The problem: enterprise networking in T/C

Moda-ML deals with one of the most relevant problem of the T/C (Textile/Clothing) industry in Europe, that is the enhancement of the flexibility and responsivity of its supply chain to gain competitiveness towards extra-european competitors.
Specifically, the aim of Moda-ML is to improve the intercompany process flow of the T/C supply chain by exchanging XML documents in a framework that integrates legacy systems and Internet human operators, where large and small companies are viewed as distributed resources of the process.

The information and communication technologies (ICT) can offer flexible application tools and open networks (Internet) that can enhance the management and operational aspects of the intercompany processes.
On the other hand, with few exceptions (large textile producers, distribution enterprises and very large garment manufacturers), the T/C companies cannot afford relevant investment in the ICT area and the ICT background is often very poor.
But, at the same time, especially in the small companies, it is felt the relevance of being able to efficiently exchange all kinds of messages with other companies, to avoid the tiresome cycle of get-a-message/decode-it/insert-it-in my system/process/produce-out-message/encode-it/send-it.

In the T/C sector, tools based on EDI, that were thought to exchange documents between large hosts, in the past years, have not been widely diffused because of their intrinsic complexity and of the characteristic of the supply chain (a lot of SMEs networked with larger companies).


Technological aspects

From a technological point of view Moda-ML faces the gap between the EDI (Electronic Document Interchange) technologies (that are used only by few big companies, in the T/C sector, because too expensive, too complex and with a too rigid technology structure) and the new Internet paradigm that is mainly based on XML (that is lacking of consolidated tools specifically dedicated to the T/C sector and has a very low entry level, with the consequence to enable each company or technology supplier to create its own, proprietary, information exchange protocol).

The XML technologies are well established (with the W3C official standard) and begin to be diffused, but well established sets of documents, dedicated to vertical application, are available only in some industry sectors (like computer industries with Rosetta.net) other than the T/C sector.
A specification (ebXML) has been established to build collaborative frameworks based on XML and Moda-ML assumes it as a reference to build a vertical implementation.

Finally, it is to be observed that the XML based exchange enables the communication between different systems, without an interface at programming level (DCOM, CORBA or with inclusion of external modules inside the systems).


The T/C supply chain and exportability of the approach to other sectors.

Some figures on Textile-Clothing industry in EU-15 (year 2002):

  • Employees: 3 Mill. in 1988, 2 Mill. in 2002
  • Turnover: 186 Bill. Euros
  • Companies: 108.000, the largest part are SMEs
  • Increasing competition of low labour cost countries
  • European T-C industry is world leader in Textile products


The T/C supply chain features that have been considered to define the Moda-ML approach:

  • The supply chain is complex, etherogeneus (by size and role of the actors), lacks of a leader

  • Time to design, produce and provide products to the shelves is many times the life time of the product.

  • Many information must be exchanged daily

  • Industrial processes and relationships are complex and very specific of the sector.

It is reasonable to consider the Moda-ML approach fitting other supply chains with similar features.

 A schema of the T/C supply chain
A schema of the T/C supply chain


Content provided by the Moda-ML initiative (www.moda-ml.org)