The fiber/textile industry is one of America''s largest manufacturing industries, and its success is critical to the economic well-being of the country. In terms of technology, the industry is very sophisticated, and in fact, each of its three sectors is the most productive in the world. However, the industry has been challenged by an onslaught of imported products. The most serious economic threat of foreign completion is to the apparel sector, which is the least capital intensive of the three industry sectors. While steps to address the challenges to the FTA industry include technological, sociological, and economic efforts, this paper focuses on efforts employing information technology.
The nation-wide capacity must be created that can enable and sustain the production of world class FTA products that are the information technologies that will enable the required system to be developed. In turn, these technologies will assist in the implementation of design- driven, multi-enterprise concurrent engineering, as well as demand-activated manufacturing.
The effort required to create the new vision for the FTA industry is huge and requires participation from all sectors of the industry, as well as government, academia, and professional societies.