Time and Action Calendar

A “Time and Action" calendar is one of the most important tools for managing a project.  It defines the ideal date/time period within which the major activities of an order should occur against a scheduled delivery window.

We all know how useful To-Do Lists are when we are working on a particular project.  In regard to producing clothing, footwear, or fashion accessories, we will typically use what is called a Time & Action Calendar to monitor the projects progress.  The calendar is also sometimes referenced as a TNA or T&A calendar.  This is essentially a detailed to-do list that covers all the various steps of the production process.  The goal is to create a fairly accurate method to evaluate and maintain the status of a project and the length of time it would realistically take to complete the project.

When creating an apparel manufacturing time & action calendar, it should include the date the order is received all the way to the time that the product will be delivered at its final destination.  This would include manufacturing schedules, transit dates for freight, approval times, etc.

From the time the order is received to order completion a large number of tasks of various duration and requirement of resources are involved.  The process is complicated because the tasks do not always follow one directly after the other in an orderly manner.  Some process can’t begin until another process completes.  Other processes are completely fine running at the same time as others.  There are many moving parts during the order production process that must be considered.  A very detailed plan with well-defined responsibilities is must for each order to be successful and meet its delivery schedule.  The business of clothes manufacturing is not often a business that is a “One Man Show".  It is team work both internally within one’s own company and team work between various suppliers.  It is critical that all members of the supply chain are informed of the programs status.   Moreover, all tasks have to be accomplished with in a given time frame to ship out the garments on time.

Production managers prepare a plan in a spreadsheet (typically an excel file) listing down key processes in one column and planned date of action for each processes is noted in another column.  The file should include ever step in the process and the production manager should receive advice from various suppliers to properly complete the document.  For example, the label manufacturer will need to advice the number of days it will take them to produce the labels and the number of days transit to reach the cut & sew facility.  The hanger, zipper, and button manufacturer would need to do the same.  The production manager collects all the data and inputs the dates onto the calendar.  In addition to the components, they also determine the amount of time needed for sewing, swatch approvals, factory inspections, transit times, etc.

Once TNA calendar is created, it should be shared with other people and companies that are involved with the project.  It is important that each supplier in the chain meets his or her deadlines or it will have a negative effect on other aspects of the project.  For example, the fabric mill cannot begin production of fabric until approval swatches are sent to the buyers, reviewed, and approved.  What happens if the mill schedules 3 days for approvals, but the buyer declines the swatch?  The mill will need to make new swatches and re-send for approval.  This will take far more than three days.  If the production of fabric starts later than originally planned, that means that the cutting & sewing of fabric will begin later than originally anticipated.  This will push the entire project back and potentially result in a late delivery to the buyer.  It is important to plan in extra days for the unexpected.

In addition to creating a T&A Calendar, it is important to “maintain" the file.  If one date pushes back, it should be added to the calendar so that the entire list gets updated to new dates. 

For example, fabric was originally scheduled to arrive to the cutting facility on March 30.  The fabric cutting was supposed to be complete by April 15th.  It was then learned that the fabric mill is expecting a two week delay because yarn arrived to them late.  It is important to update the calendar because it is now known that it won’t be possible for the cutting factory to finish their portion of the project by April 15.  The more frequently we check the calendar for potential problems, the easier it is to correct deviations from the schedule.  

The TNA schedule processes are executed on daily basis so that all companies envoloved know whether an order is on track or becoming delayed.

Example of small portion of T&A:

PROCESSING:

 PO# ABC

Bulk fabric sent

26-Aug

Bulk fabric approval date

31-Aug

Care label layout for approval

5-Sep

Care label approval after test

10-Sep

Fabric for testing

21-Aug

Fabric approval for care instruction

31-Aug

Samples for testing

10-Sep

Samples approval for bulk production after test

20-Sep

In the apparel manufacturing industry the TNA is a perfect technique for tracking and following up of important milestones during the pre-production processes and production process to ensure timely delivery within an assigned delivery date requirement.

The chart consists of time frames listed for every action planned (major ones) and these actions need to be achieved on time according to the chart. The purpose of TNA is to cross check at frequent intervals, whether the planning is being executed properly and on time.  TNA is especially useful when a buyer requests to know the current status of execution of an order.

Buyer will not accept any delay in the garments delivery and if the garments cannot be shipped out on time then there will be good possibility that buyer may cancel the order or may ask for air shipment or Buyer may ask for discount. To avoid all such adverse situation merchandiser need to do proper planning to execute any order.

TNA is most important activity for timely shipment.

Learn more about this subject:

http://www.textiletoday.com.bd/magazine/690

http://www.onlineclothingstudy.com/2012/07/time-action-calender-format-for.html

By the way, fashion calendars are something completely different.

You may want to also learn about PLM Software and PDM Software.

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