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ScienceAsia 27 (2001) : 271-278

Demand Forecasting and Production Planning for Highly Seasonal Demand Situations: Case Study of a Pressure Container Factory

Pisal Yenradeea,*, Anulark Pinnoib and Amnaj Charoenthavornyingb Industrial Engineering Program, Sirindhorn International Institute of Technology, Thammasat University, Patumtani 12121, Thailand. Industrial Systems Engineering Program, School of Advanced Technologies, Asian Institute of Technology, P.O. Box 4, Klong Luang, Patumtani 12120, Thailand. * Corresponding author, E-mail: pisal@siit.tu.ac.th a b

Received 24 May 2001 Accepted 27 Jul 2001

ABSTRACT This paper addresses demand forecasting and production planning for a pressure container factory in Thailand, where the demand patterns of individual product groups are highly seasonal. Three forecasting models, namely, Winter’s, decomposition, and Auto-Regressive Integrated Moving Average (ARIMA), are applied to forecast the product demands. The results are compared with those obtained by subjective and intuitive judgements (which is the current practice). It is found that the decomposition and ARIMA models provide lower forecast errors in all product groups. As a result, the safety stock calculated based on the errors of these two models is considerably less than that of the current practice. The forecasted demand and safety stock are subsequently used as inputs to determine the production plan that minimizes the total overtime and inventory holding costs based on a fixed workforce level and an available overtime. The production planning problem is formulated as a linear programming model whose decision variables include production quantities, inventory levels, and overtime requirements. The results reveal that the total costs could be reduced by 13.2% when appropriate forecasting models are applied in place of the current practice.

KEYWORDS: demand forecasting, highly seasonal demand, ARIMA method, production planning, linear programming, pressure container factory.


Most manufacturing companies in developing countries determine product demand forecasts and production plans using subjective and intuitive judgments. This may be one factor that leads to production inefficiency. An accuracy of the demand forecast significantly affects safety stock and in- ventory levels, inventory holding costs, and customer service levels. When the demand is highly seasonal, it is unlikely that an accurate forecast can be obtained without the use of an appropriate forecasting model. The demand forecast is one among several critical inputs of a production planning process. When the forecast is inaccurate, the obtained production plan will be unreliable, and may result in over- or under- stock problems. To avoid them, a suitable amount of safety stock must be provided, which requires additional investment in inventory and results in an increased inventory holding costs.

In order to solve the above-mentioned problems, systematic demand forecasting and production planning methods are proposed in this paper. A case study of a pressure container factory in Thailand is presented to demonstrate how the methods can be developed and implemented. This study illustrates that an improvement of demand forecasts and a reduction of total production costs can be achieved when the systematic demand forecasting and production planning methods are applied.

The demand forecasting and production planning methods are proposed in the next section. The background of the case study, including, products, production process, and the forecasting and production planning procedures being used in the factory, are briefly described in Section 3. The detailed analyses of the forecasting methods and the production planning method are explained in Section 4 and Section 5, respectively. Finally, the discussion and conclusion are presented in Section 6.

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