A KNOWLEDGE-BASED FRAMEWORK FOR APPAREL ENTERPRISE EVALUATION
The practice of subcontracting some or all the operations involved in manufacturing products is prevalent in many industries. The buying organization typically receives bids from several companies offering to carry out these operations. The process of determining whether a manufacturing facility is capable of producing the required quantity of the commodity at the right time and of the specified quality is fairly complex and involved. In this research, a knowledge-based approach has been adopted to identify the major factors that affect the capability of an apparel manufacturing enterprise and to determine the effect of these factors on the overall possibility of obtaining a quality product at the right time. This knowledge-based framework, known as Apparel Enterprise Evaluation Framework (AEEF), serves as a component of the Manufacturing Enterprise Architecture (MEA), which is a prerequisite for implementing Computer-Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) systems in an apparel enterprise.
Utility trouser manufacturing has been chosen as the domain for the development of the framework. The knowledge is represented in an object-oriented framework. The factors have been classified using a hierarchical decomposition process. The framework utilizes observable data from the enterprises manufacturing facility and transforms the data into quantified production, quality and financial capability indices. A weighted score method has been adopted to compute the score of a factor from the scores of its sub-factors. The evaluation framework is implemented in a decision support system, know as Bid Evaluation Software Tool (BEST). BEST can be used by companies procuring utility trousers to evaluate the manufacturing facilities of their contractors. A form-based front-end user interface, know as BESTFORMS, has also been built to obtain the data from the apparel enterprise.