655 Campbell Technology Parkway,
Suite 200
Campbell, CA 95008 USA

Phone: +1 408 574 7802
Fax: 1 408 377 3002


Marubeni Moves Towards Digital Transformation and Boosts Operational Efficiency with Centric PLM

Japan’s general trading company, Marubeni implements Centric PLM to streamline the product lifecycle process across its Lifestyle Division, which specializes in OEM*1/ODM*2 business of products such as apparel, footwear and household goods.

“ I had a conversation the other day with a key user  who has completely migrated from spreadsheets to Centric PLM for his day-to-day work. Now, it's something he feels he can't do without. ” — Daisuke Matsuzawa, Planning, Strategy & Business Coordination Sec. Lifestyle Strategy Planning Division - Marubeni Cooperation


  • Diverse business in domestic and foreign networks and vast amounts of complex product information
  • Data discrepancies, leading to delayed product creation and reporting
  • Disjointed systems and highly individualized processes
  • Excessive time and effort spent on ineffective data entry and information management


  • Streamlined communication and exchange of product information with external business partner companies
  • Real-time data in a single source platform—accessible, visible and accurate
  • Enhanced operational efficiency
  • Improved team productivity and job satisfaction

“Each sales team used different data management methods and formats for its operations, resulting in various discrepancies. It was difficult to refer to past information and create reports because files and data were not managed systematically within the division.”

Daisuke Matsuzawa, a member of Planning, Strategy & Business Coordination Section of the Lifestyle Strategy Planning Division at Marubeni shares the pain points experienced in the department.

Today, Marubeni leverages Centric Product Lifecycle Management (Centric PLM) to streamline processes, gain greater visibility of workflows across different teams and departments while strategically engaging external business partner companies.

Matsuzawa says, “The sales teams that have started using Centric PLM are beginning to experience a real sense of improved operational efficiency.”

Identifying Issues and Needs

In February 2021, Marubeni announced a company-wide digital transformation strategy. Shortly afterward, the company formed an internal task force to initiate digital transformation in the Lifestyle Divison. Among the priorities was enhancing the efficiency of OEM/ODM business, which is fundamental to their Lifestyle Division. After careful consideration, the company realized that a PLM system could address their business challenges and bring them closer to achieving their digital transformation goals.

When it came to selecting a PLM system, Matsuzawa emphasized the importance of understanding the solution to get agreement from key users in each sales team and decision makers. “Initially, we were not familiar with PLM system as a solution, prompting us to conduct workshops for better understanding of our current initiatives, issues and needs while gaining internal buy-in from the sales team especially, who are key users of the system,” Matsuzawa explains.

To provide a better picture of how PLM works, Centric collaborated with Marubeni’s internal task force to produce a series of PLM demonstrations tailored for OEM/ODM businesses. The demo provided an opportunity for participants to offer feedback, which Centric addressed in subsequent demo sessions.

According to Matsuzawa, the division required a flexible PLM system that would support ongoing growth. “We evaluated the system’s configurability and flexibility where users can modify and add functions in a wide range of areas. It is also important to us to have a system that integrates seamlessly with other business systems and if there are any system updates, it could be implemented globally.”

After several workshops, Marubeni was confident that Centric PLM could ensure a centralized management of information across the whole product lifecycle process, from product planning and proposal to production management and delivery. Marubeni was impressed by Centric PLM’s out-of-the-box functionalities and industry know-how. “We researched and compared many PLM systems extensively before we finally decided on Centric due to their deep industry knowledge and the team’s responsiveness throughout our daily business negotiations. Atrustworthy relationship is important in such an extensive long-term project. Centric has successfully earned Marubeni’s confidence,” Matsuzawa adds.

Overcoming Implementation Challenges

Marubeni understands the potential challenges and careful planning that come with introducing a new system, particularly when securing the buy-in of stakeholders within a large, complex organization. Matsuzawa says, “There may have been hurdles, but that didn’t hinder the departments selected as key users to proactively promote Centric PLM. We believe their cooperation was one of the key success factors during implementation.” Optimistic about the continued support and buy-in within the company, Matsuzawa adds.

It’s inevitable the team will need time to transition to the new system, however, we believe we can gain significant cost optimization from Centric PLM through shared commitment and teamwork."

Then vs. now

Prior to the implementation of Centric PLM, employees expressed frustration due to inefficiency when it came to information-sharing. Matsuzawa explains, “We don’t have historical data we can refer to within the organization easily. Information tends to become scattered when the organization or person-in-charge changes, making it difficult to hand over work. Another thing we’ve found, is even in the partner companies, staff have their own processes and systems. There wasn’t a standardized procedure.”

That was before implementing Centric PLM. Today, the division access real-time data where all product-related information is consolidated into a ‘single source of truth.’ Currently, staff are actively engaging external partner companies to centralize information into Centric PLM.

“We were always conscious of making it easy for our partner companies to understand how their work would be integrated into Centric PLM. In the workshops, we asked the factory teams about their existing workflows and explained how the system works. They became convinced that information sharing through Centric PLM would be beneficial to them as well, compared to their existing workflows. The benefits appealed to both parties.”

Starting early, evolving always

Marubeni is affiliated with diverse business networks, which they believe will benefit from Centric PLM as the company plans to expand the number of partner companies in the future.

Matsuzawa states, “No business systems will gain full adoption right from the start. It’s necessary to deliver results and increase the number of users gradually. Introducing PLM system early was advantageous due to the time it takes for adoption. The implementation already shows substantial improvements in many aspects of our work. We’re sorting which information we can update and share in real time. We look forward to our continued partnership with Centric on this project.”

Demonstrating exactly how Centric PLM impacts users individually within the organization, Matsuzawa shares, “I had a conversation the other day with a key user who has the task completely migrated from spreadsheets to Centric PLM. Now, it’s something he feels he can’t do without. It will take time and gradual progress for new users to get to that point, and I am glad we were able to start using Centric PLM early.”

*1. OEM: Original Equipment Manufacturer; manufacturing of products sold under the name or brand of the contractee.

*2. ODM: Original Design Manufacturer. An ODM does everything from the development and design to the production of a product that is eventually sold under another firm’s name or brand.

More About Marubeni

Marubeni Corporation and its consolidated subsidiaries use their broad business networks, both within Japan and overseas, to conduct importing and exporting (including third country trading), as well as domestic business, encompassing a diverse range of business activities across wide-ranging fields including lifestyle, IT solutions, food, agri business, forest products, chemicals, metals & mineral resources, energy, power, infrastructure project, aerospace & ship, finance, leasing & real estate business, construction, industrial machinery & mobility, next generation business development and next generation corporate development. Additionally, the Marubeni Group offers a variety of services, makes internal and external investments, and is involved in resource development throughout all of the above industries.

Read more

View all references