Apparel Manufacturing Terms and Definitions (Directory)

Apparel Manufacturing Terms and Definitions: Search apparel manufacturing terms by clicking on the below alphabets and click on the terms to know more about the term. eBook download link provided at the end of the page.


Agile Manufacturing

Agile manufacturing is the ability of the manufacturing unit to improve specific areas of responsiveness, shortened system changeover, product customization, cost and time, and efficient scaling up and down of operations. An agile manufacturing strategy integrates Just in Time (JIT) system and Total Quality Management (TQM) to respond with agility to the uncertainties in the market demand. The need of decreasing lead times and being flexible in fast fashion introduced involvement of suppliers in the process as being crucial to their ability to attain high levels of customer satisfaction.


Allowance, in work-study, refers to the time added to the basic time to obtain the standard time for a job. Operations in the apparel-manufacturing units do require the expenditure of human effort, and are dependent on other factors like working conditions, human skills, and machinery. Without an allowance, operators will not produce more but, on the contrary, the operator cannot maintain their rating of 100% during the working day. Since operators accumulate fatigue day after day, some allowance gives them recovery from fatigue and provides relaxation. The various types of allowances considered as required are: Machine allowance, Relaxation allowance, Process allowance, Contingency allowance, Special allowance.

Andon Light

ANDON lights are lighted status-display station, which provide instant, colour coded visual, and audible alerts to the manager immediately regarding any specific problem. "Andon" is a Japanese loanword originally meaning paper lantern; Japanese manufacturers began its quality-control usage. An Andon system is one of the principal elements of the Jidoka quality control method pioneered by Toyota as part of the Toyota Production System and therefore now part of the lean production approach.

ANDON lights can indicate the following: - Stop in production, - Machine problems, - Quality problems, - Operator away from the machine, or - Production in progress without any problem. There are various types of ANDON lights such as steady with buzzer, steady and flashing with buzzer, wall-mounted with/without buzzer, rotating/flashing/strobe beacons with buzzer, wireless ANDON light, Ethernet-based ANDON light. An example of ANDON light installed in an apparel manufacturing unit is shown below, where the colours indicate the following: . Red- machine problem . Amber- quality problem . Green - raw material problem

AQL - Acceptance Quality Level

Acceptance Quality Limit/Level (AQL) is associated with statistical sampling. AQL is also abbreviated as Acceptable Quality Level. It is the "minimal standard for a satisfactory process or product average." It represents the maximum number of defective units acceptable in a lot, beyond which the lot is a reject.

In the apparel industry, generally, for low price items and children's wear AQL of 6.5 and 10.0 may be quite appropriate, while for higher price items appropriate AQL may be 2.5 and 4.0. Lower the AQL value, stricter is the norm.

ASN - Advanced Shipping Notice

Advanced shipping notice (ASN) is a document that provides detailed information about a pending delivery. The purpose of an ASN is to notify the customer when shipping occurs and provide physical characteristics about the shipment so the customer can be prepared to accept delivery. ASNs facilitate the rapid flow of goods across the entire retail supply chain as receiving can be planned in advance. With the ASN, it is easier to determine which trucks contain the vendor products, so staffing becomes easier. It is sent electronically through EDI transaction set 856 allowing the companies to reduce paperwork requirements.

Assembly Line

An assembly line is the manufacturing process where in distinct tasks are assigned to a set of workstations and the parts are assembled into a product in a sequential manner. The set of workstations are linked together by a transport mechanism under detailed assembling sequences specifying how the assembling process flows from one station to another. Different operators carry out different operations in an assembly. An assembly line is advantageous as there is standardization in production, consistency in quality can be obtained. There is a lot of scope of special machines, attachments, and work aids.


Attachments are mechanisms attached to a sewing machine, which can be removable and do not alter the original frame of the machine. Attachments facilitate the operator to perform their work effectively and reduce the complexity of an operation. For example, sewing machine attachments that fold fabric, control or guide fabric and enable a relatively unskilled operator to sew quickly and with a high level of accuracy.


