At a Glance:
Designing a new product from scratch isn’t a walk in the park (just ask any fashion or apparel industry professional.) It can be an arduous process that requires an organized list of fabric types, colors, image templates, component renderings, and other assets needed to create product specifications. While it isn’t always as easy as 1-2-3, sending a tech pack to your manufacturer is a simple and efficient way to consolidate all of your design information throughout the development lifecycle.
Before we get too far along, let’s take a step back and revisit what a tech pack is, how it works, and how it can help your brand improve developmental processes.
What is a Tech Pack?
A tech pack features an assortment of product information, including images, files, and layouts that explain your product design to suppliers. Using a tech pack is a simplified method describing how to create product samples and showcasing how you want your products to look. The main goal of a tech pack is to act as the reference point for your design teams and your factory to properly align on all required product specifications.
Tech packs have become an essential aspect of the consumer industry’s development plans because they allow for all necessary sketches, numbers, and materials to be housed in one place. Tech packs serve as the blueprint for supplier information and contain the data needed to create a new style or product. A tech pack also sends easy-to-read instructions to factories containing when and how a product should be created, along with all necessary materials. This organized list helps reduce user error and prevent costly mistakes that lead to shipping delays and lost revenue.
How Do Tech Packs Impact My Business?
As we alluded to above, tech packs help prevent inaccuracies or missing information. Organizations that might not use a product lifecycle management (PLM) solution, such as Backbone PLM, often resort to numerous email exchanges with their vendors to confirm instructions. Developers may send samples back and forth to manufacturers until the product is finalized, which ultimately leads to increased material costs and slows the entire development process.
However, if your brand uses a PLM to create organized tech packs, sample templates can be reused for numerous products in your catalog. Companies have reported that using manual spreadsheets to create tech packs can take days and sometimes weeks. A PLM system utilizes both product and component data to create tech packs in a flash, saving your design and development teams hours of work and limiting the potential for costly miscalculations. For example, Backbone PLM allows teams to send tech packs directly from the platform to factories, internal teams, or anyone else in minutes, without the laborious process of scouring through emails or manual reports.
Additionally, as part of your tech pack is the Bill of Materials (BOM). Your BOM templates provide a starting point for new products to be adjusted for individual components with ease. Creating a manual list of the raw materials and components required to manufacture specific products can occupy hours of valuable time. A PLM tool like Backbone leverages each product library, so changes are reflected automatically, and BOMs can be dynamically populated and exported in no time.
Related Article: Backbone PLM Leads in High Adoption Rates
What Are the Benefits of Tech Packs?
As discussed above, tech packs provide a consistent solution for design and development needs. If navigating a PLM is new to your brand or you’re just now beginning to use your first PLM system, follow this simplified list of tech pack benefits.
1. Accurate Pricing From Suppliers: When your manufacturers can see what exactly is included in your product, they can provide a more accurate quote. If they are left to guess about product details, it can halt the development process and lead to pricing discrepancies.
2. Faster Time to Market: With a PLM system that generates your tech packs, designers don’t have to spend months developing new styles with multiple sampling rounds. Instead, samples and revisions can be updated or approved in real time without as much tedious email communication. If your product hits the market quickly, your brand will see a profit sooner than later.
3. Quality Control: A tech pack is a tool used to keep your internal teams and your factory on the same page. Updates can be made instantly and shared with any team members throughout the development lifecycle. Well-done tech packs are easy to use and allow for clear communication and an efficient pre-production process. Keeping product specifications up to a high standard will ultimately improve brand loyalty and customer satisfaction over time.
Getting Started with a Tech Pack
As you begin to create your tech pack, focus on these three areas to get started: product sketches, construction details, and revisions.
1. Product Sketches: Consider what your product or garment should look like and what purpose it serves. Your technical designer will create a sketch that shows what needs to be featured in the design. You can leave out color, shading, and styling until you transfer your outline to Adobe Illustrator, but the sketch should still represent exactly what the style will look like after production.
Design sketches are a necessary aspect of any tech pack, and in Backbone, designers can create back, side, and front views of the product they are sketching, while maintaining a proportionally accurate diagram of the product.
2. Construction Details: When developing a new product, what materials or construction details will you need to highlight? For example, the type of fabric you choose will determine how your product looks and feels. Choose a fabric type, weight, and thickness that will be suitable for your finished product design.
Start thinking about other accompanying materials such as buttons, stitching, seams, finishing, elasticities, reinforcements, zippers, and so on. If color is your concern, Backbone includes custom palettes and built-in access to all Pantone libraries for no additional cost.
3. Callouts and Revisions: It seems simple enough, but your tech pack should include some type of visual representation of your product that internal teams can reference to make changes. For example, Backbone’s Image Annotator drives engagement across teams by enabling call-outs on images that dynamically populate your BOM and collect feedback and revisions all in one place. When designers have ways to work in one system together, teams enter the sample stage much faster, as they can visualize changes to dimensions, sizes, and features. Beyond that, built-in reports based on feedback allow teams to summarize and review products by season, collection, type, and more.
