How to Manage Garment Quality of a Factory without Visiting Them?

I received an inquiry from a quality consultant who is working as quality control representative of an apparel buyer. Normally, apparel buyers and buying houses keep a quality team for following up with supplier factories and visiting them daily for managing quality for the running orders. These quality controller/quality auditors visit the factories, spend time on the floor and production lines. If they see quality issues related to stitching or other sources, they ask the factory to rectify it. By doing this constant follow up and quality checking, factories able to make quality goods and able to ship better quality garments. Buyers also get good quality garments in the final shipment inspection.   

Garment quality management

The Problem 

The question I received - "As you know quality comes from needlepoint. Before COVID-19, I used to visit the sewing section daily basis to assure the right quality product. Now, I cannot do that because my management does not allow to visit the production floor due to this fatal situation of COVID. As a result, quality is going down and the product defect rate is coming high in our final inspection.

Other departments in a garment factory (like production, IE, Merchandising departments), production KPI are the same as earlier, as they are working and doing follow up with the factory team remotely through video calling (Webex meeting).

But for product quality performance, we cannot do this as our work is machine-based. Now the question is - how we can control this? Because of its practical work."

The Solution is - Mobile Application

This one is an interesting question and problem of the hour. My friend has pointed out the issue perfectly. I gave a thought on this and shared my views on how to tackle such situation and buyers’ quality team can control garment quality in the production line.

Mobile applications for quality data capturing and image capturing of defects can be one kind of solution. Roving checkers and end-of-line checkers from the factory quality team can capture quality data when they check garments. They can install apparel quality control applications in a tablet or in their mobiles for capturing data.

Then the factory can share the quality checking data with the buyers’ quality team on a real-time or hourly basis. In this way, the buyer’s quality control representatives can access the product quality data from a remote place (without visiting a factory).  Looking into defect types, defect source and images of the defects, buyer’s QC can give suggestions and solutions for the same by phone call. If needed they can also do video calling with the factory quality team.

I think this will resolve your issue of quality control support from outside of the factory.

In a follow-up discussion, he replied that he understood my points very much. But he thinks the said mobile applications will be a perfect solution for the factory's quality team. As a buyer end, he is not sure how these mobile applications can help buyer’s representatives for managing and keeping an eye to factory production in terms of daily quality control and rectification of quality data.

I think the exiting technology solution providers who have mobile applications for garment quality management, can take this challenge and come up with a solution for remote quality control. 

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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