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PLM’s Real-Time Benefits for Supply Chain Visibility

Fostering communication, transparency and accountability in an often long and complicated supply chain is challenging. Today’s apparel companies have begun to integrate applications, including Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), to fortify these attributes in their supply chains.

At a Gerber Technology Roadshow panel in New York on Wednesday, industry members came together to discuss how PLM benefits the apparel production process from fibers to finished products.

“We’ve moved now into a world that is true to life,” WhichPLM CEO and panelist Mark Harrop said. “What we are seeing now is a real-time trend.”

WhichPLM provides popular retailers, including Columbia and Mango, with PLM advisory services, including up-to-date audits for their supply chains. The company also conducts evaluations of PLM vendors, so apparel brands can have access to reliable sources for their logistics needs.

Before technology advancements, including PLM, stepped into the picture, retailers couldn’t monitor their supply chains on a regular basis, which contributed to transparency issues. With companies, including WhichPLM, apparel brands can manage their supply chains in the present, without compromising visibility from sourcing to store shelves.

PLM has dynamically altered the way clothing companies work today compared to previous years. Jeff Rosenstock, VP of General Sportswear Co. Inc. and panelist, discussed how Gerber Technology’s YuniquePLM streamlined the company’s email thread.

“It was tough to find information and it was cumbersome,” Rosenstock said. “After we implemented the YuniquePLM, it was a game-changer for us.”

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With most of its production facilities in Central America, General Sportswear needed a better solution to organize its supply chain. YuniquePLM enabled the company to streamline line plan details, garment samples and supplier conversations.

PLM and other applications could also foster supply chain communication. From supplier to retailer, PLM strengthens accountability for each step of the apparel production process. With the ability to digitally organize online chats, supply chain workers can efficiently plan and execute strategy from different locations.

“When you look at the key attributes of successfully implementing a new technology, it all gets down to clear and concise communication within your supply chain,” Texbase CEO Joe Walkuski said. “As the industry has evolved over the last decade, we have been tasked with functions that create their own little silos outside of their existing systems.”

With the ability to efficiently monitor all steps of the supply chain and foster communication with suppliers, retailers are able to not only create efficient apparel items, but ensure consumers that they are facilitating a more sustainable and ethical clothing production process.

“There is no quick fix,” Harrop said. “PLM is a big journey, but a worthwhile one.”