Critical Operations in Garment Production

The term 'critical operation' is often used by quality personnel, line supervisors, technical personnel, and industrial engineers in garment factories. 

A critical operation is an operation where the factory needs to take extra care than the rest of the operations of a style for various reasons.

Normally factories give more attention to an operation in the following ways
  • 100% checking of garments and garment components - all garments must be checked at a particular workstation
  • employ an experienced and skilled worker  
  • design workstation where least skill is required from an operator to make quality and quantity- like the use of guides and attachment to avoid defect generation and maintaining minimum production target

The term ‘Critical operations’ is commonly used as follows -

  • Quality checkpoints (inline quality checking station) are planned at critical operations to check all garment components (half-stitched) prior to moving them to the next operation.
  • Machine and manpower requirement calculation for critical operations
  • The production target for the critical operations and
  • Maintaining WIP level at critical operations

Now the question is that ‘how to know the potential critical operations in advance in respect to quality and production’? Critical operations in a garment for quality aspects and production aspects may differ.

In this article, I will show you the common criteria to recognize critical operations in a style. Based on that you can make an action plan in advance to avoid quality issues and production delays.

Critical operations: Quality point of view

When one looks for critical operations in a garment from a product quality point of view, he/she should look for
  • Defective prone operations: Kind of operations where defects frequently occur (maybe due to machine type) in a certain part of the garment. In such operations plan for better equipment and machine. 
  • Operation prior to sub-assembly and assembly starts: To avoid excess rework and alteration, it is advised that always set a checkpoint at the end operations of the part section. 
  • Operations in a critical zone of the garment - like chest pocket attaching, Zipper fly j-stitch, collar top stitch, etc.
  • Sewing on bias cut - length of the seam gets stretched when operator sews bias-cut panels. Like sewing neckline and armhole.  

Critical operations: Production point of view

When operations are looked into production point of view, the following operations are considered as a critical operation -
  • an operation with higher work content compared to other operations. These operations are potential bottlenecks in case multiple workstations are not set in a line. Output at bottleneck operations needs to speed up for the smooth flow of work in the line. 
  • an operation that is difficult to handle without a guide and attachments. When the operator sews more than two plies, add gather allowing differential feeding to plies by hand are critical operations.
  • The curve shape of the seam line, like set armhole, bottom hemming of curved hem.
  • an operation that is made by a special machine and difficult for alteration. 

I hope now you can easily identify a critical operation of a style.

You may be using different criteria to define a critical operation. What are those? 
In your factory, which all operations are considered critical operations and why?

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