Inventory in a factory includes raw material stock, work in progress, and finished goods stock maintained in the premises to sustain the running production process. Inventory is a significant constituent of the current assets of the factory and hence has huge financial implications. It goes without saying that managing an optimum level of inventory is crucial in any factory.
When it comes to a bra factory, the raw material required varies tremendously depending on the design requirements of that product. The choice of fabrics, cups, padding, straps, and closure vary not only from buyer to buyer but also from style to style. The sheer raw material variety, a high number of components per piece, and variations in product anatomy and size, all make the inventory management process, further complex in a bra factory.
Inventory management is the lifeline of any factory. With greater emphasis being given to lean production systems today, effective management of inventory has become far more important. Inventory management is a balancing act, too much inventory blocks your working capital, too-little leads to stock-outs, production stops and delays and loss of business opportunities.
How to find the right balance of inventory in a bra factory?
Here are some considerations for inventory management for a bra factory:
Use of technology can be one aiding tool that can be very beneficial in identifying and maintaining the right amount of inventory in a bra factory. To manage inventory, we need to first start with strategic planning for the factory. Here, the factory management needs to contemplate the type of bra styles that interest their target brands/buyers. ERP solutions offer us intuitive tools to help the decision makers to analyze past orders to identify the inputs for this planning stage. Based on past order data, it becomes easier for the factory to assess which kind of raw materials they need to stock and which kind they need to purchase by order.
Demand planning is an essential part of inventory planning. Past inventory purchases, stock requirements, buying trends, market trends, seasonal trends, warehouse capacities, and business rules should all factor into the demand planning decisions in a bra factory.
Gone are the days when the supplier was seen as only the source of raw material. In today’s business scenario, supplier acts as a business partner whose contributions are the differentiating factor, between profitability and failure of the business. Maintaining a reliable supplier network not only allows the factory to save costs, maintain quality and reduce lead time, it has also become a factor that attracts new buyers to the factory in the lingerie business. Most of all, strategic supplier relations enables better inventory management, as it offers the factory the agility to secure the required raw material at optimum cost, quality and lead time.
Streamlining procurement processes
In a bra factory, the process of purchasing can get very complex due to the variety and number of material involved and the nature of suppliers and third-party vendors in the industry. Hence, if a bra factory finds a way to integrate their procurement process with their supplier, they can make re-ordering and moreover inventory management much more easily.
Easier said than done, overstocking has its attraction in factories. Relief from the fear of loss of order, or stock out, or delay in production can easily push a factory to overstock. What is important to consider here is, the excessive cost of overstocked inventory is not only blocking the factory’s working capital but also increase the costs of holding or carrying the inventory to protect theft, damage or obsolescence of the inventory. Software tools tailored to the needs of lingerie manufacturing can help in effective analysis of the required optimum level of inventory that frees up the working capital to use in areas that offer a higher rate of return.
Backorder and depleted stocks also carry a substantial cost. Tools like inventory management software, newsvendor model, etc. allow in finding the optimum inventory level. Moreover, real-time information tracking tools are available which can be beneficial in lingerie manufacturing, as the actual rate of consumption can be seen and thus inventory can be maintained accordingly.
Reducing inventory when high, and ordering stock when low is the easiest way to go. But proactive measures to manage inventory can be very helpful in bra factories where the cost of over and under stocking can be very high. To do so, everybody in the factory, i.e. all the functions in the factory need to be on the same page when inventory issues are concerned. This can be done by using integrating software for internal processes that can use real-time consumption data to transfer inventory between the functions to maintain the optimum level.
Any errors of miscommunications during the inquiry, quotation, ordering, sales support, delivery, contract management, invoicing, schedule agreements and return need to be avoided to ensure effective inventory management. There are ERP solutions that bra factories can tailor to their needs to remove any form of the guesswork from the complete distribution process. It will also enable the factory to better manage multiple sales channels, and reduce errors associated with manual data entry.
Supply chain management and fulfillment accuracy
By enhancing the supply chain management efforts, the factory can ensure lower inventory levels at better prices. Many tools like lean production, VMI, etc., come into play here. What needs to be considered is what fits for that particular bra factory. Advanced software tools come in handy to improve the overall supply chain response and fulfillment accuracy.
Inventory is a double-edged sword, which every factory needs to manage. In a bra factory, the stakes are higher, as the variation between the styles and their respective requirements is huge. Business intelligence software solutions are available today, which can be used to automate the inventory requirements of the factory. These intuitive tools not only helps in maintaining the right amount of inventory but also forecasts the future demands to align inventory to. Irrespective of the tools used, or the methods or approach incorporated, it is of the utmost importance, in a bra factory to ensure that to determine the right inventory balance.