A subsidiary of Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH) has joined with the world's largest branded sports shoe manufacturer to offer supply chain and data management solutions for the footwear and electronics industries. Logistics Information Network Enterprise (Line) this week formed SupplyLine with Taiwan's sports shoe maker Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings, which has a 15 per cent share of the global footwear market, producing Nike, Reebok and Timberland. Two of Taiwan's largest electronics manufacturers, Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS) and Global Brands Manufacture Group, have taken stakes in the joint venture. ECS, the exclusive producer of Apple's iBook, is among the world's largest manufacturers of printed circuit board assemblies, aiming this year to double its US$1 billion turnover. ECS general manager David Chang said: 'SupplyLine will help manage the flow of goods from raw material to the finished product. We will be able to work with partners who understand our industry and provide professionally designed software. 'SupplyLine will allow ECS to focus on product development and manufacturing . . . it will help us reduce costs and be more responsive to market demand.' Aaron Mak Shek-kwong, chief executive of Line, said an analysis the firm did with Reebok found by enhancing the supply chain process, it could reduce product order cycle time by 15 per cent by managing it online. Mr Mak said by streamlining and combining procurement of the companies' raw materials it would also be possible to cut 25 to 30 per cent of transport costs. 'The savings are certainly significant enough to make people pay attention. People tend to ignore process engineering when it comes to gaining a competitive advantage. They tend to try to compete on price. 'But process engineering, optimising your material procurement strategy, for example, improves your buying terms, which reflects on price,' Mr Mak said. In footwear manufacturing, Mr Mak estimated 40 per cent of raw materials were the same for all brands. 'This presents a tremendous opportunity for streamlining the movement of freight for the industry,' he said. SupplyLine will also focus on improving the quality of online data, production cycle and inventory management for its shareholders. Yue Yuen, whose turnover to September last year was almost US$1.8 billion, has more than 225 production lines which produced more than 113 million pairs of shoes last year. While the majority of its raw materials are procured in South Korea, sales in the United States were responsible for 55 per cent of turnover. Co-ordinating the global cradle-to-grave cycle is critical. The company will leverage HPH's global network of 30 international ports for shipment needs, but SupplyLine will be responsible for co-ordinating the supply-chain processes. 'Consumers demand flexibility, so a lot of shipments and logistics processes are organised on an ad-hoc basis. 'This often fragments the supply chain by, for example, using too many forwarders, which impacts on production cycles. 'All it takes is for one guy to ship the wrong thing and you've got a production problem - let alone losing out on economies of scale,' Mr Mak said. Line will be the majority shareholder in the new venture, but Mr Mak declined to detail individual stakes.