8 Preferred Lean Manufacturing Tools for Garment Industry


Question: Which are the preferred lean manufacturing tools applied for Garment industry. If possible name few companies which have improved their performance compared to earlier years. ... asked by Ramesh Kulkarni

During my visits to garment factories, I have seen posters on lean tools and lean slogans in some factories. It means that garment factories are really started implementation of lean tools and practicing lean culture. Factories have posters on process flow chart of lean journey. Improvement pictures of before and after implementation of 5S and Kaizen have been displayed on departments. I have seen a lot of visuals on the floor. It ensures that something is happening in garment factories to bring good things and improve business performance.

But your question is what lean tools are preferred and applied for garment manufacturing?

In one factory, I found a poster where all lean tools were listed those were implemented in that factory. All implementation are done under the guidance of external lean experts. Factory has benefited a lot after implementation lean manufacturing. These are the preferred lean tools that have been implemented by experts. So you can start with these tools in your manufacturing facilities.

I have listed down 8 preferred lean manufacturing tools which are mostly applied by garment industry with a brief explanation.

#1. 5S: 

5S is about sorting of things in your workplace and inventory stores. Keep workplace and floors clean and arrange things in right order for easy access.

#2. Visual displays: 

Use visual displays as much as possible to communicate with people working in the factory. Display necessary information for quick access. Production board at the end of the line, Mocks of sewing operations at each work stations, quality inspection procedure on the quality checking tables, displaying right and wrong product, displaying exit sign and labeling every item are few example for visual displays factories can easily adopt.

#3. Standardization of work process: 

One core objective of lean manufacturing is an elimination of manufacturing wastes and non-value added tasks from the internal processes and systems. For this factory has to set standardized working method. When one follows standard working procedures, there is the minimum chance of making errors.

#4. Quick Changeover: 

Quick changeover, one of the lean manufacturing tools, is used in reducing waste in garment making process. While setting a line with new styles, line losses lot of time which is known as set-up loss. Quick changeover or SMED method provides an efficient way to set lines for the new style in less time.

#5. Error proofing: 

Error proofing aka Poka-Yoke is any mechanism in a lean manufacturing process that helps an equipment operator to avoid mistakes. It helps in designing a process in such way that there would not be minimum chance of producing defective product. Its purpose is to eliminate product defects by preventing, correcting, or drawing attention to human errors as they occur. Even error proofing technique can be used in information generation, reporting system.

#6. Kanban: 

Kanban is a workflow system. Kanban tool improves visibility and limit Work in Process. Where factories use Kanban, it helps to eliminate building excess work in process (WIP) in production lines.

#7. Problem-solving: 

Clothes are ever changing product. A garment manufacturer needs to work with latest products, new material and machines. When one does something, the first time there may be a chance of having problem. You have to short out the problem to meet your business goal. Problem-solving tools helps you and your team to find the possible solution without external experts. Ishikawa’s Fishbone diagram method and 5 Whys are two famous tools widely used in problem-solving.

#8. Workload balancing: 

In mass production, garments are made in a line where numbers of operators involve making a single garment. A balanced line means every operator has workload and nobody sit idle without work. This maximizes operator utilization. And as a result, you get maximum output from a line. It is not only sewing line, workload balance is required everywhere in the company – like department to department, process to process workload balance. 

Who had implemented lean manufacturing tools?

To know the names of Indian companies those have implemented lean manufacturing in recent years read “Lean manufacturing in the Indian Apparel Industry. I am not sure if those listed factories have been benefited from lean implementation or not.

Why do you need to see for examples who had improved their performance after implementation of lean tools (one or more)? If a factory implements lean tools successfully, it is obvious that there are measurable and visible performance improvement. Otherwise, if there is no improvement, factory not implemented any of the lean tools at all; they are just trying to implement the same.



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Online Clothing Study: 8 Preferred Lean Manufacturing Tools for Garment Industry
8 Preferred Lean Manufacturing Tools for Garment Industry
Learn about lean tools for garment industry, like 5S, visual display, standardization, quick changeover, poka-yoke, kanban, problem solving, and workload balancing.
Online Clothing Study
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