Frontech Solutions: Product Lifecycle Management
Working in software development, I often hear the term Product Lifecycle Management or PLM. Usually, it references software product development; however, PLM is key to all product development, including manufacturing. Frontech Solutions Inc. is the brainchild of Boris Djordjevic. Boris founded his company on the idea that manufacturers need a platform to move their products from creation and ideation to manufacturing and sales.
How did Boris get the idea?
Boris has always been a problem solver and from a young age, loved fixing things. As he finished school, Boris realized he could combine two of his strongest passions: travel and technology. He started his career in Europe, working with companies to address their early computer adoption and communication issues. Using his experience in Europe, Boris took an offer to solve a technical challenge involving computer communications between Thailand and China. Taking the opportunity to travel the region, Boris worked on several large projects, and eventually branched out into the relatively new area of technology: web software development. Prior to the ‘90s and the advent of the web, if you wanted to communicate between company sites, it was difficult, requiring multiple servers and much uploading and downloading of data. Web solutions changed everything!
During one of these contracts, Boris was working with the biggest leather supplier in the world (which just happened to supply Nike) and saw a major gap. How does a leather supplier ensure that they have the right specifications for the leather, the inventory and design and the ability to quickly communicate that back to their customers? It didn’t exist.
From there, Boris spoke with other manufacturers and discovered that a solution for tracking the communication from beginning to end didn’t exist either. Based on his research, Boris launched Frontech to design a robust PLM platform. The platform covers everything from initial design and requirements to inventory, variables around pricing (currency, regulations, materials) to track quality assurance and product history. In fact, the solution now has more than 200 modules available for their customers. Their clients are international and include brands such as Quiksilver, Converse, Billabong, AVIA, Etnies, and DC Shoes.
Boris started Frontech in Asia, but it was his wife who convinced him to relocate to Alberta. Not only did he look forward to raising his children in his wife’s home province, but he also saw massive financial potential in Alberta’s economy. The combination of great values, stability and potential for growth had him move from Asia to Edmonton (although he occasionally questions why he did not move to San Diego in the middle of winter).
Boris initially focused Frontech on the PLM Platform but with the changes and growth in Alberta, and with the emergence of COVID-19, there were new opportunities for research and development. He believes that one of the reasons that Asian companies are so successful is that they have adopted automation and technology at a higher rate making them more competitive. Keeping in the realm of inventory and manufacturing, Boris decided to start looking at what opportunities exist for automation.
Through their research, Boris’ team identified that 80% of manufacturing companies have an inventory management issue. These companies don’t know what inventory they have on hand, and where it is located. Research and consultation also revealed that for companies with fleets of vehicles, 50% don’t know where those vehicles are going, when registration and insurance is due,, or what is the value of the fleet These organizations tend to be mid-sized and don’t want to invest in enterprise software and the costs associated. As a result, the team at Frontech designed two tools to help with both of these pain points.
An example that Boris shared for these new solutions was that after COVID-19 emerged, a significant number of organizations needed to add e-commerce to their websites. Unfortunately linking e-commerce doesn’t automatically add inventory management so a pain point for these organizations was that they sold something that they did not have stock for. His team built an easily integratable tool that linked inventory to the e-commerce site to remove that issue (and keep customers a bit happier).
As an Albertan, Boris added one final note to our conversation, which is that he strongly believes in social responsibility. Whether it is supporting our business community, or donating to charities, it’s important to Boris that he give back to the community. He firmly believes that this philosophy has helped him prosper. If you have a technology pain point that you are not sure how to address, Boris and his team are happy to talk.
Check out our interview: