Different Departments in a Garment Factory and Their Functions

You may already know what a garment factory is in the apparel and fashion industry. A garment factory is a place where complete garments are made from the fabrics following a chain of processes. A process flowchart will give a better idea of how things are done in a garment factory. As mentioned in the title, this article will show you the different departments of a garment factory. Departments are set-up based on the group of activities to be performed by a team of people.

Further, we will see the various functions of the different departments of a garment unit. Garment manufacturing is a complex process that starts with sample development and end after shipping the finished garments to the buyers.

Different departments of a garment factory

Here is the list of garment factory departments. These departments include the pre-production departments, production, and post-production departments. The supporting departments are also listed here.
  1. Marketing and business development department 
  2. Design department 
  3. Merchandising department 
  4. Pattern Making, CAD department 
  5. Sampling department 
  6. Fabric Store and fabric sourcing 
  7. Trims and Accessory Store 
  8. Fabric Testing Lab 
  9. Production Planning and Control 
  10. Cutting department 
  11. Sewing department 
  12. Quality Control department 
  13. Machine Maintenance department 
  14. Garment Washing department
  15. Finishing department 
  16. Printing department 
  17. Embroidery department 
Supporting departments in a garment factory

In the above pre-production and production departments are listed. To run the factory smoothly, with production departments, one needs to set up some auxiliary departments. Some of the supporting departments of a garment manufacturing setup are as followings
  1. Industrial Engineering Department 
  2. EDP / IT department 
  3. Accounting Department 
  4. Human Resource and Administration 
  5. Shipping and documentation 

Various functions and activities of different departments in a garment factory

Activities of different departments explained here are followed by garment export houses as well as domestic garment manufacturers. You can define the job profile of your employees based on these and if required you modify the same.

If you don’t want to read the whole post and want a chart for understanding the primary job responsibilities of the different departments, see the infographic.

1. Marketing department

The marketing department in a garment company is responsible for marketing products made by the factory, finding new customers, and bringing more and more orders for the company. A marketing department is headed by the marketing manager and supported marketing team.
  • They meet with prospects and existing buyers. They show their latest product development (designs) to the buyer. They are given responsibility for business development for the company. 
  • This department showcases factory’s ability for developing new designs, factory compliance, and quality policy and quality performance. 
  • The most common marketplace for manufacturers is international apparel shows and exhibitions, where buyers and sellers meet to find each other. In the exhibition, buyers pick their interesting design and place orders if their target price is met. 
  • In this internet age, garment factories build websites for marketing purpose and increase their visibility to potential customers. Small factories post their product in online yellow pages and do content marketing to reach a bigger market. Social Media like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are used as marketing tools. 
  • More than just developing new clients, retaining existing customer is also important. To retain your existing customers, you need to satisfy your customers by shipping quality products and timely delivery and providing quality services. The main mantra to retain customers and making them marketer for you is to deliver more than you are paid for. Deliver more than commitment and customer expectations. 

2. Design department activities

  • Apparel design department is responsible for product development. They focus on developing garment designs in similar product categories the company does its business. Designers develop new design collection every season. Designers make designs as per the latest trends and buyers test. For big manufacturers, the designing department plays an important role in retaining customers by showing new designs to their buyers in every season. 
  • Designers develop a library for fabrics, trims and accessories, and for garments. 
  • Apparel retailers and brands those have own manufacturing set-up, normally set up the design department for developing new designs. 

3. Merchandising Department

Merchandising department works as a mediator in between factory and buyers. This department is considered as the heart and soul of the company. They coordinate with buyers for orders, send garment samples for buyer approval and receive comments on samples and other approvals. Merchandiser prepares the bill of materials, prepares garment costing sheet and follows up of production activities.

Merchandising department is formed with a team of senior merchants and junior merchants. Where factories work with many buyers, each merchant is allocated specific accounts with a couple of buyers.

In bigger factories merchandising team is given specific responsibilities as sampling merchant and production merchant. Based on their profile, sampling merchants look into sampling activities and communicate with buyers only for sample development and queries on sampling. Production merchant is involved in merchandising activities related to bulk production, planning, sourcing and production follow up.

Merchandising department activities 

  • Communicate with buyers 
  • Review the garment sample 
  • Develop garment sample 
  • Product costing 
  • Develop good relationship with customers 
  • Scheduling of pre-production and production activities 
  • Preparing Bill of Material (BOM) and fabric indent
  • Source raw materials 
  • Provide quality approval 
  • Prepare Production File 
  • Conduct Pre-Production Meeting 
  • Execute orders 
  • Providing after sales services 

4. Pattern Making Department

Pattern making department makes garment patterns and digitize patterns to CAD. CAD stands for Computer Aided Design. Pattern making department is headed by Pattern master. Pattern making department is also known as the technical department.

