4 Killer Non-Productive Measures in Garment Manufacturing

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In an earlier post I had shown the efficiency levels of major apparel manufacturing clusters in India and you have observed that factory efficiency range is in between 30-45%.

Low skilled operators is one reason. But this is not the main reason for such low performance. Major reasons are non-productive activities occurred during production hours. Most of the garment manufacturing factories don’t track following off-standard or non-productive time (NPT) and so they are not aware how much efficiency are loss due to NPT?


I got a chance to study and analyze of non-productive times in six garment manufacturing factories in North India. All factories were medium size factory. Each factory track operator’s non-productive time under 8-15 listed off standard categories. Factories tracked non-productive time using RFID based shop floor production tracking system, which ensures that most of the non-productive time had been captured.

Out of 15 non-productive measures considering all six factories there are 4 top most Non-Productive Measures in Garment Production that lower line efficiency.

#1. Waiting for work,
#2. Cutting not available for loading,
#3. Alteration and repair work in production line and
#4. Line setting

I call these non-productive measures ‘Efficiency Killers’. Possible reasons of high of-standard time are explained below.

1. Waiting for work:


It means in a line operators sit idle due to no feeding from previous operators.  

Possible reasons: 

  • Poor line balancing, operator absenteeism, quality issues. 
  • It is also observed that due to non-approval of trims makes operator to wait for a long time.


2. Cutting not available:


All operators may sit idle or few operators at the back sit idle for feeding next lay. 

Possible reasons: 
Insufficient fabric to cut and load, Pending fabric approval to cut, delay in cutting, less cutting capacity or poor cutting plan.

3. Alteration or Repair work:


When required stitch quality is not made at first time, garment parts needs to open and stitch it again. This task is called repair work or alteration.

Possible reasons: 
  • Operator stitched a defective seam and garment has been given back to him for alteration. 
  • Shade variation in different component of the same garment and need to change parts, 
  • Operators are sitting idle due to no feeding, so they are given to do repair work for other style or alteration for same style, 
  • Quality check points are not available or insufficient quality checkers in a line 

4. Line setting:

Possible Reasons:
  • Frequent change of styles due to small order run increase efficiency losses. It is observed that 4-7 styles are loaded in a month to a line. 
  • Due to shipment pressure or poor planning, sometime line supervisors need to stop line without finishing current style and a new style is loaded without prior planning and resources. These cause major loss of standard time. 
  • Factories run single style to all lines in floor and end style in all lines at the same day. In this situation line setting is happened at the same time which needs extra setting time than normal line setting 
  • Inadequate fabric for the style – lines need to stop and other style is loaded until fabric is sourced and cut. 
Line setting time can be reduced by better planning and line supervisors and engineers work proactively.


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Online Clothing Study: 4 Killer Non-Productive Measures in Garment Manufacturing
4 Killer Non-Productive Measures in Garment Manufacturing
Online Clothing Study
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