Benchmark Efficiency in the Apparel Industry

An operation manager of a workwear manufacturing company shared production and efficiency data of his factory. (The guy doesn’t want to disclose his name and the company name). They use LEAN manufacturing methodology and single piece flow where each operator may use from 1 machine to 3 machines depending on value-added time of the process. This is an interesting case of a workwear clothing manufacturing company.
I would be curious to share and compare efficiency data with various production facilities around the world in an effort to benchmark our own production efficiency. Without other facilities to compare against, it’s hard to know what a “good, better, best” level is or can be in your own facility.

We are operating our factory in the 72-75 percent efficiency range depending on absenteeism, product changeover, etc. As a goal of continuous improvement we are always striving to get better, but I think it would be fun to compare this across different production facilities around the world.

We use a formula of (SAM per garment X Number of garments)/total number of labor minutes available per production team/shift and usually

You might be curious about our product, order volume and production system we use. I am sharing details about our factory and how we are working currently. You may have a different set-up in your company. (I would also love to hear from you about your average factory efficiency).

Apparel product profile:


We manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) for wildland firefighters, products are expected to be extremely heavy duty with a very high level of quality. We produce a wide range of products (shirts, coats, pants, overpants, jumpsuits) with 5 different production groups that specialize in their own family of products.

Normal Work hours:


We run 1 – 10 hour shift daily, 4 days per week. (9.5 hours of available labor per person per shift). All averages stated are on the month.

Group 1: Product - Shirts
Production Qty: 7 operators producing daily average of 52 shirts
Product SAM: 55 minute average SAM per shirt (3 styles)
Production efficiency: 71.7%

Group 2: Product - Coats
Production Qty: 16 operators daily average of 51 coats but daily can range from 25-70 coats per day (this group is an outlier as they have the widest product mix of all groups, as much as 70 coats /shift if they can focus on the same garment for several days in a row, 25 coats may be spread across 4-6 styles of coats) for example, in April they averaged 51 coats per day but produced 18 different styles that month with quantities ranging from 1-572.
Product SAM: SAM per coat can range from 90 minutes to 215 minutes.

Group 3: Product - Overpants
Production Qty: 16 operators daily output avg. 44 per shift. Less style variation (6 styles produced last month.)
Product SAM: 132 minutes average per overpant
Average Efficiency: 63.7%

Group 4: Product - Brush pant 
Production Qty: 17 operators producing daily average of 81 garments
Product SAM: 84 minutes per garment (1 style)
Production Efficiency: 70.2%

Group 5: Product - Elite Pant
Production Qty: 4 operators producing daily average of 16 garments
Product SAM: 115 minutes per garment (1 style)
Production efficiency: 80.7%

We use LEAN manufacturing methodology and single piece flow where each operator may use from 1 machine to 3 machines depending on value-added time of the process. Not included in the SAM is the time for cutting, Quality Control. Groups 1-3 each have a lead to monitor workflow and 4-5 share has 1 lead which are not a part of the total operator count as they usually watch over the line or fill in case of an absent employee.

Also see: How to calculate line efficiency?

You can also share efficiency benchmark data with OCS readers. 

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