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Education 004 - Production times, they are a changin'

With Coronavirus coming at Chinese New Year, it put in the world’s factory on hold. The standard month holiday has been extended to about 2 months. That has hurt a lot of people and are scrambling to get more stock.

Most places are just opening up today, Feb 23rd 2020.

Yet, almost all of these places are not back up to 100% capacity. People are coming back late from hometowns or have not come back at all. Which is a problem that most suppliers deal with after CNY and the process of rehiring and training has been delayed due to the Coronavirus.

So we need to ask the question… When are we able to get our stuff?

Do you want to get into a lesson of what happens with staff in China around Chinese New Year OR do you want to get into you figuring out what YOU need to do to prepare?

I thought so, so here we go.

We will start by confirming over-all production time or a “PRODUCTION LEAD TIME”

When we get quotes in the very beginning, we usually get a general timeline.

This is just for reference. No one promises anything. Reconfirm, reconfirm, reconfirm.

From the time you asked for a quote, clarifying all the details and preparing to make a sample and getting to production, things have possibly changed.

So… reconfirm.

I never assume it is the same. You will need take responsibly for understanding your timelines and this is the first step.

If you have very tight timelines, attempting this with a supplier you just started to work with is going to end up a disaster. I am not saying this is not possible, but you will just need to be on top of it.

Before you place a purchase order and hand over a deposit, make sure you know the production time and add 5-10 days for your internal timeline. We call this padding the timeline.

You always want to make sure you have more time on your side and not less. When you are under the gun, mistakes happen. Mistakes can cost a lot of money. If you are just starting out, maybe you never get your business off the ground.

Example – 50 day production time means:

- Deposit is made to factory.

- There are no adjustments to be made to the product.

- Production time and does not include -

1. Extra samples to be made or confirmed (unless discuss and included)

2. Quality control and rework at the end is NOT included (SURPRISE we screwed up!)

- Always add 5-10 days to the lead time the supplier give you. Make some room for problems and unforeseen roadblocks.

**Clarify - Does production time include weekends/ holidays?**

2020 Holiday list- here

New Year's Day

Likely Wed, Jan 1, 2020

Chinese New Year

Likely Jan 24 – 30, 2020

Qingming Festival

Likely Sat, Apr 4, 2020

Labour Day

May 1 – 5, 2020

Dragon Boat Festival

Likely Jun 25 – 27, 2020

Mid-Autumn Festival

Likely Thu, Oct 1, 2020

National Day of the People's Republic of China

Likely Oct 1 – 3, 2020

Golden Week

Oct 1 – 7, 2020


- In addition to our production lead time, understand milestone dates – Here are some milestones I suggest:

- PPS (Pre-production-sample) date - this is a sample made before production with the main materials for production.

- When will bulk material(s) arrive at the facility?

- When will other key elements of our goods start production - A point of no return -this can be many things like:

1. Clothing – Cutting material, embroidery or printing.

2. Iphone case – Raw materials are being used to construct your goods into final product. Plastic shot into a mould with your logo on it.

- When will the goods finish (NOT PACKED IN BOXES) and POST FACTORY quality control?

- When will the good be packed and ready to be shipped?

- What is your warehouse closing dates (Talking to freight-forwarder)


- What is a closing date?

- This date is to make sure get your products get in the warehouse on time, so they can be prepared and ready to ship the next week.

1. Example - If our goods need to leave China May 15th, we should be in the warehouse 5-7 days before that date.

Before you place a sample order, make sure you know the same information above. If it does not apply, move on to the next point.

More about timelines and suppliers giving them to you

Timelines are fluid in production. It is a fact of life dealing with suppliers everywhere, but especially with suppliers overseas.

Out of sight and out of mind is definitely an issue here.

This is why I want you to think about these questions and talking to the supplier about the items above. Get them recorded and agreed upon.

I like to take control of the timelines and information as much as possible. When you gather this information from the supplier, you have more reasons to reach out to them at specific times to get a real update.


…those times might move on you.

When they move on you, you can see how it affects they rest of your timeline. It will happen more often than you like.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. The more you work with a supplier, you will feel more confident in their abilities.

My advice is to be in the front of the supplier’s mind. Keep in close contact and be friendly with your point of contact.

Make sure to get a QQ, Wechat, Skype contact to have a more real time conversation BUT record everything in email afterwards. That is important so things don’t get lost in the shuffle.

You are not their only customer.

Having trouble with timelines or your supplier? Reach out to me:


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