US sportswear firm Pearl Izumi has invested in a new product lifecycle management (PLM) solution to help optimise its product development process and drive the company's growth.

The company has selected PLM from Centric Software to help improve communication across its supply chain, streamline its business processes and allow its designers more time for creativity and innovation.

Established 60 years ago in Japan, Pearl Izumi designs and manufactures athletic apparel and footwear. Built from ultra-light microfibres, 4D chamois foam or a variety of other lightweight, technical materials developed for efficient moisture transfer, its product range is aimed at competitive athletes in cycling, cross-country skiing, triathlon and other sports.

"We lost so much in terms of communication, because our sourcing departments were having to manually extract and save the emails they received from vendors and materials teams," says Andrea Schwab, PLM system support manager. "It's been hugely important to be able to transfer that workflow and place that information into Centric PLM instead. 

"Before implementation, we had a regular meeting that everyone at Pearl Izumi dreaded called 'Risks and Opportunities', which involved every team manually updating a spreadsheet with red, amber and green cells to flag up what was off schedule and why. Today, that all lives in Centric, and our meetings are real meetings, not just opportunities to talk about spreadsheets; we're looking at real, actionable insights from PLM, making decisions and innovating new materials free – from the burden of data entry."

The company says its approach to PLM implementation was all-encompassing and includes every core module in the Centric PLM suite: line planning, product management, material management, calendar management, product sourcing, quality management and collection management. Pearl Izumi has also prioritised integration between PLM, ERP and demand planning, and is targeting deployment of Centric's mobile applications in the near future.

"Our materials team used to spend days gaining insights into our fabric inventories, whereas with Centric they can immediately view reports on usage by colour, for example, which is a significant time saving," Schwab says.