An auditor could be internal, customer, or external. Auditors assess the quality facilities, procedures and systems providing an independent assessment of the factory's quality systems and an independent view of the facility's precision in producing consistent quality products.

An internal auditor is the organisation's own employee but works independently to check non-conformance issues to take corrective action, as a preparation for second party (Customer/ Buyer) or third party audit. A customer auditor is the employee of the organisation's customer/ buyer. A third party auditor is hired or approved by the customer to verify their process standard and certify the manufacturer for a certain period.

AWB - Air Way Bill

AWB stands for Airway Bill. It is an air freight consignment note made out by or on behalf of the shipper that evidences the contract between the shipper and carrier(s) for the carriage of goods over routes of the carriers. ABW is a contract just for transportation and does not cover the merchandise value. It is a non-negotiable export document.

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Balancing Loss

Balancing loss is the quantification of the lack of balance in a production line, defined as the percentage of time not used for productive purposes with the total time invested in making a product. In apparel manufacturing, balancing loss occurs when there is a difference between the calculated number of machines (based on operation SAM and production target per day) and the number of machines actually allocated (nearby round number is allocated). Balancing loss can be expressed as percentage and is given by: 

Balancing loss% = (Number of allocated machine - Number of calculated machine)/ Number of calculated machines. 

 Read this article to learn more.

Basic Time

Basic time represents the observed time the elements would take to perform by the operative working at a standard rate. Basic time does not include allowances. To obtain basic time, the observed cycle time is multiplied with operator performance rating.
Basic time= Cycle time X Performance rating

Bed Type (sewing machine bed type)

The bed of a machine is the part on which the material rests. There are variations in machine shape available to enable easier movement of the materials around the machine. The variations in the bed of a machine are the bed types. The most common bed type is flat bed. cylinder bed, raised bed, monoblock, post bed, feed-up-the-arm and feed-of-the-arm are the other alternatives.

Bit Loom

Bit loom is fabric development sample. The term is used for a swatch that is a yarn-dyed fabric. In the sample development loom, Fabric is not made in full width (regular) in this loom. Only the required width and sufficient length of fabric are made to represent the fabric look for approval from the buyer.


BOM stands for 'Bill of Materials'. This is a list showing all raw materials or components required to make a garment and make it ready for shipment as per buyer's requirement. A BOM normally includes items description, consumption (per piece consumption) with a defined unit of measure, projected cost per unit and total cost of each item.

Bottleneck Operation

A bottleneck operation is that operation which holds up subsequent operations and possibly previous operations as there is an accumulation of garments (work in progress) behind it.
For an example, situations like an insufficiency of a plant or labour, increasing throughput of one section, may create bottlenecks in the course of production. Efficiency of the line, as well as labour productivity is adversely affected by work in process (WIP) level at bottleneck operations. Some of the ways to reduce WIP at bottlenecks are by improving the method, sharing the capacity, using additional manpower or machine, improving workstation layout, improve operator allocation.

Bundle System

With bundle system of manufacturing, the WIP is in bundles of small batches of garments that move from one workstation to another in a controlled way. Bundle system is of two types - conventional and progressive. In the conventional bundle system sewing machines are arranged in lines and the work flows from the central (store) area to the first machine, from the first machine back to the store, and then on to the next machine, and so on. In the progressive bundle system, the sewing operations sequentially arranged and each operator receives a bundle, does his work, reties the bundle and passes it to the next operator. This system is the most widely used system in the garment industry.


Bundling is an activity of the cutting department. It is carried out after the activities quality control of cut components, recut of faulty components, the numbering, and sorting of the cut components.
Bundling involves tying cut components with fabric strips to fix them together and to prevent their loss during transportation to the sewing line. Bundling is done of a full set of components of each cut style; grouped by size, and also by colour if several different coloured fabrics were laid in one spread. Bundles formed may all be the same size (ten units, one dozen, two dozen, etc.), or they may vary depending on the way the fabric has been spread.

