In this fast paced world, getting all the work done on time has become a nightmare. Everyday professionals have to deal with deadlines and time crunches. Thankfully, the textile, apparel and fashion industry has the PLM software to its rescue.

Product life cycle management (PLM) is a kind of computer software with varied processes and tools which help organizations to improve the way they manage their products. It has gained popularity among textile and apparel manufacturers because it helps organize data and respond to new fashion trends quickly. In this competitive market, the PLM software collaborates closely with customers and suppliers.

With the help of this software, it can be ensured that everyone is using the same data and working on the same platform, improving the internal and external communications. It also helps to organize the flow of data and adding or dropping a garment from the supply chain, if required. It minimizes errors so there aren't as many merchandise returns.

If the system is implemented with care and properly planned and designed, its results are clear and measurable. Along with this, PLM system has other benefits as well. Improved cost structure, improved quality and lesser time for the finished garment to reach the market are a few other functions that can be benefited from this system. Gini & Jony, a reputed clothing brand for children and young adults, observed that with the help of this software application, their production time was cut in half leaving more time to focus on the creative aspects of garment production.

PLM allows all the involved parties to interact on a real time basis. It is a web-based software solution with a user friendly interface which helps in improving the design and development until the production of a garment is finished by communicating on the same platform.

The way this software works is simple. A product's DNA is collected in a file which is also called "spec". This file can be accessed by everyone involved in the production of a garment, from the designer to the manufacturer. The secret to this software's success is that it helps everyone work on the same page at a particular time saving money, time, and energy and leaving more room for other activities like creativity. This software has also eliminated the use of heavy paperwork which takes more time to execute.

Through this software everyone is involved in all the process of manufacturing a garment. Everyone is up-to-date and can see the progress of a product. All the modifications at every level are recorded. Even if the garment is dropped from the line at the last minute, everyone can keep themselves updated. This avoids manufacturing errors, saves time and fastens production and improves product quality. By using this real-time software, one person can work on the details of the garment while others can work out the manufacturing process, the kind of fabrics to be used and various other things can be done at the same time in different departments. The software binds all the departments together.

Until a couple of years back, companies used to do all this work manually. After the designing of a garment, its spec were stored in a number of excel sheets and word documents. After getting a cost estimate and finalizing a sample fabric provided by the manufacturer, all these details were sent to the factory for the production to begin. All this added up to crazy working hours and long gaps for communicating with another department. The PLM software has reduced all manual activity, cutting the total time consumed into half on an average. This has also helped in streamlining sourcing. Now a manufacturer can quickly flip through an array of samples in no time.

There was a time when only the textile and apparel giants used this software. But with the changing time and requirements, small scale industries have started using this technology as well. Its uses and benefits have been welcomed by small as well as large scale textile industries. The rising demand for cheaper and more fashionable garments have pushed firms to adopt this technology, and for good.

But where there are pros, there is bound to be some cons. PLM software can take up to nine months to work properly in a firm depending on its size, departments and complexities involved in their production. It can also cost a company millions of dollars to implement this technology again depending on the firm's size. Another problem that is more commonly faced by organizations using this technology is to train its staff for efficient use of the software. It is an emerging technology and like any other emerging technology it faces the struggle for survival, since similar software solutions are trying to make a mark in the industry as well.

The PLM market which at present is valued at US$50 million is expected to grow almost 40% by the year 2014. According to latest surveys, 65% of the companies after using this technology for more than a year have recorded higher sales and profits. This technology is a make or break investment. It shortens product lifecycle time by at least half alongside making the supply chain more efficient.





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