Software firm PTC has announced a new apparel manufacturing initiative, designed to transform the way products are sourced and manufactured across the industry.

In a statement, PTC said the Intelligent Apparel Manufacturing (IAM) initiative is in response to "acute pressures" placed on brand and retail businesses by today's fast-paced, hyper-competitive market.

Conceived in partnership with digitalisation consultancy Black Swan Textiles, the IAM program leverages PTC's FlexPLM and ThingWorx Internet of Things (IoT) solutions to "bring the vision for Industry 4.0 alive for fashion and apparel manufacturers anywhere in the world."

"Combining PTC's technical expertise with Black Swan Textiles' decades of experience in automation, manufacturing and product development, the IAM initiative will allow the fashion and apparel industry to significantly reduce time to market, shrink inventory and digitally connect a fragmented supply chain," said Brion Carroll, VP of global business development for PTC's Retail Business Unit.

To establish a comprehensive link between PTC's FlexPLM solution and the full complement of factory systems and hardware, the IAM initiative has been forged by new partnerships between PTC, Black Swan, and other key players in the connected supply chain such as apparel manufacturer Blacksmith Internationaland Henderson Sewing Machine Co, Inc.

"To meet the demands of their customers, global manufacturers need access to real-time data from the shop floor in order to make informed decisions during the manufacturing process," added Edward Hollyday, VP of Black Swan Textiles.

"By connecting different assets and sources of data such as 3D design, PLM, cutting and sewing machines, an existing factory can quickly become an 'intelligent factory' and begin delivering on the promise of the Industry 4.0 revolution. As a brand or retailer, the benefits of integrating multiple threads of data and obtaining real-time digital insights into the factory floor are profound, and we believe the IAM initiatives will give PTC customers a huge competitive advantage."

Blacksmith International, a Utah based apparel manufacturer and global sourcing company in the vanguard of digital transformation, is currently implementing several solutions (including PTC's FlexPLM and MOVE Warehouse Management) and IAM technologies to improve efficiency, transparency and bottom-line profits.

"The ability to make business decisions based on up-to-the-minute data from the factory will drive the next wave of innovation, and it starts right here in Utah," said Brian Sather, Blacksmith International. "We are proud to be working with Black Swan Textiles and PTC to architect the factory of the future: connected, transparent, and a fixture of the local community."

While Henderson Sewing Machine, a third generation sewing machine distributor and systems integrator, will also play a crucial role in the deployment of IAM hardware. One of the first and most pivotal parts of the initiative is centered around the 'connected sewing machine' where legacy sewing machines from all makes, models and stitch types will be connected to IAM.

"The global manufacturing landscape is more competitive than ever, and the pressures placed on factories of all shapes and sizes demand a new level of connectivity and automation," added Frank Henderson, CEO of Henderson Sewing Machines. "Together with PTC and Black Swan Textiles, we are working to take manufacturers to that new level with the help of the Intelligent Apparel Manufacturing platform."

Further details on the IAM initiative will be highlighted throughout PTC's annual digital transformation conference, LiveWorx, which runs from 10-13 June in Boston, Massachusetts.