ANTA, China’s largest manufacturer of sports footwear for the country’s domestic market, has selected a range of Delcam Crispin footwear design and manufacturing software to meet its future product development needs. The software will replace a mixture of design, costing and manufacturing systems installed currently at the company’s various design and manufacturing centres around the country.
While China is best known as the manufacturing base for most international footwear brands, there is also a large industry supplying the country’s own population. The leading supplier in this market is ANTA, a multi-million £ turnover company with over 5,000 retail outlets in China. With a business divided almost equally between sports footwear and clothing, ANTA is already one of the leading brands in the country. It has ambitions to become one of the top ten international sportswear brands in terms of global revenue.
These ambitions were firmly in place when ANTA established the first domestic "Sports Science Laboratory” in China in 2005. This included advanced testing equipment and evaluation systems to aid the design of distinctive products for both professional athletes and the general public. However, a critical limitation was the time taken to convert these new designs into finished products.
Most of the design work was created on 2D systems like Photoshop and CorelDraw at centres in Xiaman, Beijing and Guangzhou. The majority of the patterns and the grading of the different sizes were then undertaken using several local systems at the manufacturing centre in Fujian and at more than ten main sub-contractors in different areas of China. All costings were carried out manually at the different sites. It was clear that ANTA required a united and effective development platform to consolidate its resources nationwide, to replace the use of incompatible software programs, and to overcome the wide geographic spread of design and manufacturing. The replacement system would have to give better communication between the different departments, shorten the development cycle and speed the introduction of new styles to the market.
The first contact between ANTA and Delcam came in 2006, when the company needed a foot scanner to develop customised shoes for the players it sponsored in the China Basketball Association. During their discussions, ANTA realised the technical challenges it faced, especially the large gap at that time between Chinese manufacturing practice and international standards.
Although the design departments began experimenting with the Delcam software soon afterwards, negotiating an agreement for the whole company took much longer, as might be expected with such a large organisation. An important change during the process was the acquisition of Crispin by Delcam to form the world’s leading supplier of software to the footwear industry. As a major company itself, ANTA realised the benefits of dealing with the market leader in its industry. Furthermore, the combination of the two companies’ ranges of software meant that ANTA could cover all its requirements for 3D design, 2D engineering, grading, cost accounting, mouldmaking and cutting, from a single source. Clearly, this would help overcome the previous difficulties resulting from using a mixture of incompatible software from different suppliers.
Another important benefit was that Delcam China could provide local training and support at all of ANTA’s main sites from its strong technical team. Furthermore, Delcam China’s established relationships with many universities and colleges in China could guarantee the company a continuous supply of apprentices experienced in using the software.
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