US workwear brand Carhartt has invested in a new product lifecycle management (PLM) solution to help manage growth, boost speed to market and eliminate multiple data entries.

Carhartt has replaced its former PLM system with Centric PLM, which it says is a more flexible and effective solution to help manage the increased complexity in its global operations.

Founded by Hamilton Carhartt in 1889 to make durable and safe clothing for railway workers, Carhartt remains family-owned 128 years later and now counts more than 5,000 associates worldwide. In recent years, the Dearborn, Michigan-based company has experienced rapid growth, adding a women's workwear line in 2007 along with a host of new product technologies.

"Like most of our competitors, our manufacturing mix has grown to include overseas production," says vice president of product development Deb Ferraro. "Prior to Centric, we had a product data management system that was outdated, and it couldn't provide us with what we needed. Like many other brands, our main challenge is to get to market sooner."
"We needed better information to help us make decisions about what should be in our lines. Our old system helped with our product specifications, but we didn't have one location with all the information about each product. Our fabric specs were housed in one place, our garment specs were housed in another place, and the line plan architecture was stored elsewhere. We needed a single source for the truth."

After considering offerings from several other vendors, Carhartt selected Centric, adding the fact that the user community has an influence on new areas of development was "crucial" in its decision-making process.
"We look forward to moving closer to market with better data to guide us on the season," adds Ferraro. "We don't just want to reduce the time it takes to get to market, but we want to eliminate multiple entries of the same information. We really expect that this will help us monitor our quality, not only in development, but also in production."