Edentel manufactures specialty fabrics. In more than 1,000 varieties, from lace and gauze to elastic fabrics, with a great variety of types, weights and colours. It has a large customer base throughout Spain and is regarded as one of the leading players in the business. Provided it has the necessary machinery, it can design and manufacture almost any product its customers ask for.
Edentel works to order. It has alw ays treated each product as a special case to be manufactured to the customer´s exact specifications. Unlike many of its rivals, it has not been badly hit by the crises that have beset the textile industry in recent years. The company view is that that is because it has succeeded in adapting, so as to be able to manufacture any product and offer delivery dates that can be relied on.
All this starts to change when the company begins to sell over the Internet. In response to pressure from its most faithful customers, Edentel starts to sell via its own company web site. Using its own server, Edentel has developed a B2B web application which allows customers to enter the specifications of their orders, and then alter them, even if the order has already gone into production. Clearly, the system gives customers great flexibility. But it also places great demands on the company.
In recent months Edentel has experienced difficulties in meeting delivery dates. Some of its customers are themselves electronically linked to their customers - taking advantage of the Internet, they pass changes made further down the line straight back to their suppliers (Edentel occupies a position quite far back in the fashion apparel manufacturers´ supply chain). For Edentel, what this means is frequent production scheduling and start-up problems, and considerable additional costs in terms of constant changeovers and loss of productivity.
Company management is convinced that standard recipes such as MRP or ERP systems are of no use to Edentel. The challenge is to define the company´s specific problem and find a solution that will work.