Case Study

IMPROVE 4.0 in Fashion



Fashion is a particular sector or at least that is how it is perceived by those who belong to it.

In reality, every sector has its own peculiarities: the challenge is to be able to find the most suitable modus operandi to bring the opportunities provided by the Smart Factory everywhere.

The needs in this sector can be summarized in these 4 macro-items:

  – item traceability

  – efficiency monitoring (OEE, OPE)

  – quality control

  – logistics management

 – last but not least, user-friendly graphic interfaces aligned with the corporate image

Case study fashion

Process breafing


Import the production order from ERP


Production planning


Procurement of raw materials


INBOUND acceptance and transfer


Process monitoring and traceability of items and/or semi-finished products


Calculation of process KPIs (OEE, OPE)


Monitoring of third parties


Quality control


Storage of finished product


Shipping OUTBOUND phase

Work order import and planner

It all starts when the job order is inserted into the ERP, which will send it to IMPROVE 4.0.

Then the productions in the various lines are planned through a scheduler, taking into account the expected delivery date and the other orders in the line.

Lines and productions are displayed in a single interactive dashboard: productions involving the same job/line/size etc… will be characterized by the same color. The information retrievable from this dashboard, for each job are:

  • Production start date
  • Order (Job/Line/Size)
  • Model
  • Takt time: ideal production time of an ite
  • Order delivery date
  • Production line
  • Quantity of items for the Job
  • Produced items (Real time)
  • Actual production time


Il Pianificatore

The planner

Procurement of raw materials

Planning is followed by the procurement of raw materials.

At this stage it is necessary to define the warehouse to be replenished, the component to be ordered, and the criteria that will be used to generate calls from the warehouse. IMPROVE 4.0 generates all the sub-stock rows that make up the material procurement requests in real time.

Monitoring and tracking

From here on, the process of monitoring and traceability of items or semi-finished products begins: the Kit can be equipped with a unique QR code that, once read, will show the description of the item to be processed according to the planner.

Operators on the line have screens showing synoptics by department, with traceability of the kits present in real time.

Assembly Lines

In order to take in count Real-Time traceability, Next has developed an Ad-Hoc interface to be able to check the progress of each individual station, with the operator’s name and the ID code of the kit being processed.

This is also displayed on an HMI at the edge of the line, which is useful for changing individual operators at various stations and for declaring causes of downtime generated by processing delays.

Calculation of process KPIs.

An example of data that can be derived from the process are:

– Cycle time

– Planned pieces

– Produced pieces

– Nonconformance

– OPE (Operator Performance Indicator).

– Individual station cycle times




The calculation of KPIs will also provide information in the medium and long term. For example:

– The OPE (Operator Performance Indicator). A KPI that takes into account targets (ideal production) and actual production for each shift

– The number of parts that came out “good” on the first shot

– The production per shift (or other time frame)

– The list of garment models shipped for each model in the selected time frame

– When the last station exits, the garment is to be considered finished, and this is where IMPROVE 4.0 adds the produced piece to the OEE calculation

Third party monitoring

Some tasks can be outsourced to third parties and thus ‘exit’ the internal process.

Nevertheless, it is also necessary to track these activities by recording their progress: IMPROVE 4.0 then records the end of the external phase in order to make the work order available for the next phase.

Quality Control

In the fashion industry, items can face multiple levels of quality control, especially if some repairable defect is found after an initial inspection. The operator will be able to describe and causalize the origin of the defect in real time.

Finished product storage and outbound shipping

Once the quality control phase is completed, the garment is transferred to the finished product warehouse.

Each QR Code is then read and the necessary labels are automatically printed.

The generation of the picking list is requested by the ERP, which will send this information to IMPROVE 4.0. At this point the load can be closed and shipped.

Once the shipment is closed, the picking list of shipped items is sent to the ERP which will generate the closing of the order.

End result

The total digitalization of the production process brings both immediate and far-reaching benefits in the long run.

First and foremost, it provides a true “snapshot” of current productivity, highlights weaknesses where waste is hiding.

But the fashion industry is particularly well suited to initiating “mass customization” projects, that is the most advanced frontier in industrial production. We then disengage from traditional mass production to allow anyone to customize the desired item. This can only be done easily through the creation of a fully digitized environment.

Digital is thus not a goal, but a premise for ambitious projects.

Let’s work together!