Nice Group Holding Corp., is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of sportswear and has been Thailand’s largest apparel exporter for the past 10 years.
They are a key strategic supplier to both Nike and Adidas, producing 62 million pieces with around 16,000 employees in 8 state-of-the-art production locations in Thailand, China, Cambodia and Vietnam.
performance to plan increased from 80%
planning time saved
production efficiency increased
Why focus on planning?
Changing customer needs was the key driver of the planning project, especially increased order fragmentation and reduced lead times. To cope with these trends, Nice Group identified specific project goals to:
- Improve both the speed and accuracy of the order confirmation process.
- Optimise capacity utilisation and at the same time achieve customer required date.
- Achieve the reduced lead times and QR requirements without impacting capacity or delivery.
- Ensure the planning process could support LEAN manufacturing with better scheduling and management of constraints and special processes.
- Achieve all the above but without increasing staff and management workload. In particular, improve the speed and accuracy of communication, coordination and reporting.
The solution and project approach
- A project steering committee made up of top management and the key process owner was established.
- The team along with the help of the Coats Digital consultants, highlighted business process areas that needed to change by studying the current way of working and comparing that to the best practice planning process.
- The steering committee agreed on an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) that would ensure the entire business would maximise the use of FastReactPlan and ensure results.
- Set up KPI, both business and operational measures and regular monitoring, to help management monitor the changes taking places and results achieved.
Nice Group started the planning project in March 2017, first establishing the SOP and then data interfaces to their existing ERP and production systems, then setting up the head office macro planning function and detailed planning across all 10 Thai factories.
With the SOP proven and established, the rollout to the overseas factories in Cambodia and Vietnam started in October 2017. The total project timeline to get all sites live, was just 15 months.
The difference – before and after
Khun Bird, Head of Nice Group’s Centralised Planning Team based in Khonkaen, explains the first benefits were in establishing a more realistic and transparent planning process across the whole team, “A much easier way to coordinate and communicate daily between head office and 15 factories, was the first big benefit. Before FastReactPlan, the centralised Khonkaen planning team and the up-country production units each worked on their own files. It was a slow process to coordinate and we were only able to map the latest factory plans with the HQ plan once a month.
“The lack of visibility and long-time taken to plan and coordinate across the group meant that in the past we would often only find our problem in the last minute close to shipment date, so no time to solve the problem with an effective solution.”
“With FastReactPlan in place, the macro HQ plan and the detailed factory plans talk to each other automatically, every day. So as a team, we have much better visibility of both the long-term and immediate forward plan, more accurate and instant view of available capacity to balance high and low seasons considering lead time and delivery.”Khun Bird, Head of Centralised Planning Team
Khun Bird continued, “We are also updating and sharing progress against the plan every day. We get automatic alerts of potential issues, so if we produce faster or slower than target the planners proactively work closely with the production team day by day focusing on problem-solving and reducing risk by re-plan based on the latest real situation.
“Another very important difference with FastReactPlan, is that we can make a far more detailed plan in less time! This means our team can now make a plan that is more realistic and achievable. We have the flexibility to move manpower across production lines to match style types and order size. We then are able to adjust the production schedule so it takes into account the frequency of style changes and the latest update of our sewers skill which of course varies line to line, and by product types in every season.
“Finally, I would say the other critical difference between our old way of working and with FastReactPlan, is the ability to apply LEAN pull system logic in real-life. We have been applying LEAN principles in our business for many years so we really understood the logic of PULL, but in reality it was very difficult to apply in practice using spreadsheets. In FastReactPlan, PULL principles are built into the system so pre-production tasks, like samples and pre-sewing processes such as cut, screenprint and supermarket, are all connected to the sewing plan. So automatically we have a clear picture and schedules of what needs to happen to meet the plan, and if the sewing or delivery plan changes we know what else needs to change to match. This makes it much easier to prevent bottleneck issues and keep the production lines running smoothly. “
1. Performance to plan improved from 80% – 91% over 2 years
“We have measured and tracked several KPI from the very start of the project. The first improvement we have seen, is a more accurate plan. When we started in 2017, our performance to plan averaged 80%, and after 2 years of using the system, our team have been able to increase this to 91% in 2019.”Mr. Adisak Angsriprasert
COO at Nice Group
2. Planning time and effort more than halved
Mr. Adisak Angsriprasert, COO at Nice Group commented, “Not only do we now have a much better planning process, it actually takes us less time than before. Our planning team have been able to reduce the time to plan each customer order drop from 1 week to 1-2 days per customer buy.
“We have also greatly reduced the time we need for the weekly production review. We now have all the up to date information we need across 15 factories in front of us, in one place, so the meeting which would often take nearly all day now only needs around 2 hours, as we are just focusing on problems and solutions.
“The FastReactPlan reporting tools are very powerful but there is a need to set up clear objectives for each report and standardise the design across the business.”
“We estimate that we have saved 70% of planning time and 50% of manpower on emails/line chat communication.”Mr. Adisak Angsriprasert
COO at Nice Group
3. Increased factory efficiency by 4%
Mr. Adisak Angsriprasert, COO at Nice Group commented, “Our planning team now have the tools and the mindset to plan to get the best production efficiency by focusing on getting similar product families running in a longer period.
“We have been able to successfully apply PULL system principles so we can then manage material supply to match the plan, and also better control WIP through the many pre- sewing operations like embroidery, bonding and screen printing.
“If we do face any problems, the team can see them sooner and find and normally find a solution before it affects production flow.”
“As a result over the past 2 years since we started with FastReactPlan, we have seen production efficiency increase by 4%.”Mr. Adisak Angsriprasert
COO at Nice Group
4. Improved customer satisfaction
Mr. Adisak Angsriprasert, COO at Nice Group added, “Our two main customers are very focused on speed and getting the right product at the right time. Our planning team now have much greater confidence when discussing capacity and committing to shipment dates with our buyers.
“Our KPIs show that our delivery promises to our buyers by individual PO, are much more accurate than before and also if we do face problems, we are much quicker to report and react to the problems so our customers feel greater confidence in our partnership.”
Mr. Adisak Angsriprasert said, “We have seen, with proper utilisation FastReactPlan and ERP, are systems that can drive and support better business processes and so we are committed to further digitisation to speed up the overall process and get more accurate information for decision making.”
“We continue to apply Kaizen (continuous improvement) to our existing systems and are currently in the process of implementing SAP for some functions and of course, will integrate that with FastReactPlan. In future, we expect to move towards FastReactPlan’s automated planning tools and also implement real-time production data capture in our factories.”Mr. Adisak Angsriprasert
COO at Nice Group
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