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Case studies

IBM boosts quality and productivity at TAL

- One of the forerunners in the garment industry adapting to the supply chain management (SCM) around the world.

The tradition of quality

In 1947, Mr CC Lee started the very first spinning mill in Hong Kong. In the subsequent years he set up a number of textile mills, including fabric finishing. In the late 1950's, he extended the textile operations into garment making. Pursuing a common value for quality, all these operations were grouped under one holding company, and by merging with Jardine's finishing mill, Textile Alliance Limited was founded in 1962. The group underwent a re-organisation in the 1980s and the garment manufacturing section split to form TAL Apparel Ltd.

Streamlines business processes -- end-to-end

TAL is one of the forerunners in the garment industry adapting to the supply chain management (SCM) around the world. SCM is about optimizing business processes and business value in every corner of the extended enterprise, from its supplier's supplier to its customer's customer. SCM uses e-business concepts and Web technologies to manage beyond the organization, upstream and downstream.

TAL has been working closely with its customers on such SCM processes as sales forecasts, inventory management, production capacity scheduling,delivery and productivity, on dedicated private networks, since the early 1990s. This led to a very successful relationship with JC Penney by becoming each other's major partner. TAL laid down a milestone in mid-1995 for being capable of replenishing stock for JC Penney within one week from order to ship, significantly reduced from their standard six-months turnaround.


E-business, such a great idea...but what to do with it? The philosophy of quality, value and service extends into the new century. TAL Group has been running their in-house production system on the IBM Advanced System/400 (AS/400) system, along with Lotus cc:Mail and production facilities in Hong Kong and overseas offices. The evolving Internet paved the way for TAL to take advantage and grow with this emerging New Economy. When the Internet came along, TAL management decided to move forward with this incredible opportunity in the New Economy. By leveraging on the ubiquitous and extensive coverage of the Internet, TAL made use of the e-business model to be more responsive to its customers, both internal and external. First step is to establish a highly available and reliable network in the workflow area of their worldwide operations. IBM and Lotus have worked closely with TAL in the planning of their migration and the choice of platform since then. In 1999, after thorough evaluation of recommendation made by the IBM/Lotus team, TAL determined to migrate to the Lotus Domino platform on the AS/400 Dedicated Server for Domino (DSD) for its highly scaleable capacity for web hosting and web-site development. The connectivity of the DB2/400 database on both their AS/400 production and DSD systems made the implementation process of integrating workflow applications with their in-house systems much easier.

               Dr Harry Lee, Managing Director of TAL

"We have always been looking for ways to raise customer satisfaction by maintaining adequate stock, which is particularly important before the peak shopping seasons such as Thanksgiving and Christmas," said Dr Harry Lee, managing director of TAL. "We have tested several mainstream solutions in the market and found that IBM AS/400 DSD solutions delivered an unmatched level of reliability, performance and security that we need to control smooth running of operations from raw material supplies, garment design, production to distribution effectively."

Performance, productivity and partnership

In addition, the rock-solid stability and ease-of-use offered by the AS/400 DSD platform is a logical choice for TAL, enabling itself to fully functional e-business environment in which email, workgroup collaboration, and Web-enabled applications become mission-critical. Through its ease of management and its ability to reliably run a mixed workload on a single server footprint, Domino for AS/400 also delivers a lower total cost of ownership.


"With Lotus Domino applications on dedicated IBM AS/400 servers, we are sure all overseas offices can communicate instantly with us at the Hong Kong headquarters, to ensure our customers' demand, even for busy shopping periods, can be fulfilled without delay," continued Dr. Lee. "The IBM AS/400 DSD solution is tried and tested and is helping us achieve increased revenues and cost savings through reduced inventory requirements. The interconnect of our network with the Internet, as well as our trading partners and vendors, helps extending these benefits to other platforms." "IBM's leadership in e-business and supply chain solutions enables business organizations to simplify management across heterogeneous networks. For companies that rely on collaboration on a global basis, IBM AS/400 DSD is the answer providing end-to-end management for secure intranet access from offices around the world," said Dominic Tong, Executive, Software & Systems Brand, IBM China/Hong Kong Limited. "In addition, CIOs can depend on our ability to integrate multiple applications on a single network connection,while other solutions in the market require three or four."

Dedicated solely to quality Introduced in 1999, TAP Total Quality Management (TQM) program has been the yardstick for continuous improvement through customer responses to TAL products and services. Under the TQM program, TAL has been achieving faster communications, fewer order entry errors, less rework, etc. "TAL's reputation for service reliability comes from using technology and managing human resources to meet the highest possible service standards," added Dr. Lee. "With Domino R5, we will continue to push up the quality standard with our Pick and Pack System, Vendor Managed Inventory, coupled with EDI data from individual overseas stores to our rapid response manufacturing processes. In this way, we can replenish the shelves directly, eliminating costly warehousing and inventory problems."

Technology makes all the difference IBM offers integrated management for existing and future e-business platforms. The AS/400 DSD solutions simplify and accelerate TAL transformation to e-business supply chain management. As such, TAL is now able to extend the reach of their existing network to employees, customers, and supply-chain partners across the Internet, as well as raised productivity through better data integrity. IBM AS/400, along with Lotus Domino R5, enables TAL to consolidate the use, management and control of resources both inside and outside the firewall. Through its use of Internet standards, IBM AS/400 is tailored for e-business environments. IBM AS/400 DSD simplifies e-business by providing a cross-platform infrastructure scaleable to high-volume Internet services. By linking all existing applications and underlying platforms in a network and managing them from one central location, IBM AS/400 DSD simplifies network management and reduces cost. The IBM and Lotus team has started to implement the AS/400 DSD solution at TAL's Hong Kong headquarters, and full implementation throughout TAL's Asia Pacific offices is expected to complete within the next 2 years.

Fast Facts Solutions: AS/400 Dedicated Server for Domino Applications: Lotus Domino email, production scheduling, inventory control, delivery, productivity Key benefit: Supply Chain Management, Mission-Critical e-business applications

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