A pattern for successful new product development and introduction
Apparel maker's PLM solution supports growth by boosting productivity and making operations more visible
Where creativity and sound business practices meet
Marimekko is a leading textile and clothing design company established in 1951. The company designs, manufactures and markets high quality clothing, interior decoration textiles, bags and other accessories under the Marimekko brand both in its home country of Finland and around the world. When it comes to fabric, Marimekko management trusts young artists to create bold and avant-garde designs that will captivate consumers worldwide. But when it comes to business practices, management combines this support for creativity with a sound, organic growth plan and emphasis on financial profitability.
Producing textiles and clothing requires more information management than most people realize. For any single item of clothing, for instance, there must be information about fabrics, colors, sizes, accessories, work instructions, costs, suppliers and more. In the past, Marimekko used an automated system to keep track of this information. The system worked fairly well, but there were two drawbacks: 1) the vendor was no longer supporting the program and 2) the software wasn’t capable of automating or tracking workflows. There are many workflows involved in turning a design on paper into an item of apparel, and each must be done at the correct time and in the correct order. To reach the level of productivity necessary to meet its growth targets, Marimekko needed a better method for workflow management.
Local partner learns and teaches
The Teamcenter® product lifecycle management solution from Siemens PLM Software met Marimekko’s need for powerful information management and workflow automation. Marimekko worked with the local Siemens partner, Ideal Product Data, to implement the software. It was a good experience for both parties. Ideal Product Data learned how the apparel industry functions and Marimekko got a solution perfectly tailored to its needs – and then some. “Our industry was new to Ideal and as we taught them about it, they sometimes questioned our methods and suggested more efficient ways of doing things,” says Carita Frelander, PDM project manager at Marimekko.
The initial Teamcenter implementation was up and running in only five months. Within less than a year, Teamcenter was in use in two of the company’s three main business units – clothing and interior decorations. “The implementation of Teamcenter by Ideal has been the easiest IT project we have undertaken,” notes Pekka Ahlroos, Marimekko’s IT manager. “It was on time, under budget and exceeded business expectations.” The company’s production director, Helinä Uotila also rates he implementation experience positively. “From an investment and technical point of view, Ideal reached all targets as agreed.”
Information and workflow improvements
For information management, Teamcenter is a big improvement over Marimekko’s previous system. “It is more flexible and easier to find product information,” says Frelander. Also, with Teamcenter, all information is stored in one database, unlike previously when there were multiple repositories. “With all the product information in one place, everyone has the latest, up-to-date version,” Frelander adds. Faster searches and having all information in one place are helping improve productivity. The Teamcenter database currently manages information for 1,200 collections, 6,500 products, 3,000 materials, 3,000 accessories, 200 labels and 6,600 product recipes as well as 5,900 documents.
Another big advantage of Teamcenter compared to the previous data management system is that Marimekko now has an automated system for workflow management. “We must have our collections ready for two annual fashion fairs,” explains Frelander. “If things aren’t done at the right time and in the right order, we’ll have problems such as fabrics or accessories not arriving in time. When that happens, certain products will be excluded from the collection or added late.” This is less likely to happen now that the company has Teamcenter. “Teamcenter tells the right person what to do and when,” Frelander adds. “People know what they have to do and they can’t forget something. Everything is done when it’s supposed to be done.”
Apparel-specific capabilities boost visibility, productivity
A number of apparel-specific Teamcenter capabilities boost productivity throughout Marimekko’s development process. For example, collection management makes all information related to a particular collection visible at all times, including development status, item descriptions, owners, associated files (such as accessories) and so on. Material/fabric management captures all key fabric information. Recipe management manages all of the items making up a product, including quantity relationship and item number. There are twelve such apparel-specific capabilities in all, including pricing estimation, work
instruction management and sizing and grading tables.
A very helpful capability is one that automatically produces a product catalog for a given collection. “In the past, we had many people working on the catalog and it was still difficult to ensure that it was accurate and available in the short amount of time we had to get it ready,” says Uotila. “Teamcenter generates the catalog automatically. Now it’s ready on time and we know the information is correct. We can even print catalogs for individual customers. Customers love our new catalogs. This was a benefit of Teamcenter we didn’t expect.”
In addition to improving productivity and helping get collections and catalogs ready on time, Teamcenter is helping Marimekko management keep better track of operations. “With Teamcenter, we have better visibility into our operations, from design to production,” says Uotila. Sales agents and suppliers also benefit from the improved visibility, which helps them plan ahead. A better understanding of collection status – for all involved – also reduces duplication of effort and nonvalue-added activities. Overall, Marimekko has found Teamcenter to be an ideal solution for product lifecycle management. “This solution has been low cost of ownership, quick to value and it is really addressing some of our business needs,” says Raija Anjala, finance director at Marimekko.