Implementation of Systematic Training for Sewing Industry Operators

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by Paul Collyer

The first stage in implementing a systematic approach to operator training in a garment factory is to gain the commitment and agreement of management at all levels. Whereas this may appear obvious the principles and activities utilised in a systematic approach will usually differ greatly from existing practices and will require a complete abandoning of long held beliefs and habits. If you miss my previous article Systematic Training of Sewing Industry Operators – An Introduction I suggest you go through it first.

Why to implement systematic training?

Training is an investment and like any other business expenditure should only be used when a need is shown and results can be measured.

Many clothing manufacturing companies will have problems with:
  • long training times 
  • high labour turnover 
  • high reworks and rejects 
  • low operator performance & line inefficiency 
  • low operator morale 
  • Style change. 
A systemic approach to management incorporating systematic operator training will, if correctly implemented make a significant impact on all the above causing measurable improvements. 

It should be understood that a systematic operator training facility will not specialise on new recruit training but will actively work with existing “low performing operators” in the lines. (A low performing operator is defined as one who is not reaching the target standards of Quality, Quantity and Time).

How to go about it?

Once the decision has been made and senior management support agreed then it is necessary for production management to accept new concepts; 
  • It is the function of the training department to provide a service to production and it should therefore be fully integrated into the production process and not considered as a nuisance to be administered by HR. 
  • The old practices in many companies of one trainer sitting in a large training school with twenty plus trainees have to be abandoned. 
  • Results of training are entirely dependent upon the interaction of the trainer with the trainee. If the trainer is not allowed to work with a very limited number of trainees (1:3) then training times will be extended and results diluted. This approach does not limit trainee throughput numbers as the intensive training dramatically reduces time in the training area (typically 4-5 days) before release to the lines and has a positive impact on recruit losses. 
  • Trainees need ongoing support when on the lines until they have reached targets and cannot be left to the care of supervisors who often do not have the time, ability or inclination to help them. 
  • The use of felt or paper exercises to train sewing operators, still common throughout the Indian subcontinent is a relic of the past and should be discontinued. 
  • Recruits are trained in skills and not operations; a subtle but crucial change. 
  • Systematic training needs to be supported by effective instructional techniques and close management liaison with trainers. Management must appreciate the need for training, resource it adequately, and integrate it into the production management practices of the factory. 
  • Training will only be successful if properly trained trainers are allowed to interact with trainees and their activities are fully supported and resourced. 

Resourcing

Resources will depend upon the planned throughput of trainees. Is it intended to replace losses or increase the workforce and over what timescale?

A single trainer will be able to process three trainees per week. Is this sufficient or will more than one initial trainer be required? Additionally trainers will be needed to work with newly trained operators as they enter the lines. These trainers will be able to work with a maximum of ten workers each. Dependent upon complexity of operation and supervisory/management cooperation it may take the recruit four weeks to hit prescribed output targets (80% performance). Therefore two “inline” trainers will be needed. (Any spare trainer capacity can be usefully deployed working with low performing operators.) Additionally management may take the sensible and cost effective approach of using additional trainers on a programme of existing operator performance improvements. It is a simple calculation when outputs are decided to calculate the number of trainers required. However it should be noted that the trainer if correctly deployed will recover her salary many times over on a daily basis. (A further article on costs of training will be published at a later date).

One trainer working with three recruits will need a maximum of six machines in a training area. (Two trainers working with six trainees may need nine machines dependent upon recruitment strategy). This requirement is much smaller than many companies currently have in training schools. Most companies have spare machinery in store and providing for a training facility should not incur any additional expense.

All training will be conducted using specially designed exercises on fabric pieces. Again this should not incur additional expenditure as companies have redundant fabric in stock; even those take a “lean” approach.

The trainers themselves are the only asset that will require expenditure. Their salaries will be recovered many times over by savings made by reduction in initial training times, improved output by existing operators and most importantly the increased overhead recovery higher output creates. It is absolutely crucial that the trainers receive specialised training to enable them to perform their roles and this is the only additional expenditure needed in setting up a systematic operator training facility and system. A specialised training programme for trainers has been developed over many tears and information can be accessed at paul.collyer@btinternet.com

About the Author

Paul Collyer is a UK based garment industry trainer and consultant specialising in manufacturing, productivity and improvement initiatives. He has 42 years industry experience in Industrial Engineering, Factory and production management, and consultancy. He worked as a consultant with CAPITB, the UK government approved garment industry training board for 13 years before going freelance in 2001. Paul has worked extensively in the garment industries of the UK, North Africa, Middle East and Asia.

In India and Bangladesh he works as a Senior International Associate of Rajesh Bheda Consulting of Delhi. Paul can be contacted on paul.collyer@btinternet.com.

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Online Clothing Study: Implementation of Systematic Training for Sewing Industry Operators
Implementation of Systematic Training for Sewing Industry Operators
Implementation of Systematic Training for Sewing Industry Operators
Online Clothing Study
http://www.onlineclothingstudy.com/2012/01/implementation-of-systematic-training.html
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