How Many Machines do I Need to Install In My Small Garment Factory? [Q&A]

Question: I am planning to set up a garment factory to produce ladies woven garments for export purpose. I haven't worked in the garment industry/factory. I am a trader of fabrics based in Surat, Gujarat. The question that is haunting me is that how many machines to be installed in a factory so that I am able to execute export orders in time. Machines shouldn't be too less that it creates problem in completing orders in time and number of machines should be excess that I have the unutilised capacity. I want to expand later if the business is doing fine. … asked by Pawan, 

Image: Manjunath Kiran via Getty Image

I have received this question last week and answered him via personal mail. Then I thought there are many aspiring entrepreneurs who might have the same question in their mind. So I am sharing my answer here. If you want to know how people plan for the machine requirement for the small factory set-up continue reading.

There are two methods that are commonly used to find the number of machines for a garment factory. I have explained both methods here.

At the same time, you need to understand that it is not the only the number of machines but you also need to select correct types of machines to make a garment as per given construction (design).

1. From the monthly production plan 

When you are going to start a factory, you must have a plan about how many ladies garments you want to make per month. Based on that machine requirement can be calculated. The following example will clarify to you how.

Suppose, you plan to make 5200 unit garments per month. You will get 26 working days in a month (considering weekly one day off). And suppose that the production capacity of each machine is 5 pieces /day.

Daily production plan is 5200/26 pieces or 200 pieces

Calculated machine number for this would be

= (Daily production requirement/production capacity per machine)

= 200 / 5 = 40 machines

Also read: How to Determine Machines Requirement for a New Factory?

2. From your order quantity and lead time:

In the second method, machine requirement is calculated based on an order quantity that you got from buyer or expecting a regular order quantity. To find the machine number you also need to other information such as
  • What is the lead time of the order? You have this information from buyers or customers.
  • How much time you need to make one garment (estimated) or daily production capacity of your tailors?

Garment making time - In Industrial engineering method, it is known as product SAM (standard time required to make one garment). Once you have this figure you can calculate number of machines. It might be quite difficult for you to find SAM of your garments. Don’t worry, in that case, easy way is to estimate that how many piece your tailors can make daily. For ladies blouse you can consider average 6-8 pieces (per day per operator). See the following example,

Example: Suppose you have 1000 pieces order and you have production time for 10 days (excluding sourcing and finishing process time). In normal practice, initial two days is lost for line setting and production is expected. So you have to make 1000 piece in 8 days that is 125 pieces to be made daily.

If your operators (machine) make 6 pieces/day then you will be needed 125/6 machines 21 machines.

In case, you want to make multiple orders at the same time, you have to install machines accordingly.

Now you have learnt the procedures calculating your machine numbers. But doing production on time also depends on other parameters. If rest of the parameters are all right then you can ship your order on time.

Note: One small note for all, on the above I have shown you the basic method of finding machine numbers. When you need details of the machines types and equipment requirement you can do that also with additional information and calculation.

Prasanta Sarkar

Prasanta Sarkar is a textile engineer and a postgraduate in fashion technology from NIFT, New Delhi, India. He has authored 6 books in the field of garment manufacturing technology, garment business setup, and industrial engineering. He loves writing how-to guide articles in the fashion industry niche. He has been working in the apparel manufacturing industry since 2006. He has visited garment factories in many countries and implemented process improvement projects in numerous garment units in different continents including Asia, Europe, and South Africa. He is the founder and editor of the Online Clothing Study Blog.

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