Trip to a Cambodian Garment Factory

In the last month, I visited Cambodia for implementing real-time shop floor control system in a garment factory. It is the first Bluecherry SFC system implementation in Cambodia. It was my first trip to Cambodia as well.

Cambodian garment factory
Production floor in a Cambodian garment factory

I read an article on Cambodian readymade garment manufacturing industry in Fibre2Fasion magazine (issue: October 2019) just before the trip. What a consequence. I learned a few things about the Cambodian garment industry from that article. To know more about the Cambodian garment industry, I had chat with the employee of this factory. I will share my observations here in the Cambodian garment industry.

I did the pilot implementation in one production line. The plant makes products like aprons, long coats for hotels and medicals use. Their product ranges are a basic, but coats components are big (see the image). The standard time of a typical coat (without a chest pocket) is 20.62 minutes and SAM of a typical apron style is 4.54 minutes.

garment bundles
Cutting loading area

As a production system, they have straight lines. Machines are placed on both sides of the centre table. No fix direction of a worker facing when they do machine layout. Most of the cases, operator sit in the opposite direction, you can say it a traditional production line followed by garment factories. Centre table is used for material movement.

Production process Flow (Cambodian Garment Factory)

It is a big garment factory with 38 production lines. Each production line has space for 48 workstations (24 workstations each side of the centre table). After SFC project implementation, this Cambodian plant will use RFID tags for capturing production data and morning their shop floor. The objective of implementing an RFID system is to improve productivity and efficiency, measuring lost-time, and tracking employee performance.

They have few lines in which they layout machines on one side of the centre table. They keep a wide space in between 2 lines (aisle). Around a thousand workers are working in that factory. All work in a single shift – 7:00 Hours to 16:00 hours (Cambodian local time). A one-hour break is given to all employees at the same time - said by the factory team. Company does not provide food (lunch) to their workers. For plant staffs, they have a canteen. 

Here are a few notes about the Cambodian Garment industry:
Majority of workers are female. I will say 100% operators a female. Basic monthly salary 190 US dollars (minimum monthly wages). They work for 26 days. Workers get paid bi-weekly. The factory provides a salary to its workers in Dollar currency. 

Minimum working hours – 8 hours and 6 days week. Break time: 1-hour break - 11-12. No short break like tea break. A short break is also not given when they do overtime after regular work.

Holiday and festival – Workers get several holidays in a year.

Cambodian currency is Riel. US$ vs Cambodian Riel (Cambodian currency). $1 = 4000 Riel

Many Cambodian garment factories used to employ engineers and managers from other countries. They speak in the Khmer language. I can’t speak Khmer and do not understand Cambodia language. Ly Houn helped me being my translator to explain/train to the sewing operators and line supervisor. They have a line supervisor and line leader.

I met OCS fans in Cambodia

Ly Huon, the IE manager in the same plant, was surprised seeing me in their factory. He said he is a fan of OCS. He follows me and reads OCS blogs since he started his career in the garment industry as an industrial engineer. Till the last day of the trip, I did not recognize Ly Huon that I had email communication with him earlier. He told me on the last day that he emailed me with some questions. I replied to some of his questions. I did not reply to all his queries. It was an embarrassing moment when I am in front of a fan and follower, and I missed to reply to his emails.

Prasanta at Cambodian garment factory
Ly Huon and Prasanta Sarkar @ Factory canteen

Back to the hotel, I searched my email inbox and found a list of emails received from Ly Huon.

emails from Ly huon
Emails received from Ly in between 2013-2015

I know there are many OCS fans whom I did not reply to their mail. To all readers - in case, you emailed me earlier but did not receive my reply, I request you to resend your question. I will try my best to answer your questions.

Travel Notes

I flew from Delhi Airport Terminal 3. My flight was at night 23:30 Hours. The flight was via Bangkok, Thailand. There were around 2 hours stay at Bangkok airport. I reached to Cambodia, Phnom Penh Airport the next day morning 8:30 AM. There is no need for advance VISA. VISA is available on arrival for Indian. I applied for e-Visa in advance and got the e-Visa.

Related post: My trip to Turkey 

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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