LeapFRog IP (FP6-2003-NMP-NI-3, contract NMP2-CT-2005-515810) Integrated Research project, addressed to the re-engineering of the textile-clothing process, with a special focus on mass-customisation and virtual prototyping
The LEAPFROG Integrated Project ("Leadership for European Apparel Production From Research along Original Guidelines") attempts to modernise and ultimately
transform the clothing sector into a demand-driven, knowledge-based, high-tech industry
by exploitation of recent advances in a broad area of scientific-technological fields ranging from
nanotechnology and polymeric material science,
robotics and innovative joining techniques,
3D computer graphics and animation, to
e-business and management research.
The Rationale behind Leapfrog IP
The high-labour cost component
Clothing production in Europe suffers from the high labour cost component involved in garment manufacture which makes this activity largely uncompetitive in high-labour cost countries.
The quality component
The heavy quality critical human intervention in garment made-up operations leads to unusually high levels of faulty products - up to 20% even in well-run factories with qualified operators - unimaginable in most other industrial production processes.
Relocation or high-tech automation ?
Rather than tackling the challenge of developing high-tech production systems, clothing industry and distribution resorted to relocation to low labour-cost manufacturing locations often far away from the point of consumption.
This decreased unit production costs but inflated costs for supply chain organisation and logistics, quality assurance and IPR protection.
Capitalising on new design & virtual prototyping tools and new organisation concepts
Apart from high-tech production, other fields of potentially massive efficiency gains are:
the garment design and prototyping process which today remains much too time and cost intensive with its craft-like organisation, lengthy trial and error procedures and inefficient means of communication. the overall organisation of the clothing business with all its supply chain and further business partners. Inefficiencies in this area are responsible for frequent overstock as well as out-of-stock situations, for enormous missed business opportunities, idle capacity and waste problems on all stages of the supply chain. These inefficiencies are also responsible for the fact that, despite an every increasing choice of clothing products in Europe's shops, supply hardly kept pace with growing consumer expectations and too often frustrated shoppers miss the right size in their desired colour and style, complain about poor product quality despite high prices and finally spend their money on other consumer products.