Activities of Production Planning and Control System in Apparel Industry

For maximum effectiveness of production activities, customer’s demand should be satisfied and at the same time all the activities must be carried out in an economic manner. The set of policies and procedures that are used to manage work flow, inventories, production rate is called a production planning and control system. Production planning and control is one of the most important aspects of the apparel manufacturing industry. It can be shown as a cyclic activity starting with the customer and moving counter clock wise through the figure-1. At this point, we are concerned only with the activities the nested inside the larger box. The PPC system is initiated by the forecasting of customer’s demand or order, goes through planning and controlling activities and completes a cyclic process as shown in figure-1.
Scope of production control system
Figure-1: Scope of production control system
Activities of Production Planning and Control (PPC) System in Garment Industry:
Major functions or activities of  production planning and control system are discussed below.

1. Demand forecasting:
  • Starting point of the PPC activity. 
  • Future demand for products/service is always uncertain; so needs to be predicted.
  • Forecasting horizon (i.e. period covered by forecast) depends on the nature of the product and the lead time between the time an order is placed to purchase raw materials and the time those materials are transformed and shipped out as finished goods. It could be days, weeks or months.
  • Without a reasonably accurate forecast of future demand, it is impossible to accomplish the long-rate capacity planning activity.
2. Capacity planning:
  • Second step in PPC activity
  • Done in two ways- long range and short range.
  • The need is to know:
            i. How many people to employ?
            ii. How much overtime to schedule?
            iii. How much inventory to hold?
  • The target is to meet the actual demand economically.
  • If insufficient capacity or inventory exists, demand cannot be met and customers may be lost. If too much capacity and inventory exist, the company will be in a serious cash flow bind.
  • If wrong products are in the pipe line, the company will be hurt at both ends-hiring unsatisfied customers and unusable products.
  • Reasonably accurate demand forecasting is an essential pre-requisite to capacity planning.
3. Inventory monitoring and control:
  • One concern of capacity planning is the amount of inventory to be held.
  • A usual plan when there is a cyclic demand is to build more than what is needed during slow periods, thereby increasing inventory. Thus, when the demand is high, it can be met in past form inventoried items. Therefore, inventory levels will vary form period to period. With these variations in inventory, production quantity on each order will also vary. 
  • The control of inventory is the act of comparing what is actually on hand with the desired quantity.
4. Short range requirements planning:
  • Second activity that feeds off of the capacity planning output. This activity also responds to the decisions of inventory control.
  • The activity is one of looking at mean-term production capacity and goals, existing inventory levels, and discrepancies between those levels and desired inventory, then creating a master schedule of what to do in each production department during the next week or month.
  • To some extent, inaccuracies in the forecasted demand and changes in the capacity plan can be overcome at this stage. The amount of overtime and under capacity can be adjusted. Thus there is a degree of flexibility within the broader limits of the capacity plan.
  • The resulting output is the short-range requirements plan or master schedule.
5. Shop scheduling:
  • The master schedule is made without reference to the dynamic changes in the shop situation.
          i. Schedule must be changed:

             If people fail to arrive at work. Or
             If a machine collapses or breaks down.

         ii. Schedule must be adjusted:

             If scrap parts are found. Or
             If tooling is temporarily unavailable.
  • The master schedule then identifies the weekly production goals for each department but does not determine how these goals are to be met. This is the role of shop scheduling activity. 
  • At the beginning of each shift, the shop foreman must review what is required relative to the master schedule and what resources are available to him. He must decide what to do during the shift, the sequence in which shop orders should be accomplished and the resources to devote to those tasks. 
  • These production control decisions are them passed on to the production employer.
6. Dispatching and expediting:
  • Dispatching involves the release of necessary work orders, time tickets etc. to authorize timely start of operations and to record start and finish time of each job.
  • Expediting is logical step after dispatching which coordinates the progress function extensively to execute the production plan successfully. Here, monitoring is done by the controller to check whether the production rate is in line with the production schedule.
Thus, the production control activity is a chain of interrelated events that functions as a system. The decisions are made for different horizons in time and with different degrees of accuracy to effectively utilize the limited resources.

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