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CAD (Computer Aided Design)

CAD, or computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), is technology for design and technical documentation, which replaces manual drafting with an automated process. It is an essential tool for pattern making, marker planning, and related jobs in the garment industry.
CAD provides several advantages as it makes design changes and revisions quick and efficient, and patterns are more accurate with less chance of mistakes.
One of the important characteristics of the computer aided marker planning process is the higher material utilisation and minimal fabric wastage. The computerised pattern grading process could improve the capacity to make several garment patterns sets in a given period of time, thereby reducing the cycle time.


Callouts is a section of the tech-pack which includes important details not mentioned in the spec list. If required, arrows should be made use of, and any specifics that the patternmaker will need to create the pattern of the garment should be clearly legible. Construction callouts include stitch and seam types. The image below shows the callouts/ comments/ instructions section.


Capacity is the maximum amount of work that an organization is capable in completing in a given period of time. It is the theoretical maximum (or installed) capacity, wherein it is assumed that operators are capable of working full 60 minutes per hour, which is practically not possible. Capacity is created from the availability of resources such as man, machine, time, space, and facilities that require capital investment by a firm. Apart from maximum capacity, other types of capacities are considered for a factory: 

  • Potential capacity - Maximum capacity adjusted for expected efficiency. 
  • Committed capacity - Total hours formerly allocated for production during a certain time period.
  • Available capacity - The difference between committed and potential capacity
  • Required capacity - It is garment SAM necessary to manufacture a specified volume in a certain period of time

Closed Marker

A closed marker consists of one-half of the pattern set. This type of marker is generally used for symmetric garments. The fabric is folded lengthwise on the table after spreading it in face-to-face mode. The subsequent cut components obtained from a pair of successive plies are the right and left garment panel i.e. both sets of pattern pieces produced from one patter.


CMT is the abbreviation for Cut Make Trim. Cut - Cutting of garment patterns from fabric role.
Make - stitching the complete garment with necessary trims.
Trim - trimming of uncut threads tails, cleaning loose thread from the garment after stitching and doing the checking, finishing and packing the garment CMT contractors are firms contracted to cut, make, and trim a product from fabric, findings and cutting marker. It is one of the elements in garment costing as well. In CMT manufacturing, apparel buyer pays the manufacturers for the cut-make-trim process. It is calculated based on the SAM of the operation, labour cost/min, and efficiency.

Colour Cabinet

Colour cabinet is a testing instrument used for visual inspection of coloured material to judge their colour consistency. Standard light sources that provide an identical environment for visual assessment are used for accurate testing and inspection. The viewing plate is inclined at an angle of 45 degree. The user can select among the standard light sources for visual assessment: 

  • D-65: Artificial Day Light 
  • CWF: Cool White Fluorescent (Office Lighting) 
  • TL-84: Triphospher Fluorescent Lamp (Showroom Light) 
  • TL-83: Triphospher Fluorescent Lamp (Showroom light for European Buyers) 
  • UV: Ultra-Violet Light 
  • Tungsten Filament: Incandescent Light It is also known as shade matching booth.


Compliance refers to the action of conforming in accordance with specified standards. The apparel industry is expected to maintain certain environmental, social, and governance compliance. conforming to recognized standards of production is one of the most important steps in order to produce high-quality products while achieving production goals and maximizing profits. ? Environmental- conform to environmental laws and regulations ? Social- Compliance with national labour laws, working hour policy, holiday compensation, and wage for leaves, equal remuneration policy, anti-discrimination policy, no child labour, health, and safety policy, et ? Governance- matters like board diversity, executive pay and business ethics

Critical Path

A sequence of activities is called a 'path,' and the longest path in the diagram is the critical path. A delay in any of the activities in the path will cause a delay in the project. In order to maintain the deadlines, project acceleration or re-sequencing needs to be done. A typical critical path management project plan identifies the critical path and all activity start and finish dates. In apparel manufacturing, the time and action calendar (TNA) should have the same activities as that in critical path. Using this method, it is one of the most effective techniques which is a systematic approach to identifying and reducing manufacturing time through the earliest start time and the earliest finish time and also provides a scientific method for product manufacturing and whole production management.


