For apparel and footwear businesses, the pressure is on to speed-up time to market, with a need to simplify processes and shorten timescales, all while increasing profits. For many such businesses, real efficiencies are to be found in pre-production, with many organisations developing planning tools to guarantee access to the right information at the right time for optimal production planning and then execution. IT-based planning tools in particular, as part of a bigger business management solution, are proving to be very helpful in production planning and decision-making, helping to make planning and execution not only faster but more accurate as well, providing the necessary information and the right tools to optimise operations.
Vital production planning information
In terms of necessary information, the right tools will provide timely access to the detailed information that’s needed to underpin swift, effective planning, information such as:
- Process flow of an order / list of tasks: this identifies what needs to happen and when. So, for example, cutting, then sewing, then packing and then quality assurance checks. The best solutions enable production routing based on pre-defined templates, which enables the pain-free set-up of new styles and orders.
- Production capacity of each process: this is relevant for a whole host of different processes including cutting, sewing, washing and finishing. You need to know production capacity line-wise and product-wise, so how many pieces per day, per line.
- Pre-production status: information such as whether fabric and trims are sourced, or not. And, if not yet sourced, expected sourcing date; whether the sample’s approved and again, if not, expected approval date.
- Shipment date or planned ex-factory date: make-to-order (MTO) and make-to-stock (MTS) orders need a clear shipping due date to trigger the planning.
Vital production planning tools
The best software solutions on the market not only furnish businesses with the right information, but also provide them with the tools required to make the best use of this information. The primary planning tools used by planners in the apparel and footwear sector to make planning tasks easier, not to mention faster, are:
- Planning board: a line loading plan can be easily made for single or multiple processes using a planning board. Dependent on time and production capacities of a particular line, you might have to plan for multiple lines to be used for a particular order or even have to postpone the production start date if there’s no free space to load a new order. Once you’ve drawn up a timeline for an order on a planning board, it’s easy to see any available capacity in a particular line and therefore straightforward to plan for future orders accordingly.
- Time and Action calendar: this vital tool ensures it’s quick and easy to identify production-critical dates and deadlines. Planned cutting dates and ex-factory dates (arguably the two most important dates for planning) can be picked from a Time and Action calendar, as well as highlighting the total days available to complete all production processes. It also provides a rough distribution of start and finish dates of each individual process, including cutting, sewing, finishing, folding, packing and final inspection, clearly showing order quantities, the processes involved and total time available for production.
- Line Plan sheet: with the right line plan tool, line capacity can be calculated quickly and easily. By firstly calculating capacity requirements for the order you’re going to plan, followed by checking the available capacity in all processes within a given timeframe, you can calculate individual line capacity in minutes. For example, if the estimated standard allowed minutes (SAM) of a particular garment is 30 minutes and a line performs at 50% efficiency (information which is all available to you via the software solution), the system can calculate the total man hours required to complete the sewing part of the production process.
A comprehensive, fully integrated software solution
Solutions such as Apparel and Footwear for SAP Business One simplify all these processes and calculations, giving business users access to the right tools and the right information to underpin planning excellence. Without these tools in place, apparel businesses run the risk of production delays and errors. In the current environment of super-fast fashion at the whim of ever-changing customer demands, speed and accuracy are key, meaning that an investment in IT-based planning tools is a wise choice for the savvy fashion business who wants to stay one step ahead of the competition.
For more information on how Argentis can help your business choose the right solution for success in the apparel and footwear sector, contact us.