In part 1 we looked at the three main areas of knitwear production (sampling, yarn dyeing, and knitting) and the delays often encountered during peak season. Now let’s take a look at some other ways that knitwear orders are commonly delayed, and some ways to keep your order on track.
(For points 1-3, please see part 1)
4. After Service
After care includes a range of services such as washing, ironing, inspection, labeling, and packaging. Each of these after care processes is important for adjusting the hand-feel, size measurements, and minimizing defects. For small factories, these steps will be done at a different location to the knitting process.
Many of these after-service factories are linked with the output of the knitting factories. They can usually scale their production up and down quite easily since the processes are less technical and less time-consuming. This means you are less likely to get stuck in a queue behind other orders being processed.
The main reason delays occur at this point in the process is when accessory suppliers nominated by the customer are slow to deliver. After-service accessories for knitwear products include care labels, hang tags, polybags, and outer cartons. If the accessory supplier does not deliver the pieces in a timely fashion, the entire order will be delayed. For this reason it is extremely important to think ahead when planning your order.
These minor pieces can easily be left to the last minute since they are such a small part of the order. However, entire shipments can be rejected because of minor problems with these accessories.
5. Small Quantities
The dyeing factories are so busy during the peak season that they are often unwilling to waste time on small jobs. For dyeing yarn, you may need to accept a color from the factory’s range of stock yarn colors, or face being shunted to the back of the queue. For knitting, it may be best to wait until the busy season has finished. The factory will be more likely to process your order quickly, and he will be happy to get an order when there aren’t many orders in the market at that time.
6. Customer Approval
If a customer falls behind schedule on his approvals, so will production. This is common sense, but something to plan for when schedules are put together. Make sure to allow enough time for samples to be sent wherever they need to go and add a few days extra since the customer may want to send you something back that is closer to the handfeel, color, or style that they are looking for. It is rare that the samples will be totally confirmed on the first try.
7. Chinese Holidays
The busy season for knitwear is not during the major Chinese New Year holiday, so you won’t have to compete with other orders and a difficult holiday schedule at the same time. If you are doing production during the slow season, however, this is a consideration to keep in mind.
1. Get in early
The most important thing is to place your order well in advance. This will put you toward the front of each queue and lower the risk of significant delays. The downside, of course, is that it requires you to be well prepared well in advance.
Negotiate the details of the order long before production needs to begin. Three things should be sorted out right at the beginning: approval of the prototype samples, price negotiations, and quality specifications. (The lab-dips, PP samples and accessories can be approved later, when production is ready to commence.) When these three things are settled you need to confirm the order. A deposit payment will usually be required at this early stage to guarantee your place at the front of the queue.
Manage the process
When it comes to scheduling during the busy season, pay close attention to each phase of production (see part 1 for more details on these processes). After-service still requires attention to the scheduling, but not nearly as much as knitting and yarn dyeing.
Plan for delays
Some of these delays are inevitable and unforeseeable. The best way to solve them is to plan them into your production schedule from the very beginning or hire someone who is familiar with the problems you are facing. Understanding that you will face delays – where in the process they will come and how long they will be – will help you to create a production schedule that can stay on time.
Planning ahead gives you the luxury of time. If you expect and plan for delays they won’t be so stressful when they (inevitably) happen.
Imports Oriental has great contacts, good guanxi, and a wealth of experience in dealing with these delays. If you need assistance navigating your orders through these murky waters, please feel free to contact us.