Cutting is a process of of cutting garment patterns from the fabrics using marker. Production is considered as "started" once the cutting starts. It is the process that takes place after spreading of fabric where in the spread is separated into garment components as a replica of pattern pieces on a marker.
It also involves transferring marks and notches from the marker to garment components to facilitate sewing. The cutting process is frequently done in two stages: rough/ block cutting and the final accurate/ fine cutting.

Cycle time

The cycle time is the time taken by the operator to perform one cycle of the operation. It includes the time between pick-up (when an operator starts a process) and dispose (when the work is ready to be passed on). To control WIP, the cycle times are to be kept low by following FIFO procedure for every cut.

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Daily Production Report

The daily production report (DPR or PR) is one of the MIS tools for operation management used in the manufacturing industry. It shows the nature of the production floor and summarises the reasons for the day's losses due to various reasons. 

DPR is made department wise as well as a combined report is made including the production of all major processes. In the apparel-manufacturing unit, they DPR formats are for stitching section, cutting section, finishing section, from cutting loading to order shipment. In a DPR, one can customise the details to record based on their requirement. 

Usually, the work loading quantity, processed quantity or production (on an hourly basis), and WIP level at the end of the shift/ day are captured.

You can download the Excel Template of the DPR from this page.


A defect is a shortcoming that is beyond the defined specifications or construction requirements. A defect might be related to specifications (variation of measurement), related to raw material quality (fabric and trims used in the garment), shade variation, stitching defects, construction defects or performance defects. Defects are typically classified as "critical", "major" or "minor".


Dispatch is the final process in the manufacturing unit wherein the garments are generally packed in cartons with the dimensions specified by the buyer and shipped to the buyer. Dispatch of the product is done by once the factors of right merchandise, at the right time, in right quantity, and at the right price is fulfilled. The processes that usually are done as a part of dispatch are: final audit, preparation of AOD (advice of dispatch), update dispatch quantity, load in the vehicle, and release for dispatch.


Downtime is defined as the period during which an equipment or machine is not functional. Downtime events are unplanned stops that are long enough that a reason can be assigned for each occurrence. In practice, downtime is defined as any unplanned stop that is five minutes or longer. When the machine is idle for events that occur for less than 5 minutes, are small stops that lead to OEE performance loss. To reduce the downtime, it is essential that downtime is tracked accurately, it is categorised with reasons, exposed in real-time, and the largest sources of downtime need to be tackled.

Drill Marks

For the ease of sewing, reference marks are required at certain places that are away from the edge of the garment. For example, to position pockets, darts, and similar features, a hole is often drilled through all the plies of the fabric in the lay. These are called drill marks. The drill marks can be created by: a cold drill, hot drill (to slightly scorch the fabric for visibility), hypodermic ink, or by passing a long thread through the lay. A motorised drill behind the cutting head of cutting machine can provide drill holes as required.

Dyed-to-Match (DTM)

DTM is the abbreviation for Dyed-to-Match. This phrase is most used for specifying that a trim is to match the base fabric colour rather than any colour code Pantone card. In the product specification sheet, when buyer mentions trims colour as DTM, it needs to understand that, factory needs to match the colour based on the garment base fabric colour.
Trims (such as thread, buttons, laces, zippers, etc.) may be dyed to match the colour and shade of the fabric of the garment. Example: Button DTM button or DTM sewing thread.

Dynamic Balance

Line balancing by allocation of operators to operations that they can do the best is called dynamic balance. In a dynamic balance, the number of operators required is less and leads to better operator utilisation, but operator movement is more and so is the warming up loss. The WIP management is difficult.

