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The design of XML application to support production information exchange in garment industry.

Abstract: Many enterprises in the garment industry involved in supply chain management use isolated computer systems, while still exchanging information in their business operations by paper. This leads to inefficiency of collaboration and reentry of data creates problems in the system of supply chain management in the industry. One information technology application which can facilitate the communication and improvement of the collaboration within and between enterprises is Extensible Markup Language (XML). This research demonstrates a role of XML in managing the supply chain both inside and outside enterprises. A sample development process of garment manufacturer was constructed by interview and the business process was mapped using an IDEF0 and IDEF3 diagram in order to analyze the problems and develop solutions. The application was developed according to the current business model. Results revealed that the developed applications can communicate with each other properly. Also the XML converter application can convert an XML purchase order document to a production order which can reduce the document conversion time and mistakes from re-typing. Moreover, the XML tracking order application can also generate an XML order status so that a salesperson can be aware of the current order status, which helps the communication with the customer more accurate and more comfortable.

Key Words: Internet Solution, Logistics, XML


Information technology has played an important role to supply chain management because it increases an organization's agility in responding to customer and market and strategic requirement by providing information flow inside and outside the company continuously (Sahin & Robinson, 2004).

Many garment enterprises have used computer systems amongst themselves, while they still exchange information on papers. It has presented such an inefficiency of collaboration and re-entry of data in the management of supply chain in the garment industry.

One of the information technologies which can facilitate the communication and improvement in the collaboration between and inside enterprises is the Extensible Markup Language (XML). XML is a text-based format that uses HTML-like tags to structure data (Fraser & Livingstone, 2002), so it could read or write any particular data inside of the HTML-like tags by any computer platform. XML has been discussed widely in many fields such as in construction projects (Zhilianga et al., 2004), health care (Schweiger et al., 2005), security in XML financial (Boritz & Won, 2005).

This research aims to demonstrate the roles of using XML for managing supply chain both inside and outside of a garment enterprise case study, which produces high quality men's shirt by using IDEF0, IDEF3 diagram and a software prototype to solve these problem as well as to indicate the advantages and drawbacks of using XML in this case study.


2.1. Gathering the information

The process started at gathering information comprising of both primary data and secondary data from the department that deals with the developing sample in garment manufacturing in order to map the business process. The primary data were derived from the unstructured interview of each department of the garment manufacturer that involve in sample development such as marketing department, research and development department, purchasing department and store department.

The secondary data came from the documents such as sale order form from customer, purchase order form, and sampling order document.

2.2. Analysis of using XML application

After the current business model had being created, it was used to analyze in order to identify problems and to create the Proposed bussiness model, which is based on XML and designed to improve the current operation process.

The application from the current business model will be developed by using ASP.NET and VB.NET:

--ASP.NET technologies are used for creating web applications for customer to send the sampling order to the garment company over the internet.

--VB.NET technology are used for developing two applications in the communication between the marketing department and the research & development department in the garment manufacturer by passing XML on the local network.


3.1 External information sharing

The current business model which describe a situation as an ordered sequence of events, as well as describe any participating objects and associated rules (BPwin, 2003) the process began at customers browsing for orders which come from various brand name like VAN HEUSEN and DANIEL HECHTER and then key-in the product detail by using software and print out and send to salespersons of garment manufacturer by fax or email.

The salespersons then passed on the product detail to the research and development department (R&D) in order to develop the shirt's pattern. After the shirt's pattern is developed, the salespersons will then send the developed product detail back to the customers until they are satisfied. The garment manufacturer then send the quotation to their customers.

If the customers accept the quotation they will then send a sales order to the garment's salespersons. Salespersons will then have to convert the sales order from the customer to a sample order which will be used for making the product in manufacture by re-keying the information using MS-EXCEL, which often not only produce the wrong product but also wastes time. After the sample order was created, it will be distributed to every department for production.