Following are the major Activities of Pattern Making Department
  • Pattern Making 
  • Pattern Grading 
  • Sample Development 
  • Garment FIT checking and correction of patterns 
  • Incorporate buyer’s comments on samples 
  • Making production viable sample 
  • Fabric Consumption Calculation 
  • Marker planning 

5. Sampling Department

Sampling department makes all kind of samples that need to be submitted to the buyer. Sampling department checks fit of the sample. Sampling department communicates problems related to orders to the production department.

As mentioned in the above that in small size factories, pattern making, and sampling is kept in one department. They have common activities. Sampling department’s activities are
  • Reading garment spec and understanding workmanship of the garment. 
  • Assisting merchants in preparing bill of material for the sample 
  • Calculating fabric consumption 
  • Making garment samples by following complete processes of cutting, sewing, finishing and checking. 
  • Measurement all samples and check the quality of the garment samples. Prepare quality inspection report for measurement and visuals. 
  • Fabric shrinkage test is done in garment form. 
  • Coordinate with production team about communicate about critical points for stitching and handling of a style 

6. Fabric Store and fabric sourcing department 

The fabric store is handled by Fabric in-charge and the in-charge is assisted by a team of helpers for loading and unloading fabrics and issuing fabric to cutting department. Fabric department receives and stores all kind of fabrics. Fabric rolls are kept in the rack or on wooden pallets.

Following are the major Activities of the fabric store
  • Sourcing of Fabrics 
  • Receive Raw Materials 
  • Checking of Greige and Finished fabric 
  • Prepare shade band for dyed and printed fabrics 
  • Basic Testing of Physical properties of fabrics 
  • Maintain inventory record for fabrics 
  • Fabric Issue 
  • Fabric printing 
  • Fabric Reconciliation 
  • Communication with Fabric supplier 
Also read: Fabrics sourcing procedure

7. Trims and Accessory Store

Like fabric store, this store receives all kind of trims and accessories and store in racks. Small size factories, fabric and trim store are headed by the same person. And the functions of this department includes followings.
  • Sourcing trims like sewing thread and packing accessories 
  • Checking of Trims and accessories in term of quality and quantity 
  • Storing trims and inventory maintenance 
  • Trim and accessory issue 
  • Dying of trims like twill tape 
  • Arranging trims in racks or bin to get trims easily when the request received from someone. 

8. Production Planning and Control department

Production planning department is responsible for planning and scheduling orders. This department is known as PPC department. They execute production and do follow with all production processes. Production planning and scheduling of activities are essential to procure raw material on time, complete production activities on time and able handover shipment on time.

Small size factories do not keep a separate department for production planning. Merchandisers do planning of pre-production activities and production head prepares a production plan.

Factories those have separate PPC department, following activities are carried out by them.
  • Job or Task Scheduling 
  • Material Requirement Planning (Inventory) 
  • Loading Production 
  • Process selection & planning 
  • Facility location 
  • Estimating quantity and costs of production 
  • Capacity planning 
  • Line planning 
  • Production follow up and execution 
Learn more about PPC in the apparel industry by reading my book on this subject.

9. Cutting department activities 

This department is responsible for cutting of fabrics and feeding sewing department with cuttings. Cutting department’s capacity is planned as per daily feeding requirement to the sewing lines. Cutting department set up with cutting department head, cutters, spreaders, quality checkers, and helpers for sorting, ply numbering and bundling.

List of activities of the cutting department is as follows
  • Fabric receiving from the fabric store 
  • Fabric relaxation 
  • Cut planning 
  • Fabric spreading/layering on the cutting table 
  • Marker Planning 
  • Marker making 
  • Cutting of fabrics 
  • Sorting, Bundling and numbering of garment plies (parts) 
  • Inspection of cut components 
  • Sorting of printed and embroidery panels 
  • Re-cutting of panels 
  • Fusing Garment Components 

10. Sewing Department

Main jobs of the sewing department are stitching of garment. In the sewing floor, various types of production systems and line layout are used. Factories either work in an assembly line or group system. Major tasks of this department are as follows but not limited to these only.
  • Line setting 
  • Garment stitching 
  • Marking parts 
  • Ironing garment components 
  • Checking of stitched garments 
  • Stitching Alteration 
  • Documentation 

11. Machine Maintenance Department

This department repair machines and look after maintenance of sewing machines. Major activities of the machine maintenance department are
  • Machine set up 
  • Repairing sewing machines 
  • Maintaining inventory of machine parts 
  • Doing preventive maintenance for machines and equipment 

12. Industrial Engineering Department

Industrial Engineering department assists production department in setting line, improving production and measuring production performance. Major activities of Industrial Engineering department are product analysis, making operation bulletin, calculating garment SAM, making line layout and workstation layout. They capture production data and prepare daily production report.  

