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Gerber’s New Atria Cutter Offers Mass Production Benefits, On-Demand Potential

By Sourcing Journal

When Gerber Technology began developing its latest digital cutting solution, Lenny Marano, the company’s chief commercial officer, said the goal was to “change the paradigm of mass production.”

In a virtual press conference Wednesday—ahead of Gerber’s annual Ideation conference—the company unveiled the Gerber Atria Digital Cutter, its end-to-end solution for mass garment production, offering an in-depth look at the machine and its main value drivers.

Marano first stressed the machine’s potential for labor savings. Gerber’s customers, he said, are experiencing a 50 percent overall increase in throughput after implementing the Atria cutter.

“If you could produce 50 percent more, there’s a very realistic possibility that you’re eliminating shifts over the course of the week,” Murano said. “A lot of our customers are running 24/7 production. So, if you go from 24/7 to 24/5, which we have customers that have done, that is a very, very meaningful labor savings.”

Like many others within the fashion industry, Marano framed his company’s product in terms of sustainability. If a manufacturer eliminates shifts and reduces its operating hours, this alone will reduce its footprint, he said.

On top of that, he said the accuracy of the Atria machine allows manufacturers to nest products closer and cut with zero buffer, resulting in less material waste. According to Marano, Gerber has had customers who, when combining Atria with its AccuNest and AccuPlan production tools, increase their material savings by 1 percent to 5 percent.

Marano also claimed the Atria cutter’s consumables—its knives, stones and bristles, for example—last longer, saving on both the cost of the replacements and downtime. Using an IoT-based intelligent sharpening system, he said the cutter can reduce the cost of consumables by up to $2,000 per single shift. According to Marano, the Atria enhances the knife life three to four times and the stone life as much as three times.

The Gerber Connect IoT system, Marano added, monitors more than 160 data parameters, allowing Gerber to resolve nearly 85 percent of issues remotely, also saving on time.

Though presented as an end-to-end solution for mass production, Karsten Newbury, chief strategy and digital officer at Gerber, said the Atria cutter also can take a personalized e-commerce order and produce a finished product in less than an hour.

“That’s what’s really needed today to support these trends towards e-commerce and to really have that digital backbone, on the development and the production side, to be very nimble,” Newbury said. “Think of sample making, short runs, capsule collections—those are all things you can now make on-demand.”

“We don’t see high-volume production going away,” he clarified, pointing to segments, such as athleisure, that are booming right now. “They need high-volume production, so we don’t see high-volume production going away.”

“It’s more of now building the capability of having on-demand, and really not enough companies have on-demand today. And there are, it’s true, there are a lot of positive, economics. If you make a product on demand, you don’t have the inventory, you can hopefully avoid a lot of discounting, you avoid the waste. There is a real economic equation there.”

In addition to Gerber’s Atria cutter, this year has seen the company venture into PPE. After seeing the coronavirus pandemic spread in China, Italy and the U.S., Newbury said the company “very quickly formed a PPE task force.” Since March, he said Gerber has helped more than 1,700 companies retool their operations from regular production—whether furniture or apparel—to PPE production. According to Newbury, the company’s customers have made millions of medical gowns and tens to hundreds of millions of face covers and masks.

“This has been an important area to really help address the pandemic and also help our customers, really, as some of their business was pretty significantly impacted by the pandemic, to shift to other areas and keep their people employed,” Newbury said.

Though Gerber only entered into PPE because of the pandemic, Newbury sees a future in this segment. “This is going to continue to be a business and an activity for us in the coming years,” he added.

This article was originally published in Sourcing Journal November 10, 2020.

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