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Efficiency is a way of representing the productivity in terms of how one is performing against a target expressed as time per garment or a required level of production. The formulae for calculating efficiencies are as follows:
Efficiency%=(Time Allowed)/(Time Taken) X 100%
Where, Time allowed=Quantity produced X time per unit Time taken=Attented minutes-Lost time In terms of production, Efficiency%=(Achieved Production)/(Target Production) X 100% The efficiencies commonly assessed in a manufacturing unit are - Line efficiency, Factory Average efficiency, Operator efficiency.


Embellishments are a value addition to a garment that impart aesthetics to the garment making it visually engaging. Embellishments could be done on a garment panel (before sewing) or on a stitched garment. Various types of embroidery, print, bows, cord, or rhinestones are embellishments on a garment.

End Loss

End loss refers to the portion of the fabric lay that is left uncovered by the marker. It is unavoidable that a little quantity of fabric is wasted at the ends and hence while layering fabric on the cutting table, an allowance is taken - termed as end loss. This extra fabric left is required to ease cutting. However, the end loss of a fabric for a particular lay needs to be standardised and kept to a minimum, which is usually 2 cm per end or 4 cm per ply.


Ergonomics refers to the interaction between people and machines and the factors affecting their interaction. It particularly involves understanding the anatomical, physiological, and psychological factors to improve working conditions for the operator and man-machine interaction. In the workplace, occupational safety and workplace ergonomics has an effect on the production quality and quantity, labour turnover, and increased absenteeism resulting from workers' dissatisfaction. In an apparel manufacturing unit, ergonomics considerations need to be done for all departments right from fabric storage to finishing in terms of worker posture, lighting, noise, and vibration.


ERP, an enterprise-wide system that integrates the business functions and processes of an organization, typically includes manufacturing, logistics, distribution, inventory, shipping, invoicing, and accounting. The advantage of ERP is that that it combines the data of separate departments. This helps keep information in synchronization across multiple disparate systems. ERP seamlessly manages the entire apparel process - across multiple devices - from procurement to payment. It can also have business intelligence (BI) features to assist managers in all of their decision making with graphics-based up-to-the-minute data.

Ex-Factory Date

Ex-factory date is the date on which the supplier (here an apparel manufacturer) needs to keep the shipment ready and need to dispatch the shipment out from the factory and hand it over to the shipment forwarder. Packing and garment inspection need to be done prior to the ex-factory date. According to the ex-factory date, the garment manufacturer plans its production schedule, pre-production and material sourcing schedule.


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Fabric is the major raw material for the garment. It is formed by weaving or knitting yarns or pressed into a felt. Fabrics used in apparel are made from a wide range of different materials such as cotton, linen, wool, polyester, nylon, acrylic, etc. The fabric cost constitutes 60 to 70 percent of the total garment making cost. Therefore, in the fashion production process, fabric is the most valuable material.

Fabric Inspection

Fabric inspection is the process of identification, evaluation, and analysis of defects that a fabric roll may have. It is carried out based on various standards and acceptance or rejection of roll is done accordingly. The fabric faults that are identified, are labelled and recorded in a fabric inspection form. The parameters usually inspected are weaving/ knitting defects, yarn defects, finishing/ dyeing defects, printing defects, skewing and bowing, fabric GSM, shrinkage, and colour.

Fabric Inspection: 4-Point System

4-point system is a fabric inspection system performed in accordance with ASTM D5430-93. It is the most widely used in the industry. In this system, defect/ demerit/ penalty points are assigned to fabric defects according to the severity. The fabric quality is evaluated by unit points/100 sq. yds. Normally fabric roll containing 40 points per 100 square yard are acceptable.

Points per 100 sq.yd.=(Total points in roll X 36 X 100 )/(Fabric length (yd.) X Fabric width (inch))

Read more about the 4-point fabric inspection system

Fabric Relaxation

Fabric relaxation is an essential operation prior to spreading and cutting the fabric for garment manufacturing. Without sufficient fabric relaxation, especially in knitted fabric and those containing spandex/ elastane, it is not possible to obtain the dimensional stability of the final products. Fabric relaxation is characterized by the shrinkage of the fabric. Fabric relaxation can be done by different methods, namely, bale relaxation, compressive relaxation, heat set relaxation and sponging relaxation.


