9 Things You Can do to Control Shop Floor Production in Garment Industry

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9 Things an Industrial Engineer Can do to Control Shop Floor Production in Garment Industry

This topic is related to garment manufacturing in the apparel industry.

Controlling the shop floor means getting daily production as per plan, producing desired quality of garments, and production cost and other factors are under control. Other production factors are like reduced line setting time, no excess lost time, and no excess overtime etc. Utilization of resources and line performances can be improved when you have better control to your sewing lines.

Normally, line supervisors are responsible to control the sewing lines. But when it comes to data analysis and data based decision making, they are not trained on that part. So, industrial engineers (IE) intervention is necessary.

Sewing operator working at sewing factory

In most of the companies, IEs are given multiple tasks. Some of those are related to managing and controlling the sewing lines and rest are not related to production floor. Most of the IE managers are involved in management meetings, project implementation, and solving employee issues. In true sense they couldn't concentrate to their actual jobs. In such situation it is difficult to control the production.

At this moment this is the right question for discussion - how to control the shop floor with busy work schedule.

You may already know about primary jobs of an IE, at least in your present company. In this article I will explain the objective of keeping IEs in a garment manufacturing unit. You are hired to control production cost and reduce it continuously or improving other processes which indirectly effect production cost and improving line performance by various means.

To achieve these objectives you need to do multiple jobs. Some the major tasks you must do daily basis are discussed below to control the sewing lines (sewing floor).

1. Check operator attendance report: 

Why? You can’t keep eye to every operator, if they are starting their machine on the right time in the morning. If operators come late, all minutes will be lost till operators start machine and start sewing. In case someone is absent, you need to find alternative for that absentee.

2. Prepare hourly production report of all operators: 

Most factories display hourly line output report in a white board. That is not enough to control the sewing line. You need to know operation wise hourly production. In case individual production tracking is not possible, collect production data for each sections of a line. Technology is available to perform this task automatically.

3. Analyse lost time 

Major reasons of efficiency loss of a line is lost hours due to lost time and idle time. To reduce lost time you need to measure those. Read this post to learn more about lost time categories.

4. Work on line balancing: 

If you track hourly report for all operations in a line, it will be easy to understand work volume throughout the line. Make line chart or bar graph. On the graph you can clearly see if your line is balanced or not.

5. Check availability of WIP: 

All operators must have enough work (WIP). You have to follow WIP level at line level and operation level. Plan for future (next days) loading. If you know loading plan (style) you plan for other things.

6. Prepare work schedule: 

Though work scheduling is not a common task of an IE, you must have schedule about what all style to be loaded in the line in advance. You should thoroughly study the new style and analysis requirement.

7. Measure line efficiency and labour productivity: 

To know your performance measure line efficiency daily. If possible measure efficiency of the individual operators. By analyzing individual operator performance (efficiency %) you can find low performers. Compare daily efficiency with the target efficiency. Then plan accordingly to improve line efficiency.

Measure labour productivity: Another measure of a line performance is labour productivity.

8. Motivate employee:

By measuring operator performance, you will get to know who are good performers in the floor. Praise for their good work. Prepare a list of monthly top performers and announce their name in front of the management. Other way to motivate shop floor employees is to provide them performance incentives.

9. Measure labour cost per pieces: 
There is a target labour cost per garment for each style. This cost is the amount taken in garment costing sheet for direct labour cost. Your aim should be to beat that target cost and bring down per piece cost. That is why you need to calculate it daily and compare it with the target.

Practice above things and surely you can control the line output, production cost and line performance.

You are welcome to share your thought to improve control on the shop floor.

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9 Things an Industrial Engineer Can do to Control Shop Floor Production in Garment Industry
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