The information we create is efficient in a technical pack, but our IT systems are not up to date with our times. This is not unique to a company but in my experience, this seems to be a working model that companies adapt for lack of viable IT options. Also, for the big financial implication that represents to invest in IT. We need technology that disrupts the old ways of working and is accessible to different size businesses if we want to see real change.

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