Performance Improvement of the Maintenance Department in the Apparel Industry

In the apparel industry, machine maintenance department is one that works silently. They don’t get recognized much for their work. In the organized garment factories, maintenance people work closely with Industrial Engineering department when it comes for shop floor machine maintenance. In many factories, management does not concern about their performance. So machine mechanics just do their job to keep the machine running and always do breakdown maintenance.

A factory can gain substantial benefit by setting up defined work responsibility and making a list of activities to be done by the maintenance department other than just repairing machines when it breakdowns.
"Good machine maintenance is an investment in productivity. Well maintained machines are more reliable, safer and last longer. " .. Better work, ILO

In this post, you will find various activities of a machine maintenance department that would help to improve their performance. Some of the tangible benefits of performing given activities well are

  1. Reduced machine breakdown,
  2. Lower maintenance cost
  3. Lower product cost
  4. Improved Machine performance

The maintenance activities can be broadly classified into two major categories, such as machine breakdown maintenance and preventive maintenance. Main reasons of frequent machine breakdown in shop floor include lack of maintenance, or use of spare parts of substandard quality or faculty operations. Breakdown maintenance is always undesirable because breakdown causes loss of production, man hours and revenue. Machine breakdown disturbs the production of particular operations and subsequent operations by delaying feeding.

To improve performance of the machine maintenance (mechanics) department, factory should introduce preventive maintenance instead of following breakdown maintenance.

Following activities are necessary to improve machine performance.

Prepare a checklist – Prepare a check list what all things they need to do daily basis. They should have plan for scheduled machine maintenance plan with other works. Like, planning for machine requirement, attachment, guides and presser foots required for next style.

Prepare Maintenance schedule - The first step is setting up the preventive maintenance program is proper scheduling of the maintenance plan. Make a database of all types of sewing machines and other machines you have in the factory. Other machines like cutting machines, pressing tables, irons etc. You must have machine numbers on each machine types. Keep account of number of machines operational and number of machines those are not in use.

Make machine maintenance card and hang this cards on each machine to stop forgetting and missing checking of any machine on the scheduled date. Include list of thing to check in the machine maintenance card. See the fig for example.
Sewing machine check list
Checklist for Sewing Machine

Improving awareness and motivating maintenance team – In the sewing factory maintenance department involved in providing machine pressure foots, work guides and attachment. Industrial engineering department needs to share style information and list of machines, attachment and guides required for the upcoming orders with the production schedule of the upcoming orders with the maintenance department.

If a factory is giving incentive to sewing operators and other staff, maintenance department needs to be included in performance incentive scheme.

Prepare maintenance of records and reports. Accurate recording of the day to day maintenance work is essential for exercising effective control over the maintenance program, planning, the replacement and procurement of store and spares.

Initiate making a record of machine breakdown time daily, type of machines that got a breakdown, the time required to repair or restart the machine. This record will help you to find the top 20% machines that cause 80% of the machine breakdown.

Further reading: Sewing maintenance checklist by A&E

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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