FlexPLM 9.0 aims to reduce the cycle time for
supply chains in the fashion industry.
Parametric Technology Corporation, which makes product lifecycle management
solutions, is rolling out its FlexPLM 9.0 application for the retail, footwear
and apparel industries.
Kathleen Mitford, vice president of vertical market strategy for PTC,
said the latest version of FlexPLM, announced April 7, offers enhanced
capabilities for planning, design and sourcing.
"In footwear and apparel, it's very important to be able to plan for
your line, sourcing and material commitment," Mitford said. "We took
it to the next level to cut costs and give the customers what they want, which
is increased adoption rates."
Mitford said FlexPLM makes it easier to plan for the upcoming season based
on the previous year's results, and then track the progress of line development.
She said the product's planning framework supports activities such as line
planning, design, material planning and sourcing planning.
In the area of design, Mitford said FlexPLM directly integrates with Adobe
Illustrator, allowing designers to create illustrations in Adobe that can be
saved to the FlexPLM product database.
"We want designers to be able to work totally within Illustrator and
create products within Illustrator," she said. "The product then goes
to the hierarchy in FlexPLM."
Mitford said designers can also pull design features such as colors,
materials, trims and logos from FlexPLM libraries and apply them to Adobe
Illustrator. "This helps reduce the cycle time of fast-moving fashion
trends," she said.
In response to an increasing number of retailers entering the private label
product space, Mitford said, PTC has
expanded FlexPLM's sourcing capabilities to make supply chain collaboration
easier and enhance performance of activities such as issuing RFQs (requests for
quote) and managing material samples.
"The typical fashion life cycle is 30 days to six weeks," Mitford
said. "We want to do anything we can do to help create products faster and
navigate the system faster."
To that end, Mitford said PTC focused on
adding ease-of-use features such as more graphical displays, user-driven images
and lists of information, and pop-up images. A tool called Quick Spec allows
users to pull together information such as measurements, materials and trends
on one screen to create product specifications.
Hunter Harris and Bud Schulhafer, analysts with retail management consulting
firm LakeWest Group, said specialty retailers face challenges in deploying PLM
"Unlike ERP [enterprise resource planning] or allocation, which have
already been standardized on a piece of software, PLM is just starting to go
down the path of standardization," Harris said.
As a result, he said, standardized PLM solutions can offer specialty
retailers a significant hard-dollar cost justification and fast return on
investment. However, he cautioned that integration of PLM processes and systems
can be difficult.
"PLM is standardized on processes that need to be integrated into the
tool," Harris said. "And then you need to integrate the PLM tool with
the underlying ERP application. It's very good PTC
can fill this need, but the solution still comes with its own unique data
structure. Retailers face what degree of integration they want."
Schulhafer said FlexPLM's integrated sourcing and design capabilities can
offer PTC a major competitive advantage in
the PLM technology arena. "I don't see that type of connectivity in the
marketplace at this time," he said.
Dan Berthiaume covers the retail space for eWEEK. For
more industry news, check out eWEEK.com's Retail Site.