According to the problems explained above, It could be improved by automating a documentary conversion activity using XML. The customers begin keying-in the product detail using XML Application to generate a XML purchase order file (XMLPO) and send the XMLPO to the manufacture through Email or FTP (File Transfer Protocol). After the salespersons received the XMLPO, they can open it and convert them to XML sample order or record them into their database server and distribute it to all departments without re-keying the information.

3.2 Internal information sharing

After the salespersons of the garment manufacturer received and converted sale order to sample order, they printout and sent to R&D departments to make a sample product. While the production was performing, the customers asked for their order status but the salespersons could not answer until they walk down to the production line looking for the customer's order.

It has presented such an inefficiency of communication which could be solved by implementing the XML tracking order application which uses XML file as a mean to link the information between salespersons in marketing department and staffs in R&D department.

3.3 Prototype

After the Proposed business models were created, the next step is to develop a prototype. There are three prototypes, the first one is XML purchase order application, the second one is XML converter application and the last one is XML tracking order application.

The XML purchase order application from figure 7 is used for customers to make a purchase order which is to be sent to garment manufacturer through email or FTP by keying-in the product detail such as brand name, shirt style, colors, quantity and accessory detail and then pressing on the create XML button to generate XML purchase order.

When the salespersons of garment manufacturer recieve XML purchase order. For the first time, they have to map between XML purchase order(customer) and sample order(garment) using XML converter application by dragging one of the purchase order node to another one of the sample order node (see figure 8), save the mapping information and then press the press to convert button to generate XML sample order.

On the second time around the salespersons can open the XML purchase order file, load the maping information and press a convert button to generate XML sanple order. When the salespersons already have XML sanple order they could send them over to the R&D department through the Local Area Network (LAN).

After the R&D department staffs recieves the XML sample order, they could open it to perform sample development. As they are still performing development, they can key-in and generate XML product status using XML tracking order application and send to saleperson.


Although the implementation of XML seemed to solve the problems in supply chain management in the garment industry but there are still some limitations to be discussed. First the implementation of XML would be successful if all party accepts an agreement and willing to cooperate. The use of XML in this case study would be most effective for the regular customer. Finally an implementation of XML would be much more effective if all party use the same information standards.


In this paper, the characteristics of the exchanged information in garment industry are based on one garment manufacturer's case study, which produces high quality men's shirt. Through the use of IDEF0 and IDEF3 diagram to depict the current business process with aims to find problems within the activities and create new business model according to the XML approach with aims to improve the current work efficiency.

Moreover, we also created three prototypes to make it more tangible. As a result, the system using XML between enterprises can reduce re-typing errors and document conversion time and improve the production accuracy. However the document conversion using XML converter application still has limitation. For example, it can convert only text which means that the application cannot convert the picture to text. Therefore some data must be converted manually. On the other hand, the system using XML inside enterprises can accommodate efficient collaborative work among R&D staff and salespersons.


Boritz, J.E. & Won G. (2005). Security in XML-based financial reporting services on the Internet. Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, Vol., 24, pp. 11-35.

BPwin software tutorial, Computer Associates International, Inc. 2003.

Fraser, S. & Livingstone, S. (2002). Beginning VB.NET XML Essential XML Skills for VB.NET Programmers. Peer Information Inc.

Sahin, F. & Robinson, P. (2004). Information sharing and coordination in make-to-order supply chains. Journal of Operations Management, pp. 1-20.

Schweiger, R.; Brumhard, M.; Hoelzer, S. & Dudeck, J. (2005). Implementing health care systems using XML standards. International Journal of Medical Informatics, Vol., 74, pp. 267-277.

Zhilianga, M.; Hengb, L.; Shenb, Q.P. & Juna, Y. (2004). Using XML to support information exchange in construction projects. Journal of Automation in Construction, pp. 629-637.
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Author:Naenna, T.; Wongwitdecha, K.
Publication:Annals of DAAAM & Proceedings
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9THAI
Date:Jan 1, 2005
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