The pandemic has brought a lot of changes to the entire end-to-end fashion & apparel landscape. This transformation will help democratize and connect solutions and datasets that will enhance the end-to-end product lifecycle. Brands and retailers need to audit the current technology stack and gain knowledge of the new technologies that are evolving in the industry. It’s high time for these companies to pivot their business models and move towards collaborative, real-time transparency. To transform their business models, companies should constantly research new trends to create new solutions, processes, features, and functions. In this article, let’s explore the top PLM trends for Apparel PLM software.  

PLM Trends 

1. IoT & Blockchain Technology 

The traditional product creation process is done by sharing emails or excel files or uploading PDFs to vendor portals. This process is disconnected from the PLM backbone and does not have the transparency to scale the future. In a supply chain, 20% of suppliers produce 80% of products. But the brands and retailers have no idea about how, where, or by whom the products are made, even when they are closely connected with the suppliers. The lack of transparency is a problem for fashion businesses. 

Companies can overcome these challenges by using PLM as a collaboration platform and technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Blockchain technology that support transparency. IoT helps users to collect data & analyze how spreaders, cutters, sewing machines, and other hardware are used in the factory. Companies can use blockchain technology to track and trace products through every stage of their lifecycles. The traceability is done by tagging everything from finished goods to materials, bundles to buttons with QR codes, or affixed with RFID tags. This tagging process allows companies to track everything from manufacturing to distribution and even end-of-life recycling. IoT & Blockchain technology offer real-time communication and total transparency in the product lifecycle.  

2. Digital Twin & Digital Thread 

A digital twin refers to creating a twin of a physical product in virtual space. A digital thread is a communication framework that connects traditionally siloed information from design to production, sale, use, and disposal or recycling. Digital assets contain a lot of data and they are highly visual in nature. There are multiple ways of using these assets. Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is the key foundational element in digital thread creation. 

To make the technologies more integrated, streamlined, and scalable, it is necessary to invest in foundational elements like PLM. The PLM system will help streamline business processes, upskill team members, reduce time to market and increase productivity in the organization.   

3. Augmented & Virtual Reality 

Virtual reality offers a completely digital experience. Augmented reality adds a digital layer to the physical layer to enhance the real-life environment in the industry. The use of AR & VR during product design and development will speed up the lead time. It reduces the need to create multiple samples of the product. Additionally, it reduces the use of physical sampling material and contributes to the betterment of the environment. It also reduces the cost of product development by reducing labor and transportation costs. The technologies offer virtual representations of the product to validate whether the designs are rightly done. The PLM software manages all the communication, iterations, and product details.  

4. PLM Based SolutionScape 

A PLM-based SolutionScape is a connected and harmonious platform ecosystem driving significant efficiencies, data consistencies, speed, and cost-saving for brands & retailers. The ecosystem is a collection of niche vendor products/services along with the PLM System to amplify data flow from product creation to supply chain execution. The SolutionScape will eliminate all manual and mundane processes allowing users to focus on critical product initiatives.  

Wrapping Up 

To maintain your product’s lifecycle, you must keep track of all details. You must ensure that each product has accurate designs, that its functions meet compliance standards, and that it satisfies customers. You also have to notify designers, engineers, manufacturers, and stakeholders immediately of necessary revisions. PLM trends and standalone software help centralize changes and ensure compliance adherence. 

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