Related Article: How to Choose Your First PLM System
What Else is Included in a Tech Pack?
At this point, you’re aware of the data-driven blueprint that is a tech pack, but what else can you include in a tech pack? We’ll break it down for you.
Colorways and Artwork
All colorway variations and related components are included in your tech pack when using a system like Backbone’s, along with labels, trim pieces, and embellishments. Designers can easily manage and access product and component colorways, including custom palettes and all Pantone libraries, which are pre-populated in the system.
Thanks to the Point of Measure library (POM), technical designers benefit from a centralized location to store common POMs in one convenient place to use across assortments while building Block Templates.
The Block Template is used to standardize size specifications and fit across core and carryover styles while eliminating duplicative work with reusable, dynamically graded rules and measurements. Product measurements and size specs are often the bulk of a tech pack and the core of any functional PLM, as each design size requires its own unique set of measurements.
In Backbone, we offer a convenient toggle that automatically converts your numbers between standard and metric measurements, and even offers the choice of fractional or decimal sizes, too.
Bill of Materials
With our system, every change made to a product is automatically reflected in this all-encompassing list of materials. In Backbone, your BOM templates provide a starting point for new products that can be adjusted for individual components, in addition to leveraging dynamic libraries and organizing the manual list of the raw materials required to manufacture specific products.
This list of materials includes everything: style name, size, composition, color, and quantity, as well as photos and sketches that show what the products will look like. Additionally, sample measurements, fit revisions, and construction detail can be made available.
If applicable, you may choose to include additional design materials such as print images, vector files, and computer-aided design (CAD) files. Backbone’s flexible user interface can process most file types, so designers have the autonomy to choose the format they are most comfortable working with.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How Do I Use My Tech Pack?
Once you have a completed tech pack, use it to contact new or existing suppliers. An organized list of all product materials and quantities broken down by size, style, and color will allow your factories to provide an accurate quote.
What’s more, designers and product developers can use their tech pack to make sample revisions or update product records as needed. Tech packs provide quality control during the production stage to prevent any mismatched samples or supplier errors from slipping through the cracks.
2. How Do You Share Multiple Tech Packs?
A tech pack must be generated for each product you wish to share, and Backbone customers can generate links to share their tech packs with team members and suppliers. Anyone who has a tech pack link can view the associated files. Links do not expire, so factories can access them whenever they need without having to search for files.
3. Can You Share More Than One Tech Pack at a Time?
Yes, in Backbone you can share multiple tech packs at once by sharing a link of multiple tech packs and any associated files from the Product Library or Item Master View.
4. What is the Difference Between the Condensed and Expanded Tech Pack Views?
The condensed layout generally requires fewer pages with component details listed first, then product colorways, and associated component colorways displayed in nested rows. Use this version of a tech pack to share summary or general overview information about your products.
The expanded layout generally requires more pages, and the product colorways are managed in unique columns rather than nested rows. This view is customizable with two extra pages in the Backbone creation process. On the fourth page, you can choose to exclude or include specific colorways, images, quantity, and price information, and on the fifth page, you can choose how to display your custom component and BOM fields in the columns and cells. Use this layout to provide additional detail when desired.
Related Article: PLM vs ERP: Know the Difference
Let’s Recap: Backbone Improves Tech Packs
As a reminder, your brand’s tech packs must provide the appropriate level of detail and clarity so factories can create new products correctly. Limiting sampling is a cost-effective solution to any development process, so be sure the tech packs that inform those samples are current and easily understood.
Beyond that, Backbone is improving tech packs and business development in the following ways:
- No File Transfer Services: Tech packs and attached files can be downloaded directly from the system, with a simple downloadable PDF link attached to the tech pack.
- Up to Date Versions: Backbone’s dynamic data libraries ensure tech packs are populated with only the most current information, while archiving previous tech pack versions with a date and time stamp.
- Limitless Creation: Create as many tech packs as you need. Backbone has no barriers to how many products you can create.
- Streamlined Operations: Backbone’s tech pack module allows factories to receive the same standard tech pack template each time you create a new SKU.
- Cloud-Based Platform: As companies operate remote teams, tech packs need to be shared, accessed, and updated from anywhere.
- Smarter, Faster, at Scale: When factories recognize your tech pack, they can create your products with more speed and efficiency each time, allowing you to get to market faster.
As your brand learns more about tech packs and Backbone’s functionality, be on the lookout for case studies, blogs, and customer reviews to make confident and informed decisions during your design and development process. Remember, a thorough and well-organized tech pack is key to a successful product launch and development cycle.
Ready to see how else Backbone can help your brand flourish? Download our tech pack webinar below to learn more about the foundational components of a tech pack, as well as helpful tips and tricks on the Backbone platform.