Technology to Suit

Bill Hewett was the Information Systems Manager at Fletcher Jones from 1976-1991. He shared this video with the FJ Stories Project. It was produced in-house by the Fletcher Jones business in 1982.  Bill narrates the video, which takes us through the FJ company's early adoption and use of computer assisted technologies and automation to gain greater efficiencies in manufacturing processes.     The video was produced for the company's submission to the Federal Government when consideration was being given to reducing protective tariffs.  A great historical record of FJs as pioneers in their field.  

"David Jones sent an Executive Search Team to look for somebody to assist when the FJ Board made the decision to begin the journey in Computer aided Design and Manufacturing. In 1976, I joined the FJ Executive team as the Information Systems Manager.  

I was heavily involved in the installation and commissioning of the Computer aided Pattern Design and Gerber Cutting operation for bulk stock cutting.  Then we commissioned an extension of this system to enable the automation of made-to-measure (individually cut) garments, and this resulted in the installation of Laser Cutting equipment that could cut a suit in less than three minutes! 

In 1981, FJs introduced early Point of Sale equipment throughout their retail chain to gather sales information.  Using the very early telephone based communications equipment installed to retrieve sales data, we also introduced one of the earliest email systems in Australia.  

This was followed by a system to manage customer orders for made-to-measure garments. We could track the orders from the shop through to the automated pattern adapting and laser cutting operation, then through the machining operations - until finally managing the garment back to the originating shop for customer collection on the promised date! 

There were also several other manufacturing support systems implemented, as well as extensive stock keeping systems, including one of the earliest use of bar codes in Australia and portable bar code reading equipment to assist in the management of stock records. We even sourced and modified a garment dispatch system used in the USA to support the selection and despatch of garments to our shops from the Warrnambool warehouse."  Bill Hewett, Information Systems Manager, Fletcher Jones



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