Productivity Improvement Strategies in the Apparel Manufacturing

This is a guest submission from Bairy Venkata Ugendhar.

The productivity improvement is a sought after topic in the apparel manufacturing sector. Normally, the production team and industrial engineering team think and do things for improving the current productivity level and maintain the benchmark productivity. Everyone should think of productivity improvement in their shop floor for many reasons. Some of the benefits includes
  • Increased profit margin 
  • Reduced manufacturing cost 
  • Better production planning 
  • Increased capacity 
  • Reduced lead time 
So, what can you do to improve the productivity level on the shop floor? You should develop a productivity improvement strategy and act upon that to meet your productivity goal.

As per the Bairy, the following strategies of operations should be deployed by a factory to improve shop floor productivity. He follows these steps to in his shop floor.

  1. Review the style in question to be loaded, 3 weeks in advance. 
  2. Review availability of machines for the style as per plan. 
  3. Consolidate operations and machines as per plan.
  4. Review methods of manufacturing for each operation of the style. 
  5. Brainstorm whether it can be improved better theoretically. 
  6. Set all the required machinery and attachments as per quality requirements stated by buyer involving best technicians/best mechanics/best IEs. This activity to be completed 2 weeks in advance to loading the style. 
  7. Prepare a simulated layout and arrange machinery as per simulated layout with all work aids and/or attachments etc. 
  8. Prepare standard worksheets in local languages so that operator can understand and follow the instructions and procedures. 
  9. Prepare a skill matrix of the planned line for the planned style for allocation of operators to each operation(s). 
  10. Pick up operators from the running lines by replacing with floaters and induct them in the new style which is set in Pre-Production zone. 
  11. All the experts involve in educating operator with respect to handling/ method/quality to be followed and practiced on the actual fabric (around 100 pcs cut in actual production fabric) to get the confidence of live production. 
  12. Monitor each and every operator on daily basis for the quality, efficiency and plotted on a graph as a visual tool to act on for further actions to improve. 
  13. All operators should be trained to required skills and quality levels to achieve productivity ( efficiency and effectiveness).
  14. All the 100 pieces are checked at the end of the line and offered for AQL. 
  15. If passed for AQL, all the passed pieces should be sent for packing for shipment. 
  16. This entire steps are started 3 weeks in advance to production start date and completes the quick changeover process and is ready to run production as the operators and machine are getting transferred one by one as and when old style operations gets completed one over the other. 
By the time the last operation of running style completed, the last operation of the new style gets started soon after it and by the time it comes out of the last machine to end table for checking, quick changeover happens automatically.

Quick changeover team hand over the process to production teams (planned lines) and works with them for 3 more days to settle if any minor issues.

Now the next step is ramp up of each operation from the start date of the production in the planned line starts from the day -1 and monitored to improve further to set targets.

Above process is suitable for both high volumes and low volumes since the process is set externally 3 weeks before the start of production and cost effective as it reduces the changeover time drastically by quick changeover principle, facilitates skill development to operators, boost confidence in operators on actual fabric as it is shippable, quality improvement takes place which in turn reduces reworks and rejects on planned lines.

Overall leads to cost effective and productive lines.

About the author: Bairy Venkata Ugendhar is working as Senior Manager, Operations at Quantum Clothing India Pvt Ltd, an associate of Brandix Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India. Prior to joining Quantum Clothing, he held managerial positions in many organizations in the apparel industry.

Image Source: Youtube/exiid international

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