Concept of IDLE TIME in Apparel Production

You might have heard about the idle time associated in apparel production. Idle time is considered as one kind of lost time.

Garment factories those follow progressive bundle production system must have experienced a situation where operators often have to wait for work between each bundle. This waiting time is IDLE TIME. This idle or non-working time can be significant such that the operator's true efficiency is reduced in proportion to the idle time between bundles. The cumulative of total idle time can be huge and factories may lose many productive hours everyday.

For an example, In a 40 machines line 10 operators are working without additional bundle (WIP) but the bundle they are working currently. Assume that all of them wait for 30 seconds for the next bundle. If they produce 400 pieces in a day (40 bundles), total ideal time for each operator will be 30*40 = 1200 seconds = 20 minutes, which is equal to 4% of shift time.

Read this post to learn more about progressive bundle production system.

Why it is essential to record and analysis idle time in your factory?
Factories strive to improve their performance (efficiency) but sometimes they are lost in finding a way for efficiency improvement. For them working on reducing idle time is an opportunity for improving factory efficiency. Most of the garment factories ignore measuring the idle time. They just let it go. One reason might be management wants to hide their inefficiencies in not to have a balanced line with enough WIP at each workstation.

You can only reduce idle time if you have data about how much idle time is lost in your factory.

Also read: How to improve efficiency in a piece rate factory?

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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