The term fatigue refers to an overall feeling of tiredness or lack of energy. Since operations in the apparel-manufacturing unit are characterised by repetitive actions and prolonged task performance, fatigue is a common phenomenon. Fatigue in workers could be posture and work-induced fatigue, visual fatigue, and fatigue and irritation due to noise. Fatigue has a major impact on product quality and results in productivity losses. When people become fatigued, they usually have trouble in maintaining task performance at an adequate level. Rest breaks during the working day prevent the accumulation of excessive fatigue.

Feed System

Feed system is the mechanism by which a fabric is moved on the feeding zone of the sewing machine by involving the presser foot, throat plate, feed dog, and needle. Sewing machine feed system are such that irrespective of operator skill or seam type, the operation is carried out smoothly and in good quality. The simplest sewing machine feed system, and still the commonest, is known as the drop feed. The other feed types are needle feed, unison feed, differential feed, variable top and bottom feed, variable top and bottom differential feed, needle feel and alternating top feed, X-feed. The terms feed system, feed types, and feed mechanisms are used interchangeably in the apparel industry.

Final Inspection

Final inspection is the inspection procedure carried out of finished garments before packing. In a garment factory, normally, the final garment inspection is carried out after pressing of the garments. The garments are inspected for their performance requirements, overall appearance, and sizing and fit. The final inspection should mandatorily be of superior quality. The final inspection should be carried out in a well-lit and large measuring table.

Final Statistical Audit

Final statistical audit is conducted by the quality team once the garments are packed in the cartons. Sample cartons for inspection are randomly selected - only from boxes that are complete. Samples from the finished seal boxes are randomly obtained as well.
The final statistical audits are done following AQL 4.0. The auditor carries out the inspection in a routined fashion so that no operation is overlooked. The approved pre-production sample, and approved top of production sample is reviewed and the consistency with the inspection sample is checked. Garment presentation, colour shade, measurements, fit and balance, and workmanship and visual defects are checked, marked and recorded in the final audit report.

Finished Goods Warehouse

The activities associated with the finished goods (FG) warehouse/ department is the last in the apparel-manufacturing unit's VSM process. The garments in the warehouse are packed in cartons/ boxes and are waiting to be shipped on specific dates listed on the sales order or as and when called for by the customer. The FG warehouse usually is a restricted area and has limited accessibility to only related employees. It works to ensure on time delivery of shipment and takes care of all the shipment related documentation. The records maintained in a FG warehouse are sectionalised as 'shipped garments', 'on call or waiting garments' and 'stock sell garments'.

Flat Sketch

A flat sketch is the technical representation of a garment illustrating the design requirements to the manufacturer. It is neatly sketched with basic solid lines such that visual guidelines can be clearly followed. Typically, a solid line on a flat sketch represents a seam line and a dashed line represents stitching. Since a flat sketch forms an essential part of the techpack, some of the key points to consider while making it are: Include all details and don't omit any parts of the sketch. Include views of both front and back. If needed, add sketches to show small parts or inside of the garment.


A floater or a jumper is a sewing operator who generally can perform all operations but at much lower efficiency than the dedicated operators. They are allocated to balance the line under unforeseen circumstances such as operator absenteeism, operators performing below standard, sickness, or any other emergencies. Jumpers may be categorised depending on the number of operations known or the number of machines known to use.


FOB is an important term that stands for 'Free on Board'. It indicates that the buyer is liable for goods once shipped by the seller (apparel manufacturer). The buyer is at risk and takes ownership of any damage that may occur during shipping. FOB is suitable for maritime and inland waterway transport. Since, in export the garments are transported by sea under normal circumstances, pricing of garments is mostly quoted on FOB.


