Mike: The recent economic downturn was challenging for everyone in retail, footwear and apparel. Winning fashion brands and retailers were able to drive sustainable competitive advantage from their PLM solutions by engaging their extended supply chain to boost competitiveness and accelerate time to value, working collaboratively internally and externally.
This is a critical model to leverage going forward, since even as inventories are getting back in line with reduced consumer demand, many product categories are being hit with increased supply chain costs in the form of higher prices on raw material, labour and transportation. And, especially in fast moving consumer goods, managing innovation at speed and scale in an increasingly global world will remain challenging as increasingly savvy consumers expect more product newness, more technical innovation and better prices each season.
WhichPLM: Do you see green-socio-economic compliance as being high on their list of concerns facing the business? Furthermore, are these issues something that Dassault Systèmes themselves as a business are re-evaluating?
Mike: Environmental compliance is very much a high concern of companies within the retail, footwear and apparel industry, and Dassault Systèmes is working very closely with industry organizations (such as the AAFA Environmental Committee) and industry leading brands to help lead the way in terms of helping our customers better manage and improve their environmental compliance and stewardship.
Dassault Systèmes has been a thought leader in compliance and sustainability for many years, providing innovative 3D software solutions for sustainable design and product development. Dassault Systèmes continues to drive and invest in offerings geared to saving resources and preserving the environment.
WhichPLM: The majority of brands are operating on an international basis with the lifecycle crossing many jurisdictional boundaries. Is there a strong enough vision or clear enough structure of regulation being formed and communicated by governments and industry regulators?
Mike: Although there seems to be very little international cohesiveness when it comes to environmental compliance regulation development, there is an understanding at the government and industry regulator level that consistency across global regulations is important in order to minimize the cost impact to businesses. More could be done, but this would necessitate the emergence of a one-world government or regulatory body. The constantly evolving regulations are often lead by industry initiatives and can often offer incentives for the broader supply chain.
WhichPLM: REACH, WEEE, RoHS are relatively new regulations that currently impact apparel industries (albeit mildly), how long before you expect to see stronger regulation for your industry sector?
Mike: The retail, footwear and apparel industry has been dealing with the issue of chemical substance restriction for a number of years, long before the emergence of the material compliance regulations in Europe. This is evidenced by the various global regulations referenced in the AAFA’s “Restricted Substance List” (RSL), many of which have been around long before REACH, WEEE, or RoHS.
WhichPLM: As an apparel specific PLM vendor, do you believe that green-socio-economic compliance has a significant role in the future development of PLM systems?
Mike: There is no doubt that environmental compliance data management has and will affect the development of PLM systems. It has already driven the development of material compliance solutions like “Materials Compliance Central” from Dassault Systèmes ENOVIA, but will likely continue to drive many more changes to PLM as issues of Carbon Footprint, Water Footprint, Energy Footprint, and other such environmental impact issues continue to evolve and mature.
WhichPLM: Do you take a view that compliance should be exclusively dealt with in PLM or does it extend beyond PLM such as ERP and the much wider business strategy?
Mike: Compliance is an issue that touches every part of the company, and needs to be dealt with through the entire product lifecycle (Concept, Design, Manufacturing, and End-of-Life). However, dealing with this issue within the PLM management of the product design process is critically important in terms of minimizing the cost impact that will result from any changes (material, design, and/or supplier) mandated by the regulatory compliance requirements. PLM also helps companies design-for-cost and design-for-compliance ensuring appropriateness long before products are brought to market.
WhichPLM: At what stage in the development roadmap are you with green-socio-economic compliance? Do you consider yourself as a pioneer for this sector, or are you taking the prudent approach to see how the industry initially responds?
Mike: Dassault Systèmes views itself as a leader within the domain of environmental and material compliance as evidenced by the fact that we have had the industry leading solution for the PLM management of material compliance for more than 10 years. In addition to this, we are working very closely with leading global manufacturers to develop PLM solutions that will support the full breadth of improving a company’s environmental stewardship.
Dassault Systèmes mission includes fostering social conversations by supporting education, promoting our partnership vision of product management, and by constantly ensuring that virtual product excellence is a prime driver of sustainable development.
WhichPLM: As of today, does your current solution have any features that could be classed as green-socio-economic functionality available and enabled for consumers to utilise and what benefits do you envisage those providing?
Mike: Dassault Systèmes has had the “Materials Compliance Central” (MCC) solution from its ENOVIA brand available for more than 10 years as a leading solution for helping companies in all product manufacturing industries to cost effectively manage their environmental compliance with regulations like the End-of-Life Vehicle (ELV), RoHS, and REACH directives. Additionally, the SolidWorks brand of Dassault Systèmes released an environmental impact assessment functionality for its CAD software solution back in 2009 called “SolidWorks Sustainability”. In 2011, Dassault Systèmes will be releasing the integration between MCC and its “3DLive” solution that will enable companies to provide an easy-to-use 3D interface whereby consumers can navigate a product’s sub-structure in order to better understand the technologies used within a product’s design that may still contain a restricted chemical substance, and why the substance is still being used.
WhichPLM: Would full traceability of the supply chain through PLM simply give apparel brands the ability to distance themselves from accountability or is there still a wider need for the brands to educate and work with suppliers to ensure the ‘best practices’ are maintained?
Mike: Full traceability of environmental performance indicators throughout the supply chain is extremely important, but it won’t be successful unless the supply chain is fully educated on the information needs and the importance of data accuracy. Dassault Systèmes recognizes that accountability resides with all participants and on-going program of education, best practices, and industry solutions will best serve all parties.
WhichPLM: Finally is green-socio-economic compliance simply a new tick box for apparel brands/system vendors to promote in the market or do you see it a true investment in the supply chain delivering a lot of added value?
Mike: Improving a company’s environmental performance is not just another “tick box” of corporate stewardship to be promoted to the market. Environmental performance is something that companies in all industries need to take seriously because it can have a huge impact on their market share, brand image, and even their financial performance, in addition to having a direct impact on customer safety and satisfaction. Non-compliance to the REACH requirements within the European Union (EU) is more than just an issue for companies who operate within the EU, but is also a significant supply chain issue when suppliers operate within the EU.
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