In a fluid society, in constant movement and mutation, digitization has become barycentric for companies that intend to project themselves into the future by turning their gaze to the international market. An operation that consists not only in transferring registered mails by e-mail or transcribing files on the computer, but in transforming the entire business process in the name of speed, performing execution and efficiency.
Even the world of yarns has had to deal with this metamorphosis with the definition of new paradigms and services that have made digital their focus.
Yarnbank by Shima Seiki (www.shimaseiki.com) was born in this context and is the sublimation of the requests for speed and immediate accessibility of the market and of the needs of the players in the sector.
Yukiho Arita, yarnbank Product Marketer, is convinced of this.
Digitization and yarns, an ever closer marriage as the yarnbank project also confirms. How and when was the idea born?
Shima Seiki’s design system has realized virtual fashion design using digitized yarn for more than 20 years. For about the past 10 years, we have been collaborating with leading yarn suppliers mainly in Italy to promote the digitization of yarn through what we called the ‘Digital yarn project’. Tollegno was a key member of this project. In recent years, due to production based on inaccurate projections, problems concerning over-production, dead stock and their disposal have become an increasingly significant social issue and there has been more emphasis placed on solutions to shorten lead time for sampling, reducing wasted resources and traceability of production. One of SHIMA SEIKI’s solutions is yarnbank, a web service that digitally connects yarn suppliers and their customers, presented at the ITMA exhibition in June 2019 and officially released in September 2020.
Yarnbank: what does it actually consist of? What is the plus for companies?
There are two major advantages of yarnbank. One is for users (fashion brands, designers and knitting companies) and the other is for yarn suppliers. For users, the efficiency of daily work improves by utilizing yarnbank that is the world’s first centralized platform where it is possible to obtain yarn information, compare various yarns, and send inquiries if there is a yarn they want to use. Up to this point, other companies can offer similar services. But what is unique about yarnbank is that users can use the digitized yarn data to develop digital samples. Before ordering actual yarns, they can download digital yarn data and adopt it in the initial phase of product planning as virtual sampling. Consequently, they can significantly reduce lead time and cost for product planning. By using visual data, it becomes possible to clarify instructions to suppliers and begin production smoothly. Virtual sampling is receiving more attention as COVID-19 restricts international shipping and travel.
What are the benefits for yarn suppliers?
For yarn suppliers, yarnbank makes it possible to connect with fashion brands and knitting factories all over the world, and to obtain new business opportunities. As it is also possible to acquire the number of page views, downloads and yarn data usage, yarn suppliers can understand how much demand there is for their yarn. At the same time, statistics of customer trends on yarnbank are also reported, so that yarn suppliers can analyze and prepare for raw material procurement and dyeing in advance, preventing lost opportunity and reducing the risk of dead stock.
How do digitization and sustainability intersect in this project?
By digitizing yarn, yarn suppliers will be able to approach and provide more product information to customers than ever before, without increasing the amount of resources required to create color books. For the user, product planning and sample production can be digitized using yarn data, and manufacturing can be carried out without wasting time and resources. If digital transformation of the knitwear value chain progresses and waste in manufacturing is reduced, damage to the environment can likewise be reduced.
How many companies have joined the project today?
As of January 2021, 38 yarn suppliers are registered. They come from all over the world such as Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, New Zealand and Mongolia. Users are registered in 73 countries. This means that yarnbank as a digital platform allows yarn suppliers to contact customers in areas where it is otherwise difficult to reach.
Are you thinking about the evolution of this project? Or are you opening up to other perspectives?
Our first goal is to make yarnbank the standard platform for yarn. Now that it is difficult to visit exhibitions in person, we are aiming for a service that can provide all the latest information on yarns anywhere in the world. Our next step is to make yarnbank a more convenient tool for designers and buyers looking for safer and more eco-friendly materials, by providing information on third-party certification for safety and environmental soundness. For the future, we plan to provide information on traceability for raw materials that consumers can use for purchasing high-quality, safe knitwear.
With a view to new projects, which is the direction?
We also plan to promote digital transformation (DX) in the knitwear value chain for other stages beside yarn sourcing, to provide a better business environment in the future. We not only aim to sell knitting machines, but also develop an innovative business solution that meets the industry’s demands and contributes to the efficiency and revitalization of the entire fashion industry.
Curiosity: who is Shima Seiki?
Japanese company leader in the production of computerized flatbed knitting machines, with its complete systems integration (planning, production, sales promotion and retail), has dedicated its products and services to the knitting industry through the application of the latest computer technology. Shima Seiki has also been a pioneer of WHOLEGARMENT® knitwear (production of an entire garment without sewing and using only the amount of yarn required to create a single garment) and is known worldwide for APEX series 3D design software