Created in 1850, Balsan is a key player in professional garment making. A Groupe Marck company, Balsan designs and manufactures corporate and ceremonial clothing, tailored and customized uniforms, and personal protective equipment and clothing for the public and private sector which comply with international standards.
The biggest challenge is to meet the new expectations of customers who seek increasing levels of customization with ever-shorter time-to-market deadlines. Balsan took up a two-fold challenge: update its manufacturing tools while maintaining a large part of its clothing production in France to capitalize on the group’s traditional savoir-faire, and meet 21st century challenges. Balsan’s objective was to produce customized clothing more quickly using intelligent manufacturing methods.
Solution — Fashion On Demand
Balsan was a pilot partner for the Fashion On Demand by Lectra solution. This alliance allowed Groupe Marck to take a new approach, involving not only the use of Fashion On Demand by Lectra’s connected cutter, but upstream software solutions as well, which are configured based on the company’s needs to best match its work methods while updating and accelerating the production process.
“Using a measurement chart, Fashion On Demand by Lectra allowed us to generate well-adapted and customized patterns with which to produce our garments,” reported Stéphane Quiniou, Industrial and Quality Director, Groupe Marck. “The solution also provides extensive flexibility: we can send the model to the cutter, select the cutting orders and even group them by fabric, and detect defects and launch re-cuts when necessary. This improves overall performance and delivers estimated productivity gains of 7 percent.”
The professional garment sector is highly diverse, in terms of clothing types and the materials used. The crafting techniques and ergonomics required for a Republican Guard uniform are completely different to those used for personal protective clothing. Previously, we had to take an individualized and time-consuming approach for each order. Patterns that required several hours of adjustments to each customer are now processed automatically once our patternmakers receive the data. “Lectra’s new solution allowed us to be far more reactive, far more flexible, and to adapt more quickly to specific requests from customers,” Quiniou said.
Balsan’s activities are spread over several sites in France and abroad, so the need for a multi-site approach was evident when designing a plan to modernize production tools, explained the Industrial and Quality Director. “We install machines at different sites and would like to pilot them from our central office. Our goal is to standardize cutting orders and production across all of our sites,” Quiniou noted. “With a simple click, the cutting order created in Calais launches a specific action at our site in Châteauroux. Being able to assign production to a specific production line with the resources and immediate availability needed to meet a customer’s deadlines is key.”
Implementing an automated solution relies on Cloud power to digitally process data, but the production of military uniforms or protective clothing involves information that is not only sensitive but also confidential. Before it began working with Lectra, Balsan asked for vigorous guarantees concerning data protection and the secure exchange of information to ensure the confidentiality of patterns. Lectra worked hand in hand with Balsan’s IT services to satisfy the professional garment-making specialist’s requirements. Tomorrow’s challenges aren’t only technical — they are environmental as well, and we cannot modernize without taking such considerations into account. “With Fashion On Demand by Lectra’s new cutting line, we discovered an energy-efficient cutter that removes the need for traditional accessories such as paper and plastic film, allowing us to reduce our carbon footprint,” Quiniou said.
“Working together with Lectra, we’ve been able to optimize the Fashion on Demand by Lectra solution so that it meets our requirements perfectly,” she added. “The next step is to go even further by connecting our ERP and production sites, so that once orders are received, the machine generates the customized uniform patterns and sends the cutting orders to the necessary workshops.”