The project MODA-ML was funded by the European Commission (IST Take-Up Action Line IV.2.5 "Computing, communications and networks take-up measures") of the V Framework Programm (belongs to the cluster of projects Eutist-AMI).
The project began in July 2001 and ended in March 2003; now its activities run with the support of the partners as Moda-ML initiative.
The project aimed to facilitate the flow of technical and management information between the firms of the T/C (Textile/Clothing) supply chain thanks to the exchange of XML documents via Internet.
The concrete objective of the project was the definition of a common data format, suitable for the exchanges of information via Internet along the supply chain: a format with features that enable an easy and cheap embedding in the legacy information systems as far as in the new solution provided by the technology suppliers.
The quality of the documents was thought to be high enough to propose their formalisation as a part of an international standard for the T/C sector.
The strategic choice: a common language for the flow of data along the supply chain
The information exchange, for example related to the flow of orders, technical data, order status and sell out, enables considerable savings and a more efficacy of the whole supply chain.
The data flow between the actors of the supply chain finds an obstacle passing through the information management systems of different firms, because they are structurally dissimilar and not interoperable.
To enable the companies' information systems to directly exchange data in complete independence, that is without being constrained to adopt a specific application, a single interface was easily obtained from the adoption of an approach based on the exchange of common documents written with XML (language that has been proposed by the World Wide Web consortium -W3C- in order to represent and exchange data on the Internet).
The Textile Clothing companies have the benefit to be able to exchange data directly with all their partners thank to the creation (and maintenance) of only one interface in their systems.
On the other side, the technology and services suppliers win the solution of a problem that they are not able to face by themselves (only with a multiplicity of bilateral agreements) and the higher acceptation of the companies that easily can be linked with ERPs or services such as marketplaces or stock services.
Furthermore, thank to XML, the exchanged documents are human readable and can be handled with software tools that are available even on personal computer.
The MODA-ML project
The project MODA-ML has been an important step to build this common language that puts in effects two concrete results.
1 - Definition of a set of type of XML documents and related dictionary of terms
The know-how of the technological partners, based on experiences realised with EDIFACT, EDITEX and other projects (like TA2000), allowed the creation of well accepted XML documents that can be easily extended to obtain other type of documents devoted to aspects of the T/C supply chain that are not faced by the initial project.
2 - Creation of some simple software modules, of public domain, to manage the documents.
After the development, they are tested in real transactions of the industrial partner of the project; they aim is to facilitate the integration with the internal company information systems and to face the issues of transport, security and confidentiality of the data flow.
Thank to these tools, the small and medium enterprises are enabled to receive, send and browse XML documents, simply approaching a data base installed even on a Personal Computer (ODBC data bases, like MS-Access) and connected to the e-mail of Internet.
The larger and more skilled companies are able to manage directly the documents with their own tools (or through a part of the MODA-ML software that is free and 'open source') because the format is public and easily readable.
The documentation of the results is available to everyone, also for the implementation in others supply chains.
The free use of the results of the project (software and XML documents): the project offers to the T/C firms and to the technology suppliers a proposal of a neutral format for the data to be exchanged with the aim to avoid the growth of a sort of ‘Babel Tower' of proprietary and not interoperable formats and languages; the advantages of this proposal are clearly interesting for both the categories. There are no costs to adopt these results.
The gain for the partner promoting the project is, in fact, the availability of a common interchange format based on the most recent technology and not the release of a new software on the market.
International initiatives to create data interchange protocols have been activated world wide (ebXML, for example), still they do not face the vertical issues of the T/C sector; these initiatives are the reference framework for MODA-ML that want to be a complementary contribute dealing with the sector specific issues for the T/C supply chain.
The project was a concrete contribute to the creation of an European standard for the T/C sector; for this reason the project had strict relationships with initiatives based in other European countries that brought the results of MODA-ML in the CEN/ISSS Workshop TexSpin (CEN: European Committee for Standardisation) to build an European eBusiness pre-normative platform for the T/C sector that ended in July 2003.
The actors of the project
The industrial partners of the project were Fratelli Corneliani SpA (garment producer), Fratelli Piacenza, Vitale Barberis Canonico, Ing. Loro Piana e Reda (Weavers); these firms were active actors in the project and involved, since the beginning, in the requirement analysis and in the validation of the results.
The technological partners were research institutes, as ENEA (coordinator), Politecnico di Milano and the French institute IFTH (Institut Francais Textile Habillement), consultants and ICT firms as Gruppo SOI and Domina of Biella.
The focus groups and the newsletter of the project have been addressed to the T/C firms and to the technology and solution providers, with the aim to inform and collect feedback and comments to improve the generalizability of the project results (you can still subscribe in www.moda-ml.org).
The industry trading associations of the T/C sector have been an important interlocutor and a target for the results of the project.
Funding: the project was funded by the European commission as a Take-Up Action of the IST-2000 programm (Action Line IV.2.5 "Computing, communications and networks take-up measures") in the 5th Program Framework.
After the conclusion of the EU contract, Moda-ML continues though the participation of the technical group and of the pilot companies to other projects with regional, national, european funding. The Moda-ML iniziative continues, in a new framework and has the Web site as a reference for the people that is interestyed in the interoperability issues in the Textile Clothing sector.
Links & downloads
More info about Moda-ML