PLM is a strategic business initiative, which includes a number of high-return process improvements. These PLM initiatives can be considered sub-projects under an overall PLM project. The following business practice examples are taken from prior client case studies and provide excellent candidate projects for your organization’s PLM Roadmap.

1.              New Product Innovation

PLM Initiatives for retail and consumer product companiesMany consumer goods manufacturers need to develop more product styles than their merchandise calendar requires. This may be the case at your organization.   One approach to solving this problem is to improve the efficiency of the innovation processes to allow more design projects to run concurrently. Another approach is to reduce the number of new styles moving from merchandising to technical design.  PLM offers Merchandising and product planning with the early cost and sourcing information they need to focus development on the products that will provide the best value to the business.

2.              Product Line Planning

Line Planning tools and techniques allow your organization to select the right products to pursue while reducing resource competition from less strategic products. This portfolio approach allows your organization to complete more products efficiently with the same capacity, simply by reducing the clutter from lower value products. At the same time, the products completed will be of higher strategic value to the business. One advantage of the Line Planning approach offered by many PLM solutions is that it can be implemented without significant disruption to current processes and systems.  The Line Planning capabilities available from a PLM solution will primarily support Sales and Merchandising.  However, the improved product portfolio visibility will bring meaningful benefits to the Styling and Design departments.

3.              Process Management

Another way to overcome a capacity constraint is to improve the throughput of the product innovation process itself. PLM solutions include project management tools and best business practices, which involve review and approval gates. These solutions provide companies with the ability to better manage their innovation projects, so they run more efficiently and have significant reductions in rework. Significant gains have been achieved by enabling world-class process management the innovation and approval processes.

4.              Design Rationalization

Design Rationalization is a business practice that can benefit to a company implementing a PLM project. PLM helps Designers take advantage of standard material definitions and supports a systematic review of existing designs to analyze whether duplicate designs can be rationalized.  It also helps Design find opportunities to replace materials with less expensive alternatives. In addition, standardization of designs enables more rapid development of similar designs when designing new products.

5.              Design Collaboration

Design Collaboration is a PLM initiative focused on reducing time to market by improving the effectiveness of the design process. This initiative aims to reduce new product introduction lead-times because products can be completed more quickly when they are run efficiently and when they are not competing with too many other products.

6.              Strategic Sourcing

A common problem that many companies have is the inability to find material definitions quickly. Many companies have significant redundancies in the raw materials, trims and accessories. This lack of control results in redundant inventory, and reduces the ability to take advantage of bulk discounts in purchasing.  PLM based materials management can help avoid stock out situations by helping to identify a perfectly acceptable material is sitting in inventory or is available from another supplier. Specification management and product data management tools with parametric search capabilities can be implemented in order to allow designers to search existing items before creating new ones. Strategic sourcing initiatives can leverage these common material definitions to take advantage of larger volume purchases for a smaller number of items.

7.              Vendor Collaboration

Many companies have opportunities to shorten the time it takes to bring a product to market by involving their suppliers in the design process by sharing product information with them. Many design processes are inefficient and require multiple iterations between internal departments, suppliers and vendors. By implementing collaborative processes and tools, companies can share product information with “downstream” parties to ensure that the product can be produced efficiently and at a competitive price.

8.              Integration with ERP solution

Benefits from an integrated PLM-ERP solution.  Benefits include centralized Materials Management, Vendor Management, Material Costs, BOM Interchange, Inventory visibility, Notifications for inventory changes, production delays, etc.

9.              2D/3D CAD Solutions

The 2D and 3D Pattern Development Tools are used in the development of patterns, grades, markers and 3D digital products.  3D virtual models are used to develop accurate, better-fitting designs. CAD tools can be used to model the behavior of cloth and drape it in a virtual environment over a virtual human body.  A PLM solution supports the use of patternmaking and Computer Aided design by managing the product related metadata and the output files from these design systems.   Significant time savings during design is possible from using PLM-based libraries for efficient reuse of product CAD files and 2D/3D patterns.  Currently, apparel specific CAD companies have been tackling the 3-D Virtual fit problem. The leading patternmaking software vendors have developed 3-D mannequins so a virtual garment can be draped on a precisely measured human model.

10.           Minimize Import Tariffs and Taxes

An import Tariff is a Duty or tax imposed on goods when transported across international borders. The Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) provides duty rates for virtually every existing item. CBP uses the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUS), which is a reference manual that provides the applicable tariff rates and statistical categories for all merchandise imported into the U.S.  Each article has a specific duty rate, which is determined by a number of factors, including where you acquired the article, where it was made, and what it is made of.

PLM can be used to manage the information needed to identify the applicable HTS code for a product while it still under development.  Early identification of HTS codes can influence subtle design choices, which can lead to significant savings.  PLM is also excellent at managing vendors and sources of supply.  PLM can be used to optimize supply choices based on duty rates imposed based on the country of origin.  Many North American retail and consumer goods companies pay annual tariffs in excess of $100,000 and many firms this is well beyond $1,000,000 each year.  Savings in this area can help justify the expense of implementing PLM.

Get more value out of your PLM system by implementing one or more of these PLM initiatives!

If you are planning to implement any of these 10 initiatives and are seeking expert advice, please feel free to reach out to Zweave directly and read the whitepaper that highlights the 15 reasons to choose Zweave for your next PLM implementation project.

15 reasons for choosing Zweave - PLM for Apparel Industry