Every entrepreneur, brand owner, and production manager must master PLM. It is not only about sustainability and supply chain strategies. Actually, it’s much more than that.
However, are you sure you’re completely familiar with the term? Do you know what’s PLM and why is it so important?
In this article, we’ll give you the essential knowledge of it. Keep reading!
The Definition of PLM
The PLM is the acronym for Product Lifecycle Management. It is related to the management of the entire lifecycle of a product.
In other words, PLM takes care of the products’ inception through engineering, design, and manufacture, as well as the service and disposal of them. That means the product’s conception, selection of the raw material, manufacture, shipping, and lifespan.
Summing it up, Production Lifecycle Management is about the whole process. From the organization and selection of raw material to the product’s durability after leaving the factories. It integrates people, data, processes, and business systems and provides a product information backbone for companies and their extended enterprises.
This business process started with American Motors Corporation (AMC). In 1985, the automaker was looking for a way to speed up its product development process to better face its larger competitors.
As their VP for Product Engineering and Development, François Castaing, says, they were lacking the “massive budgets of General Motors, Ford, and foreign competitors… AMC placed R&D emphasis on bolstering the product life cycle of its prime products (particularly Jeeps).”
After a few years, they worked on a new model, that later came out as Jeep Grand Cherokee. To pursue a faster production they did two important actions that changed everything. First, they worked on a computer-aided design software system that made engineers more productive.
Secondly, they developed a new communication system that gave a broader view of the production process. With that, they could have an overview of everything, solve conflicts faster, and, mostly, reduce costly engineering changes.
From that moment on, all drawings and documents were in a central database. The product data management proved to be really effective. Therefore, according to DesignNews, after Chrysler purchased AMC, the system was expanded throughout the enterprise connecting everyone involved in designing and building products.
Because Chrysler was an early adopter of the PLM technology, they were able to become the auto industry’s lowest-cost producer. Their development costs were half of the industry average by the mid-1990s.
But, how about the Fashion Industry?
According to research from McKinsey, shopping behavior is changing drastically all over the world. Instead of taking only price into account, customers are watching out for brands that they resonate with. In other words, that they share the same values.
Furthermore, they want transparency but also constant news and innovative products. It seems like an odd combination. However, the future is definitely the mix of sustainability and innovation both in one single product.
The use of PLM in fashion comes in a way that provides the industry the possibility of having better communication with the parties involved in the production process. Also, they centralize all data and organize important information in one single place.
This strategy helps to minimize errors and delays, shorten the product development timeline, as well as organizing the in-between processes.
Using It In Favor of Sustainability
A well-done Product Lifecycle Management contributes not only to decrease costs but, mostly, to give an overview of the production process. When organizing all data in one single software, the people involved have a better understanding of the whole process. In other words, they can optimize the management and act quickly to solve any eventual problem.
Furthermore, the process of data organization and the practice of having an overview of everything, lead brands to another important aspect: transparency! If you can track down and follow everything related to the production process, you can make sure if all the involved ones are in good working conditions, if the raw material comes from trustful places and etc. PLM can track the manufacturing process from start to finish to incorporate necessary carbon offsets or reduce waste.
With that type of internal control, fashion houses can truly embrace transparency and share with their community everything about their production process.
Brand transparency is one of the values that customers take more into account nowadays when making a purchase decision. They want to know everything about the product they are buying. And, that is only possible when PLM is used in a well-organized way.
Some businesses opt to use different tools to create their PLM. Yet, today, there are technologies out there that unify everything in one single software. A sound PLM software system is intuitive, configurable, easy to use, cloud-based and fast to deploy.
Benefits of a well-done Product Lifecycle Management
The hallmarks of using that kind of management strategy are huge. As we’ve mentioned, PLM has the goal to improve communication and organize the database, unifying everything in one single place.
If done in a proper way, it:
- Improves product quality and reliability
- Reduces prototyping costs
- Short the communications with suppliers, manufacturers, and stores
- Provides quick identification of sales opportunities and revenue contributions
- Gets the product out in the market faster
- A framework for product optimization
- Improves ability to manage seasonal fluctuation
- Improves forecasting to reduce material costs
- Maximizes supply chain collaboration
- Improves product safety
- Reduces errors and waste