What is Pilot Run in Garment Manufacturing?

The pilot run can be named as a trial production run. A pilot run is done after approval of the PP sample and before bulk cutting. The pilot run for a style (order) is conducted if the buyer asked for it. Many garment manufacturers set pilot-run as standard procedure. In those companies, Pilot run is must for all styles irrespective of buyer requirement.
Pilot run in garment production

Garment manufacturer cut around 100-200 garments per style for the pilot run. This production is done based on PP comments. All 200 pieces are treated as mini production. Factory follows complete processes planned for the order. Factory sets up stitching line. And production for the pilot run is done as it to be done for the bulk production.

Purpose of Pilot run

Purpose of pilot run is to check production techniques and quality requirement. Pilot run pieces are thoroughly checked by factory quality department at every stage of production. Based on the pilot run result bulk production is planned. Through pilot run process, production team learns about the critical operations in the styles, identify potential bottleneck operations. Based on their learning in pilot production run they prepare themselves for bulk production.

Just after pilot run factory loads bulk production.

There are many other benefits than the above. Like, cross checking the estimated raw material requirement for fabrics and threads. Re-planning of additional processes requirement maintain minimum WIP in the production line.

Points to be considered while making pilot run

  • Pilot must be processed in the production line instead of sampling section
  • All sizes and all colors are included in the pilot quantity (factory may cut jump sizes instead of all sizes).
  • If pilot run is requested by buyer, quality of the pilot run pieces may be checked by buyer QA
  • Pilot run pieces are included in bulk quantity in finishing and are sent with the shipment (if there is no variation than the buyer quality specification)

Normally garment manufacturers don’t perform pilot run for small orders. In the factory where I was working, we performed pilot run only for orders with order quantity more than 1000 pieces. In our case buyer did not ask for pilot run.

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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