Dim Branded Apparel standardizes its integration processes using Talend and Altic

The DBApparel Group standardizes its global operations by developing integration interfaces using Talend Enterprise Data Integration, with the goal of increasing productivity and optimizing processes.
With Talend Administration Center integrated in the solution, we can manage both scheduling and operations at the same time, which results in productivity gains.
Christophe Varin, IT Operations Manager of the DBApparel

The Dim Branded Apparel (DBApparel) Group is a market leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of brand name underwear.  Including some of the most well-known global brands, namely DIM, Playtex, Lovable, Nur Die, Abanderado and Wonderbra, the DBA Group has 8000 employees in 20 countries (including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, Belgium and South Africa). Its mission is to create and market a unique portfolio of underwear brands that are affordable and provide a sense of well-being and pleasure. DBApparel is owned by Sun Capital Partners, an equity firm maintaining an extensive portfolio of regional and international companies.

Transformation and standardization of operational processes

In 2010, DBApparel launched a large project to transform its operations information system, supporting a major change in its organization method. Its objective was to standardize its IT practices: previously each brand managed its own operations, now each business entity (meaning each country) directly orders products from the “DBA Operations” division, which has its own IT department. A standard process model was developed in order to standardize operations for each country.

To complement this transformation project, we wanted a single interface tool capable of standardizing the incoming and outgoing processes of all of the IT systems involved in operations management,” explains Christophe Varin, IT Operations Manager of the DBApparel Autun site at that time.  “The activities concerned include PLM (product life cycle management), planning, supplier collaboration and data warehouses, as well as the execution and monitoring of orders. The objective is twofold: on the one hand, the goal is to standardize flows between the commercial systems of our six Business Units (about thirty flows) and the central ERP (QAD), and on the other hand, to eventually develop 200 interfaces dedicated to planning, PLM and supplier relations.”

Talend Data Integration to optimize processes

A study of the various solutions available on the market resulted in the selection of Talend Data Integration, a solution which offers, according to DBApparel, the best quality-cost ratio. Altic, a free software service company and a Talend Gold Partner, was assigned the task of interface development based upon the recommendation of Talend and external consultants.

Altic started the project with an exchange and communication phase with the DBApparel teams in order to better understand the logistics system and the existing exchange flows,” specifies Marc Sallières, co-founder and CEO of Altic. “This specification enabled us to define an initial perimeter of 25 priority integration flows, with one part involving exchanges between the COE (Centers for Operational Excellence) systems and the other concerning France (one of the group’s main business units). The initial flows were put into production three months following the start of the project, in compliance with the given deadlines.

Previously, data integration was completed on a semi-manual basis, via the availability of flat files on FTP servers. However, script maintenance and development was becoming increasingly complex to manage. Now, the Talend solution completes transfers, transformations and the management of flat files, based on the use of a pivot model avoiding point-to-point exchanges, which results in significant time savings and the optimization of processes. These files contain various types of information, from the brand order portfolios to the weekly and monthly projections, sometimes with significant volumes.

Productivity gains, complete documentation and reuse

Today, 55 flows (approximately 150 jobs) are operational in production and ensure data exchanges between the COE and Business Unit systems.  At the same time, all internal links to the COEs are managed by the Talend solution. The main benefit highlighted by DBApparel lies in the productivity gains obtained by using Talend Data Integration.

For example, one DIM planning system loading process that previously took 2 hours now is fully completed in 5 minutes. With Talend Administration Center integrated in the solution, we can manage both scheduling and operations at the same time, which results in productivity gains,” explains Christophe Varin. “While the development time has been decreased by reusing some of the existing flows, we also now benefit from a superior processing capacity which allows us to save even more time.”

Meanwhile, Altic developed a knowledge and best practices base which facilitates the collaboration of different developers. “The documentary monitoring offered by Altic is very efficient and transparent,” adds Christophe Varin. “Due to its superior knowledge and experience working with the Talend solution and its solid comprehension of our business, Altic knew how to respond to our needs and particularly to our time restraints. The complementary relationship of the Talend and Altic teams was an asset in taking full advantage of the solution and employing a reliable and responsive interfacing system.

While all of the DBApparel “Operations” information system interface flows are now completed through Talend Data Integration, other connections with systems that will be in production soon must be completed next (planning, production of certain BUs, establishment of a data warehouse for operations and PLM). At the same time, other DBApparel business units are starting to adapt the solution to interface different systems. To do this, they draw upon the catalog of programs already developed by Altic in order to save time in development.

For the group, the success of this project is strategic: we now have a scalable and easy to maintain interface system that is based on a single operating platform. We are perfectly equipped to complete our transformation project, which is essential in the current context of globalization, and to plan other developments in the future,” concludes Christophe Varin.