The Workshop "Textile Supply Chain Integrated Network (Tex-Spin)" aims to provide the Textile/Clothing sector with an open pre-normative platform for electronic data interchange based on XML documents.
TexSpin is an initiative promoted at a european level by CEN/ISSS (a branch of the European Committee for Standardization concerned with initiatives for the "Information Society"), co-ordinated by Euratex (european association of the industrial associations of the sector) and comprehending the contribution of MODA-ML and eTeXML experiences. The workshop started in July 2002 and ended in July 2003.
The goal of TEXSPIN Workshop was to supply a pre-normative platform of data exchange models, XML messages and dictionaries of terms that cover different aspects of the supply chain, from sales organization to production in its different aspects.
This means that TEXSPIN supplies some suggested models and an exchange language that technological solutions providers and enterprises will be able to conveniently use for implementing their own solutions.
- the WS/Texspin started with a plenary session on July 1, 2002
- on April 11th 2003 in Milano had been held the second plenary session of the workshop (jointly with the final event of Moda-ML)
- the third and final plenary session was in Paris, on June 25th 2003 and was concluded with the submission of the final CWA for comments (it collects all the results and the guidelines for the XML based exchanges)
- all the comments on the CWA were collected between June and the end of July 2003
- at the end of September 2003 the final CWA has been approved (and sent to national standardisation bodies for further comments) and the workshop is concluded. Finally the CWA has been published by CEN/ISSS as CWA 14948.
Among the activities of the TEXSPIN project, different ways and scenarios of inter-enterprise collaboration were recognized and tried out, all supported by the same set of XML document.
In fact it's possible to think to ASP services offered by Web sites (it should be better to call them 'Web applications') as management services of some parts of the enterprise activities or as services for finding partners (market-place, e-procurement, etc.) or managing and integrating processes among companies.
In this case, the availability of a 'standard' interface permits enterprises to not bind themselves to the supplier of those services, who, in turn, offers them to all those companies around the world that presently aren't part of his community of users yet (besides making easier, for both, the effort needed to become a member of the community).
This kind of services, oriented to the branch of the supply chain delimited by manufacturers and distributors, is integrated by the eTeXML project with some instruments that help the conversion towards 'old' EDI formats, that can be preserved and exploited.
However, the great benefit of the adoption of a common standard is that every single enterprise can easily implement its interface to talk directly to its partner, without any intermediary (to make its experimentation easier, there's a free communication software, called MSH and developed by the Moda-ML team, that can be expanded with front-end modules to enterprise information systems for exporting internal data to XML messages).
The architecture developed and tested by the Moda-ML project provides for a direct exchange of information among fabric suppliers, their third parties and manufacturers.
The competitive advantage deriving from innovation, creativeness, quality and know-how gives the european industry of the T/C sector the strength to be the leader in international market, provided that its actors would be able to work together more closely and effectively than they actually do.
Contrary to other industries where integration is more and more pursued, the T/C sector has always been fragmented. Furthermore, because of its polimorphical structure, this sector has seen the birth of many small and medium enterprises able to play significant roles.
Nevertheless, a lot of these small and medium enterprises can't afford to make many investments because of their size, while EDIFACT-based standards for exchanging data require investments on technologies that are real barriers for them.
Another obstacle is that the sector, during last years, has developed a set of messages (EDITEX) that is partially different from the EANCOM set, which, instead, is extremely diffused towards the points of sale of the big distribution.
Meanwhile XML technologies and the Web itself are knowing a strong growth as a cheap and widespread tool for collaboration, so they can break down the barrier that leaves small and medium enterprises out of the so-called electronic Business to Business.
Goal and results
TEXSPIN Workshop was based on the contribution, in terms of technology, experience and know-how of the parallel TEXSPIN project (developing of EDITEX messages compliant with EANCOM and XML/EDI pilot experiences based on new XML messages) and of two projects realized in Italy (MODA-ML, upstream part of the supply chain, from raw materials to clothing manufacture, IST european financing) and in France (eTeXML, downstream part of the supply chain, from clothing manufacture to distribution, french national financing).
Its aim was to define a common framework for data interchange of the T/C sector at a european level.
The results of the TEXSPIN project were validated by the workshop and produced a CEN Workshop Agreement (CWA), in the form of a "Best Practice" regarding:
- validation of the new framework of XML documents derived from EDITEX (XML/EDITEX)
- requirements and architecture of a collaborative framework based on XML messages
- guidelines for framework implementation
More in details, the CWA defines two sets of XML documents for the B2B information exchange:
- a set of XML documents for the side of the supply chain dealing with production, from Moda-ML:
- a set of XML documents for the final part of the supply chain, dealing with retail, derived from the ETEXML experience
TEXSPIN Workshop, according to the rules defined for evey CEN Workshop, promoted participation, comments and contribution from industries and associations of the sector, from technology providers and from other standardizing initiatives.
Were established connections with other horizontal CEN Workshops (WS/Electronic Commerce, WS/Ebes) or sectorial (WS/FINEC, footwear), IST projects (e-T Cluster, Tex-Map) and international organizations (OASIS, EAN International). Participants were able to exchange and receive information and working documents and, if they wished, to attend plenary meetings.
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CEN and CEN/ISSS
The CEN (www.cenorm.be) is the European Standardisation Committee, it is the European correspondant to the International ISO, its members are the European national standardisation bodies (UNI for Italy, AFNOR for France, etc etc);
ISSS (Information Society Standardisation system) is the fast system for the definition of voluntary standards in the field of the Information and Communication Technologies.
CEN proposes this simplified methodology to speed-up and lower the costs of the process of standard creation in the ICT sector, a sector where the obscolence of the technologies vanishes the traditional standardisationb processes that requires some years to be completed (in ISSS the elapsed time of the processes is measured with months).
In short a CEN/Workshop defines a process that, within one (or maximum two) year(s), allows to define and publish a proposal of 'de facto' standard with the certainty that all the interested European subjects will be able to know and view it, send comments and participate the activities (if interested).
In the business plan of the workshop the time scheduling and the objectives are defined; all the draft documents produced by the Workshop can be published on the Web site (that can be created and maintained by the standardisation body that acts as secretary) and are accessible to all the visitors or to the registered members (membership is open, in some cases a fee is requested); in the public meetings ('plenary sessions') the draft results are discussed and approved and lead to the approval of CWAs (Cen Workshop Agreements) that represent the final result.
The CWAs (CEN Workshop Agreement) are final results of the Workshop: they are documents containing the standardisation results of the workshop.
The workshop can decide to publish for 60 days on the Web the text of the final 'draft' of the CWA in order to solicitate and receive feedbacks and comments before its approval.
If the feedbacks (of the Workshop participants or of external participants) are relevant, it can be necessary to revise the text, then the CWA must be submitted for a new round of feedbacks to achieve a large consensus. It can be achieved either electronically (through e-mails) or in a new final plenary sesssion.
Usually not all the CWA are available via WEB, only that developed in the framework of the eEurope initiative.
After the approval of the final meeting the CWA (namely 'final candidate CWA') is sent to the national standardisation bodies associated to CEN, they publish them, mainly through their catalogues of publications.
At the end of this process the CWA might be left as is or, on initiative of the industry, it might begin the process of formalisation or new workshop could be proposed to evolve or adapt it to new needs. In any case, the follow up of the workshop will be consequence of the real interest demonstrated by the industrial operators about the results.