While intelligence, creativity and talent are answer to most of the problems that the business faces on daily basis, there are issues that need more than these qualities to be resolved from the root. There are things that cannot be accurately done manually and these are the things that need intervention of technology. In the world of textile and apparel, there has been a constant introduction of technology to ensure that not only the basic process of manufacturing, but also the complex processes of studying the market trends and analysing the sales pattern are done accurately.
The fashion sector goes through major and minor transitions on a daily basis, thus application of product lifecycle management (PLM) has proven to be a useful approach for apparel manufacturers. The product lifestyle management ensures more efficient production bearing in mind the environment issues.
Today there are several seasons displaying the trends of a particular season, thus, the definition of 'what's in and what's out' changes frequently. The simple activity of manufacturing the designs in vogue can give way to grave errors. Earlier, this was considered a part of the cost of doing business, but retailers and manufacturing units have realised that these errors can be done away with the help of PLM and thus have started to embrace it. As per the vendors, PLM software can cut a product's lifecycle management to approximately 60 days from the average of 120 days.
Emerging markets have also started depending on the PLM systems, as the American and European markets mature. In markets like China where the fashion industry never relied too heavily on information technology, the financial crisis of recent years has changed this stance. Today, textile and apparel industry in China has realised the significance of technology in later stages of business as well.
The use of PLM has astonishingly optimised the overall production, thus reducing the cost. PLM is now more commonly used by the textile sector in Brazil as well. Other countries like India, Sri Lanka and some African nations consider PLM system as a necessity rather than a luxury. Nevertheless, even as the use of PLM is on rise in developing nations, this system is confined to large scale textile production houses.
As per a report presented by business advice agency the Brazilian Service of Support for Micro and Small Enterprises (SEBRAE) the use of PLM systems is still restricted because most of the textile industries concentrate on introducing and improving technology at the basic level of production. The post-production application of technology needs extra capital, which is difficult for these industries to arrange.
The expansion in retail sector in developing nations has forced some of the high-end brands to realise the efficiency that PLM systems bring into maximise accuracy, profit and innovation. The small retailing and production houses still employ line managers to gather important information, without realising that the PLM systems will do the same task more accurately without requiring monthly payment.
PLM is influenced chiefly by the fast fashion. The retailers must be equipped to adapt quickly to constant changes. The important trends that affect PLM include labour cost, fast fashion, energy costs and green momentum. Today the rising cost of labour means that units depend more on technology rather than workforce. The chances of error are reduced with technology and also the companies save good amount on labour. PLM also assists in product development, wherein, the manufacturers can enjoy the ease of taking the decisions close to in-store delivery.
PLM has made it easier to evaluate what's selling and what's not, thus avoiding excessive inventory of an outdated product. PLM also assists in evaluating the end-retail stores that are nearer to the manufacturing units, thus saving the energy costs on fuel and transportation. Also, today, for eco-friendly retailers and brands green priorities are intensifying the scrutiny of the sourcing process. PLM is a strong tool to handle the product development process and the sourcing process simultaneously.
There have been improvements in the PLM, but almost all the developing nations have to import PLM systems from countries like United States, Germany, France, etc., as most of the developing nations are not yet self-sufficient, as far as technology goes. There are companies that create PLM specifically for fashion sector, following specific requirements concerning the apparel and fashion industry, which cannot be fulfilled by PLM designed for other sectors like traditional automotive and aerospace industries.
It is the level of speed that fashion industry needs is a lot more than the conventional PLM, as the fashion industry needs to create designs for Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. The major research and development with regard to PLM is carried out in developed nations. Therefore, the PLM systems that the developing nations import are often not the updated versions in most of the cases.
PLM is required to ensure that the companies work as per the global need of production and to shorten the time required for the post production processes like taking stock of inventory. This enables overall growth, increased profits and gives the companies spare time for creative ideas. These factors often decide the fate of organisations and open up the chances to locate, manage and document work related to environmental and social responsibility.
The benefits of PLM definitely outrank the initial investment that the companies require, as it gets a good riddance from the losses by reducing the errors. The PLM's future in fashion industry is fairly robust with around 63 percent of apparel companies saying they plan to further invest in PLM technology in coming years.