Innovation and new product development are essential for most companies to sustain future revenue growth. Customers demand more new products in shorter time intervals, often customized to their own needs. They want more attractive designs, better performance, better quality, lower prices, and instant availability. To meet these needs, companies have to be able to collaborate closely within their own organization and with partners and suppliers located in various parts of the world. At the same time companies have to manage increasing product and manufacturing complexities due to a quickly growing number of environmental and regulatory rules and requirements. Using a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) strategy to manage product data, and to integrate and automate business processes generally results in efficiency improvements. In this way consequently companies enable to develop more new products, shorten time-to-market, reduce costs, increase productivity, and improve the quality of products and procedures. Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) emerged in the early twenty-first century to manage the knowledge intensive process consisting mainly of market analysis, product design and process development, product manufacturing, product distribution, product in use, post-sale service, and product recycling. As its name implies, PLM enables companies to manage their products across their lifecycles. A product’s lifecycle always includes three periods: beginning of life (BOL), middle of life (MOL), and end of life (EOL). BOL includes the phases of design and production. Marketing analysis and product design make up the design phase while the production phase involves procurement, product manufacturing, and equipment management. The MOL period consists of logistics, utility, and maintenance phases; in the EOL period, the only focus is how to process obsolete products.

Within our research group, the attention has been focused in the study of PLM in the BOL phase (design phase) and fields of applications have been customer requirements management, PLM in aerospace sector and in the last years, PLM in fashion.

In the current “mass customization” scenario, product complexity is increasing significantly due to the necessity to answer as quickly and effectively as possible to many different costumer needs but maintaining costs under control. Today, as the product projects are getting more and more complex, the management of their requirements is getting more essential. To remain competitive in current rapidly changing business climate, it is important to identify customer needs and transform them into design of customer-oriented RM application. So it is imperative that customers play an active part in the development process in order to deliver a high quality application. Conversely, poor understanding of customer needs and inaccurate assumptions made during the analysis of customer needs may adversely influence design and manufacturing of the products in terms of quality, lead time, and cost. The apparel industry is characterized by rapid changes because the market is characterized by short lifecycle, high volatility, high impulse purchasing and low predictability. In particular, with the birth of the Fast Fashion, contemporary term used by fashion retailers to express that designs move from catwalk quickly to capture current fashion trends of the Fashion Weeks. These trends are designed and manufactured quickly to meet the need of the customers, who want high variety at lower cost. The companies to satisfy this need, have to give up the cloth quality, the eco-friendly process and the work ethic. In the fashion sector, PLM can help to handle the complexity of the garments by which they are characterised, in term of supply variability, supply variety, importance of the service provided by the fashion firm to the retailer, need to reduce lead time [15]. For the transition of the fashion industry towards the 4.0 paradigm, PLM can facilitate its connection to develop a systemic process of digitalization if it is adopted along the supply chain. The actual paradigm of the Fashion companies using a Model Based Design approach can be redefine thanks to the use of PLM in order to focus the productive process on the virtual prototype.