REI Lays Groundwork for Green with ENOVIA PLM

6 July 2007 | Features & Interviews | Source: Dassault Systèmes

Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), a $1.3 billion outdoor retailer with 90 stores and its own gear, apparel and bicycle brands, is intending to leverage its investment in ENOVIA MatrixOne from Dassault Systèmes to improve the earthfriendliness of its products, from the materials they include to the way they are shipped.

In the process, REI is helping to blaze a trail to new heights for the product lifecycle. “At DS, we’ve said for years that Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) should be about the entire lifecycle, but REI is one of the first users to express a commitment to follow that vision beyond standard product design and into environmental friendliness,” says Kurt Andersen, vice president of industry solutions for ENOVIA MatrixOne. “We’re delighted to be part of helping REI achieve its vision for products that minimize their impact on the planet and maximize the use of recycling.”

The key to creating “green” products ultimately is the same as it is for creating great products, says Kevin Myette, director of research and development for REI. The secret is in collecting, organizing and leveraging the information needed to make informed, responsible decisions.

“What we – and by that I mean both REI and the outdoor apparel and equipment industry as a whole – really need is the information to interpret the true impact of the choices we make,” Myette says. “Some materials, like bamboo, are rapidly renewable, while others like polyester come from non-renewable petrochemicals. Some require significantly more water and chemicals to produce than others. The material choice influences how and how often it needs to be cleaned. Some materials are more readily recyclable than others. All of these considerations should factor into the materials you select and how you combine them.”

LEVERAGING DS PLM FOR THE PLANET’S BENEFIT
REI’s investment in DS PLM – and especially ENOVIA MatrixOne for business process control and product data management – is pivotal to its quest to produce more earthfriendly products, Myette says. “The key is to ensure that we know what information we need and that we manage it in a way that makes it actionable rather than overwhelming. ENOVIA MatrixOne is our knowledge engine.”

In less than 70 years, REI has grown from a small co-op founded by a group of Seattle mountain climbers to a $1.3 billion outdoor gear retailer with 90 stores, the internet’s biggest outdoor store (REI.com), the successful REI and Novara brands of products, and more than 3 million active co-op members.

But few factors strain a company as much as success. As REI grew, so did the pressure on its product development group for larger numbers of more innovative products. But custom designing each product didn’t allow for synergy among similar categories of products, nor was it conducive to an overall strategy for reducing the environmental impact of REI brand products. “It became evident we needed more than just a place to warehouse information and generate a spec,” Myette says. “We needed to improve information flow throughout the product lifecycle, from R&D to line planning, design, development, sourcing – things that we didn’t get from PDM (product data management) alone.”

REI’s three-month selection process ultimately led it to adopt ENOVIA MatrixOne’s Accelerator for Apparel Design and Development, a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution from Dassault Systèmes. REI leaders liked the solution’s flexibility to handle tents, clothing, and the rest of REI’s product lines; its robust system architecture; and its strong match to REI’s culture.

REI has re-engineered its processes to be more efficient, effective and faster to market. It has used the ENOVIA MatrixOne tool to manage this process, which has helped REI be ‘right to market,’ rather than simply first to market.

ENOVIA MatrixOne’s Accelerator for Apparel Design and Development is a web-based solution that provides standard apparel industry data models and schema, predefined work processes and reports, and role-based user interfaces to speed deployment and simplify user adoption. The accelerator is built on top of the ENOVIA MatrixOne PLM platform and business process applications to provide scalability, performance and the flexibility to take the ever-quickening pace of business in stride. It also laid the groundwork for the robust data gathering and management capabilities needed for the type of environmental emphasis REI now envisions.

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER FOR REI
Since implementing ENOVIA MatrixOne, REI has full visibility into its product development lifecycle, including the ability to analyze sourcing, materials usage and pricing. “It allows us to capitalize on our rapidly expanding size, taking advantage of economies of scale with materials and letting us leverage every sourcing dollar,” Myette says.

ENOVIA MatrixOne has helped REI rearrange its processes to make them more efficient and better leverage the company’s strength in R&D and testing. “We had best practices, but not in the right order,” Myette says. “Most processes happened sequentially rather than in parallel. Everyone was working hard but speaking different languages,” because REI had no central source of reliable, accurate data. “ENOVIA MatrixOne helps us to speak the same language.”

“For REI, shortened design and development cycles means great products delivered to market faster,” Myette says. “For our customers it means they get the highperformance products they want and need at the right time. This is a serious competitive advantage. But few initiatives are likely to make as much difference to our customers as our new emphasis on eco-sensitive products and processes.”

Thanks to ENOVIA MatrixOne, Myette says, “we now have a knowledge-engine capable of serving up the information we need in the format we need to see it, to make responsible decisions. We still have a long way to go in working with our supply chain to collect and format that information, but with our DS PLM solutions we see significant enhancement of our role as a socially responsible company. It’s a real and achievable goal.”

 

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