Datatex 2006 Users' Meeting
Topics included enhancing global competitiveness, new technologies.
TW Special Report
The meeting attracted 45 participants from domestic firms and five international firms; as well as representatives from Datatex, IBM Corp. and Board MIT. US-based attendees included employees from Belton Industries, Dorsett Industries, Dixie Group, Swift/Galey, Milliken & Company, Parkdale Mills, Syntec Industries, Kenyon Industries and Brookwood Laminating. Foreign participants traveled from Hong Kong, Turkey, India, Bolivia and Italy from companies that included Pacific Textiles, Ametex, Vardhman/Mahavir Spinning, Kota and Orta Anadolu. The mix of individuals and cultures made for lively discussions and extensive learning.
George L. Hodge, Ph.D., associate department head and director of graduate programs, Raleigh, N.C.-based North Carolina State University, College of Textiles, Department of Textiles & Apparel Technology & Management, spoke about burgeoning textile technologies that provide unique opportunities for textile marketing firms. Markets include sports garments with specialized attributes; protective garments for security workers; antimicrobial garments for healthcare; transportation and geo-textiles; and smart fabrics that can store and transmit data. He also provided statistical data demonstrating that firms with niche markets are far more profitable and enduring than those supplying non-differentiated products.
Olin Thompson, head of Providence, R.I.-based Process ERP Partners LLC, spoke to the group about supply chain issues that both confront and challenge firms in new global markets. One of the more interesting points made by Thompson — a widely known author and lecturer — is that no matter how far a firm is removed from the consumer, the overall efficiency of its supply chain is critical, as is the firm’s role in improving that efficiency. He also stated that in order to obtain competitive advantage, every firm should focus on service around the sale as a key issue and be proactive in adopting new techniques and technologies. A panel discussion followed in which each attending firm was asked to review its current status in the marketplace and envision new methods and practices to assure long-term advantage.
The balance of the meeting was used to explore software issues, as requested by the users, and to review new products being offered by Datatex. The most anticipated session was the demonstration of the latest release of the network oriented world (NOW) product, the new J2EE version of the package that offers both platform and database independence. Machine queue management (MQM), a new scheduling tool that graphically and economically schedules manufacturing equipment, was demonstrated to attendees. The remaining sessions were rounded out with discussions of planning, implementation, costing, shop floor tracking, management decision systems and the future of textile integrated manufacturing (TIM), the current iSeries version of the package. Time also was set aside for participants to network. Feedback from the users indicated that this was one of the most valuable segments of the meeting.
To finish the meeting, Ronnie Hagin, CEO, Datatex TIS, addressed attendees. Hagin revealed that 2005 was the best year yet for Datatex’s US operations. Worldwide, Datatex spent in excess of 15 percent of 2005 revenues for research and development, and it was the third straight year the company had spent such a significant portion of its income in this manner.