How SAP Helped a Leading Apparel Manufacturer Stay in Fashion with International Customers

If there is one universal truth, it’s that fashion is fickle.

In the apparel industry, what’s in fashion one day may be out of fashion the next. So, if you’re an apparel manufacturer, you need the most efficient, responsive, and innovative operation possible. That way, you can keep up with ever-changing demand and stay in fashion with your retailer customers — as Crystal International Group, Ltd. (Crystal) has accomplished with great success.

Established in Hong Kong in 1970 by Kenneth and Yvonne Lo, Crystal grew from a small workshop with a few sewing machines and knitting looms for producing sweaters into a global apparel leader. Today, the company has 20 self-operating manufacturing facilities in five countries, with approximately 70,000 employees. Every year, Crystal delivers more than 450 million pieces of apparel — and we’re not talking about just sweaters.

The company makes lifestyle wear; denim; intimates; outdoor apparel; sportswear for top brands, such as adidas, Nike, and PUMA; and, yes, sweaters for international brands, including UNIQLO, Gap, and H&M plus L Brands, which operates Victoria’s Secret.

The company is more than a top manufacturer. It’s also a social and environmental leader. In fact, Crystal has been ranked 17th out of 50 on Fortune Magazine’s “Change the World” list.

The goal of enhancing the outfit

Efficiency, responsiveness, innovation — as well as quality — are top of mind with Crystal. And that applies to all aspects of the operation, including manufacturing and business processes.

In terms of manufacturing, the company is always looking to boost its ability to satisfy customer requirements. What will it take to meet product specifications? Are there better ways to source and utilize raw materials? How can manufacturing processes and workflows, in general, be accelerated and streamlined? At the same time, the company wants to continue developing solutions to reduce discharges that might impact the environment.

On the business side, efficient processes help with Crystal’s order fulfillment, order-to-cash cycle, and other factors that can affect its bottom line and customer satisfaction.

Threads out of place

Until recently, the manufacturing facilities were “self-operating” without a strong information exchange between facilities and headquarters. Manufacturing was not fully integrated with the corporate business group’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution. For example, disparate ERP solutions were used to fulfill local requirements in China, often creating duplication. As a result, it was difficult to obtain real-time operational information to help make better decisions about production improvements, scheduling, inventory, deliveries, and more.

On the manufacturing and business sides, employees were dealing with many labor-intensive, manual processes that slowed down work. In the business area, there were time-consuming check-and-verify processes, such as bank reconciliations. Management lacked visibility during period-end closing — to name a few challenges.

The latest in digital ware

Working with SAP platinum partner DynaSys Solutions Ltd., Crystal has implemented an end-to-end intelligent enterprise solution to improve its operation. The solution leverages SAP S/4HANA for fashion and vertical business, in addition to SAP SuccessFactors, SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation, SAP Business Technology Platform, SAP Manufacturing Execution, and SAP Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence.

So, what have those SAP tools added to the Crystal wardrobe or enterprise? Plenty. The company has benefitted from the ability to gather real-time information from its facilities for better insights. Other advantages include enhanced end-to-end engagement with employees, such as aligning employee databases, and improved governance.

Integration is the new black

A host of labor-intensive processes covering ERP, finance, and HR are now accelerated and streamlined with automation. Shop floor operations are integrated with SAP ERP in real-time. Vendor invoicing is integrated with SAP payment processes. Required data objects from SAP and non-SAP systems are integrated, creating a central information hub repository.

Karl Ting, IS General Manager, Corporate Information Services, Crystal International Group

Crystal International Group

The company is more efficient and responsive, with more time to innovate. “As a fast-fashion enterprise, we need innovative and dynamic solutions to capture the ever-changing market opportunities and drive our business growth in sync with our priorities, “says Karl Ting, IS, General Manager, Corporate Information Services, at Crystal. “SAP solutions have helped us succeed.”

All this led to Crystal becoming a proud participant of the 2022 SAP Innovation Awards.

To learn more about this accomplishment, including their metrics from using SAP solutions, read Crystal’s SAP Innovation Awards pitch deck.

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