This paper presents a novel metric, product flow number, to determine the product flow nature across the supply chain of apparel industries. The metric is based on mapping the dynamics of fluid flow across a pipe to product flow across a supply chain. Numerical analysis is conducted to examine the impact of the different metric parameters on the product flow. Results showed that smooth dynamics can be achieved through scaling production and extending delivery times, while undesirable dynamics are tied to complex product designs and increasing number of suppliers. Finally, the paper demonstrated how the new metric can be used as a planning and control tool for supply chain management in the apparel industry. © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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