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Posted Date: 6/1/2003

[TC]2 Event Addressed Breaking Down Supply Chain Boundaries

By Karen Davis

The Global Supply Chain Forum, produced by [TC]2, the Textile/Clothing Technology Corp., gave participants an overview of soft goods supply chain dynamics, software systems and international logistics.

The event, held this past April at [TC]2's technology center in Cary, NC, was sponsored by Blinco Systems Inc., the developer of 3rdwave synchronized supply chain execution and ERP II software, and UTi Worldwide Inc., an international supply chain management company providing air and ocean freight forwarding, contract logistics and customs brokerage services.

The forum drew a diverse crowd of about 40 participants, mainly from furniture, apparel, textile and academic fields. Some of those in attendance were members of [TC]2, a non-profit organization recognized worldwide for thought leadership in areas including 3-D body measurement, mass customization business models, supply chain strategy, sourcing analysis and value-added coaching.

Explaining the inspiration to stage the event, David Blinick, president, Blinco Systems, said: "As the textile/apparel industry moves its sourcing offshore, the ability to manage its supply chain has become more of an issue."

A speaker at the event, Jim Tompkins of Tompkins Associates, began his talk by describing a recent visit to Hot Topic, a mall-based retail chain specializing in apparel, accessories, gifts and music for teen-agers. Hot Topic strives to take timely advantage of the correlation between music videos, alternative artists and teen-age fashions. This goal requires a near instantaneous supply chain, noted Tompkins, who adapted Hot Topic's motto, "It's all about the music," into his presentation's theme, "It's all about the supply chain."

"It's not about your company. If you are still focusing on what your company is doing, then you are toast," Tompkins said. "I'd rather be in an OK company in a great supply chain than in a great company in an OK supply chain. The big picture has to do with synchronization and agility."

Another presenter, Al Cataldo of UTi Worldwide, discussed the impact of new security measures and other factors that will affect shipping cost and turnaround times going forward, and shared lessons from last year's West Coast port disruption.

"All those containers on all of those vessels coming out of Asia at the height of the Christmas shipping season [were] just sitting offshore like sharks circling," Cataldo said. "The domino effect was unbelievable. There was a huge shift to air freight. Instantly we had huge backlogs. People are still stressed out over it."

Companies that had a plan in place prior to the disruption fared much better than those that waited, hoping the dispute wouldn't cause a shutdown, he emphasized.

ALFRED DOCKERY, based in Clemmons, NC, is editor of The HunTex Report, a newsletter for industrial textiles, and has been writing about textiles and related industries for 15 years.



Karen Davis . 919-380-2156 kdavis@tc2.com . www.tc2.com

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