Footwear Summit Highlights Supply Chain Solutions

Michael Clark
Fri, Jul 22, 2016
Footwear is just one example of various industries utilizing 3-D technology.
Footwear is just one example of various industries utilizing 3-D technology.

Collaborating with corporate leaders and hearing professionals speak on relevant topics is one way to stay on top of industry trends. Keeping abreast of current best practices and innovations allows companies to create more efficient strategies, which is especially important in supply chain management.

That's the aim of the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America annual Sourcing Intelligence Summit. A trade organization with roots dating back to 1944, FDRA has a long history and a wide variety of experience with different businesses. From the smallest family-owned shops to massive international enterprises, just about any company can learn from the organization's perceptiveness and intelligence regarding the footwear industry supply chain.

The meeting was held on July 19, 2016, and the audience took away crucial supply chain management information on everything from the global market to inventive production tactics, according to Footwear News. 

The Ups and Downs of Trade
While trade gives footwear companies the option to expand globally, this facet of supply chain management isn't without its challenges. As Footwear News explained, California's bisphenol A restrictions are cause for concern for many brands, as this causes the need for adjustments in the manufacturing process.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, in the past, BPA has been found in anything from baby bottoms to medical devices, and it is typically used as a hardening agent for plastic. However, health concerns related to this chemical have initiated new regulations. BPA has been linked to heart disease, diabetes and cancer, and now states are creating stricter policies, including California.

Specifically, in 2013, the state restricted certain levels of BPA in bottles and cups. Then in 2015, California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment officially added BPA to its list of chemicals that are known to cause reproductive toxicity.

Insights on Production
The FDRA summit also revealed plenty of insight on production innovations, namely in how technology developments can add efficiency to the manufacturing portion of the supply chain. According to Footwear News, 3-D printing and modeling was a big topic of discussion, considering its use has become widespread among companies. In fact, footwear was one of the first industries outside of automotive and aerospace to adopt this tactic - with Nike leading the pack in 2014 with its patent for technology that created 3-D printed shoes.

According to Digital Trends, Nike's new approach didn't totally change its supply chain process but rather enhanced it, and that's exactly what other footwear brands may seek to do in the near future. As Manufacturing & Logistics IT explained, 3-D printing has potential to create virtual warehouses where brands could print items on demand, decentralizing the typical one-stop-shop of production. By relocating in this way, enterprises can save on logistics, demonstrating the cost-containment benefits of 3-D printing.

The summit's discussion of 3-D brings up an important point about supply chain management: financial gains are only one consideration. Technology can also increase efficiency, especially with the help of mobile data collection tools. For example, companies with software that can integrate right into existing ERP systems can gain valuable transparency and connectivity along the supply chain. With the appropriate tools, employees can access data in real-time instead of waiting for responses from the warehouse or customer store. Saved time equals saved money, helping enterprises reach their supply chain goals.

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