3 Steps to Link Up Your Supply Chain



Product lifecycle management (PLM) isn’t just for design and product development these days, but it can be hard to overcome old assumptions about the purpose and place of PLM technology in fashion and consumer products retail.

Now is the perfect time to cast away outdated perceptions about PLM and take advantage of its much broader and deeper capabilities. Fashion and retail executives are eager to leverage PLM beyond core front-end processes, according to a bi-annual PLM survey conducted by Apparel Magazine and Gartner in 2016.

  • 30% = respondents planning to implement PLM to address materials sourcing/supplier collaboration
  • 40% = those planning to use PLM for sustainability, social or consumer safety compliance tracking

On many fronts, apparel and consumer products retailers and brand owners realize they have to do something different to cope with compressed product cycles and more fluid, season-less production calendars. A connected PLM strategy can help supply chains to perform with more agility.

What is connected PLM? In short, connected PLM is both a methodology and technology platform drawing from disparate systems and data sources to unlock valuable insights to keep companies on trend, on time and on budget. In our last blog post, we explored how connected PLM applies to the design-and-create phases of the product lifecycle. Now we present three progressive steps to benefit from connected PLM during the source-and-produce stages.

Step 1: Connect and share: First, the PLM platform should become the go-to source for all product data for internal departments and external trading partners so that everyone has a single version of the truth. This eliminates many emails and spreadsheets, both common sources of confusion and lost productivity. During this step, connected PLM also helps companies close the loop on quality issues. Specifications are clear and consistent, and any problems are well documented and flagged so that they do not get lost in the shuffle only to resurface in another season.

Step 2: Collaborate sooner: A connected PLM approach empowers teams and trading partners to collaborate much earlier in the product lifecycle. With Tier 1 suppliers, fashion and consumer products retailers and brands can create dynamic bills of material, which evolve on the fly as new concepts and product specifications are proposed. This collaboration can serve as a preliminary check on costs and capacity constraints and help companies avoid the need to go back to the drawing board.

Step 3: Get “smart” with IoT: The Internet of Things (IoT) plays an important role in connected PLM. Smart sensors on products, within factories and at stops all along the supply chain feed a steady stream of information to different systems, which ultimately connect to the PLM platform. As a result, decision makers gain real-time visibility into work-in-process (how many garments have been sewn?), fabric availability (when did the rolls leave the mill?) and many other variables. Firms on the leading edge of this technology even use IoT algorithms to parse through data about the weather, fashion trends and their supply chains to help them decide what to make and where and when to make it.

Read Part 2 of the Connected PLM Series HERE and learn how you can leverage connected PLM to develop truly trend-driven fashion.

Is it time to see how PLM can connect your retail supply chain? Contact PTC today to take the first step on the transformational connected PLM journey.