In a typical garment unit, industrial engineering department handles following activities
  • Estimating the SAM of the garment for a new style for costing 
  • Calculating thread consumption for garments 
  • Providing operational breakdown with SAM and target for each operation for an order (style) 
  • Selection of machines and work-aids and number of machines for each operation of a particular order 
  • Method improvements through method study 
  • Time study of the operators 
  • Capacity Study of operators 
  • Line Balancing 
  • Calculating direct labor cost 
  • Develop detailed production methods, from detailed manual movements to major decisions on technology. 
  • Documentation of all methods using manuals, computer-based system as appropriate. 
  • Operator performance improvement 
  • Operator training program 
  • Production Control system 
If you planning to set up a garment factory, you must consider employing industrial engineers. Don’t fear about extra manpower cost but you will get a return of it. You have to utilize IE’s skill in product and production planning.

13. Washing department

Sometimes garments need to be washing after stitching to remove dust, tracing mark and to give a washed look to the garment. This department washes the garments, cut panels (if required), wash garment samples as required. 

14. Finishing department

Stitched garments are finished prior to packing into poly bag. Major activities of a finishing department include thread trimming, checking of garments and ironing. Packing department in a factory works side by side of the finishing department. Folding, tagging and packing of garments are done in the finishing department. Based on product categories finishing room activities may vary.

Activities of the finishing department are listed below
  • Thread trimming 
  • Attach button and button holing in case these jobs are done in the stitching section 
  • Checking of garments 
  • Stain removing 
  • Garment Pressing / Ironing 
  • Folding and Tagging 
  • Packing 
  • Communicate with internal department 

15. Quality Control / Quality Assurance department

Responsibilities of the quality control department may vary organization to organization but main activities almost remain the same. Activities of the Quality control department are as follows.
  • Setting up Quality Standards 
  • Establishing Quality SOP 
  • Quality Assurance 
  • Quality Control activities at the Pre-production stage: 
  • Auditing inward fabric and trims and ensuring only quality goods are accepted. 
  • Involvement in product development and sampling stage and take care of quality aspects of samples. 
  • Ensure that no faulty fabric is sent for cutting. If a minor fault is present in the fabric, defects should be marked on the fabric and the same thing must be communicated to the cutting department. 
  • Preparing the audit report of the fabric and trims quality. 
  • Conducting pre-production meeting before production start. 

Supporting departments and their activities

Departments if a garment factory those are no directly involved in garment production but support garment production team to perform their work smoothly. Necessary supporting departments are Accounting, EDP, Shipping and documentation, Human resource and Administration.

16. Accounts department activities

  • Accounting department prepare payroll for employees, give payments to workers and write checks for staffs. They manage accounts of the company. 
  • Maintain records of supplier payment and follow up with buyers for pending payment. This department is involved in all kind payment and cash management. 

17. Human Resource and Administration

  • This department is concern about the social issue of the employee. They look after recruiting and employee welfare. 
  • This department maintains employee attendance and absent records. 
  • Handle labour issues 
  • Factory compliance and social compliance 
  • New employee orientation

18. Electronic Data Processing (EDP)

Garment factories use many electronics items such as computers, printer, Barcode systems etc. Computers are used for daily activities like mailing, making reports and accounting software, EPRs etc. An EDP department is necessary for troubleshooting of the computers and software.

The major activities of this department are
  • Purchasing electronic items 
  • Breakdown maintenance of computers and other hardware 
  • Supporting internet and mailing activities 
  • Protecting the company’s server from outside bugs and viruses 
  • Database maintenance 
  • Report generating 

19. Shipping and documentation

Shipping and documentation department prepare shipment related documents. They communicate with buyers for shipment dispatch and send the shipment to buyers.

Note: The list of garment factory departments shown in this article are commonly found in the average factories. It not necessary that all garment manufacturing companies will have all these departments. In small-scale factories activities of multiple departments are given to a department to reduce overhead.

I hope you find this long post helpful and valuable. Show your love and share this article with your friends.

This page was originally published on November 15, 2018
This page is updated on October 22, 2020

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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