Secret Formula for Making Operation Bulletin for Beginners

Making an Operation Bulletin (OB) is not a big deal. If you understand sewing machines and garment operations and can work on Microsoft Excel (spreadsheet) you can make an operation bulletin.

If you are starting your career in Industrial Engineering, you must know these secrets of making operation bulletin and estimating SAM for every garment operation.

Remember, you are not going to make the perfect OB in the initial attempts. You have to practice a lot to become a master in making the Operation Bulletin.

Also remember, the most difficult part of making OB is estimating operation SAM (Standard minute). If your factory has SAM calculation software (like GSD, SewEasy or ProSMV), learn how to use the software. If you don't have any software, don't worry. As in a recent survey, we found that only 26% of companies use PMTS based software for calculating garment SAM. Rest 74% of companies don't have such system but they make operation bulletin with estimated SAM and meet the purpose of making OB.

There is a solution for this problem too - use Time Study method for determining Garment SAM.

Making of an Operation Bulletin

The secret formula is explained in the following. Practice using following guidelines to become an expert in making OB.

  1. Collect some operation bulletin sheets from the IE department. If you have no access to IE department in your factory you can refer a couple of operation bulletins published on this site
  2. Read the existing OB thoroughly and try to relate operation and operation SAM at 100% rating. Read OB for a number of products and cover multiple styles for the same product.
  3. Create one OB template in the spreadsheet following sample OB. Add formula in machine and manpower column. If you don't have OB format, download my sample OB sheet.
  4. Take one garment (sample) and Make an Operation breakdown. 
  5. Match operations of the sample garment with example OB and use that SAM in your OB. Fill SAM for operations as many as possible. In case you don't find data in the sample OBs, keep it blank for time being. 
  6. Wait for loading the style to the line. Do Time study for all operations and do cycle timing at least 15-20 consecutive operation cycles. To get an accurate result, first study sewing operator - if the operator is doing the operation in a rhythm. Neither at slow pace nor at fast pace? If possible select operators who are performing operations at normal pace. After doing time study for few weeks, you will be able to find operators working with a normal pace. If you are new to Time Study, seek help from your seniors for learning.
  7. From the cycle time, calculate standard minutes for sewing operations. Fill the blank in your OB with SAMs determined from time study.
  8. Compare pre-filled SAM of all operations with the average cycle time. Does it nearby or there is a big variation. If you found a big variation, study another sewing operator. If you still find there is a big gap between assumed SAM and Time study based SAM, replace the SAM in the OB with time study value.
  9. Other sections (columns) of the OB sheet can be calculated automatically by setting formula in the excel cells.
  10. When you complete making a dozen of OB by the above method, you will be comfortable with making an OB for similar operations. If you get new products and new operations, follow the above method again. Afterword you will be making OB and estimate operation SAM based on experience. 

Also Read: How to Make an Operation Bulletin of a Garment

Why use experience-based SAM?

I would like to share the real fact of the industry.

In my first interaction with an Industrial Engineer of a Delhi based export house in 2005, I asked her where she got those standard times written on the operation bulletin. She replied that they have taken standard time for each operation based on their past experiences. They were not using any tool for SAM setting – SAM values are an assumption based --- as they are experienced they know what time it should be. Though there might be a question of the accuracy of SAM values.

Things are not changed much in the last 10 years. As stated above many factories determine garment SAM based on their experience. Why not you?

The No.1 secret for calculating the standard time for garment operation is calculating garment SAM. You have to gain experience by doing the job - by preparing OB and observing operators on the sewing floor and conducting time study as much as possible.

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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