Fusing is a process for attaching interlinings by bonding it to the outer fabric by means of a thermoplastic resin. Interlinings provide support, reinforcement, and control to the garment areas such as collars, cuffs, waistbands, hems, facings, the fronts of jackets and coats, etc. It takes place when a suitable temperature and pressure are applied over a period of time. The different methods of fusing are -reverse fusing -sandwich fusing -double fusing -block fusing. The equipment used for fusing can be a specialised fusing press, hand irons, or steam presses.

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Gantt chart

Gantt chart is a visual view of tasks scheduled over time. It is widely used in planning, scheduling, and project management. In the apparel industry, a product development (PD) calendar can be developed using a Gantt chart format. Gantt charts are also used by the production planning and control department to plan and control the sequence of operations, to show machine loading, thereby identifying idle time, and to plan operators' deployment on various machines, or materials procurement and delivery needs. These charts are advantageous are they offer management an easily readable and visual demonstration of a work plan and the position regarding implementation at a certain date.

Garment accessories

Accessories of a garment are its components other than the main fabric. These could be an essential part of the construction of the garment, act as trimmings/fastenings, or enhance the aesthetics of the garment. Garment accessories categorised as:
. Basic accessories (essential part): Buttons, Zippers, Linings, Interlinings, Velcro, Elastic, Rivets, Labels, Thread . Decorative accessories (aesthetics): Bias tape, Elastic tape, Buttonhole tape, Seaming tape, Welted tape, Ribbed tape, Stamped tape, Cords, Embroidery, Lace, Piping, Ribbons, Fringes, Tassels, Ruffles . Finishing accessories (packaging): Hang tag, Price tag, Polybag, Paper, Carton, Tape

Garment Defects

A garment defect is a shortcoming that is beyond the defined specifications or construction requirements. A defect might be related to specifications (variation of measurement), raw material quality (fabric and trims used in the garment), shade variation, stitching defects, construction defects or performance defects.

Garment dyeing

Garment dyeing is the process of colouration of sewn or knitted garments cut and sewed from grey/ pre-treated fabric. Garment dyeing may benefit an apparel manufacturer as it reduces the lead time required and can give quick response to the market demand. It also reduces wastage of dyed fabric and helps improve inventory control. Paddle machines and rotary drums are most commonly used machines for garment dyeing. Garment dyeing is carried out for hosiery, socks, sportwear, shirts, T-shirts, trousers, bath robes, bath-mats, throw rugs.


GRN stands for Goods Receipt Note. GRN is a unique number that is allotted to the received goods to record the delivery of items from suppliers. The record represents the confirmation of receipt of goods to issue payment. A GRN is created and approved against an issued purchase order after physical verification of goods in terms of quantity, quality, and pricing with respect to the raised PO. On approval, GRN stickers are printed and pasted on the raw materials required by the apparel manufacturer. A GRN sticker usually has the following details:
Item code, Item name, Colour/ Size, PO No., Reference No., Lot No. GRN, Quantity, Batch No., Box No./ Roll No. GRN stickers may be colour coded based on the month when the goods are received.


A hem is the finished edge of a garment, sewn so that the fabric has a clean end and prevents unravelling of thread. The operation is known as hemming. Hemming is done by folding the edge and then stitching. This action is usually assisted by a hemming folder. The main types of hems are double fold hem, narrow rolled hem, bias tape hem, blind hem, zig zag or overlocked hem. For a perfectly flat hemmed, for example in a pair of cuffed pants, a hemming tape is used. Hemming operation is usually carried out for: . Sleeves and bottom edge of a t-shirt . Pocket mouth . Bottom edge of pants, skirts, etc.

Human resource management (HRM)

Human resource management (HRM) is the organizational function that manages activities related to people. The strategic approach to the effective management of people include employing people, training them, compensating them, developing policies relating to them, and developing strategies to retain them. HRM plays a very important role in the apparel industry as it is a labour-intensive industry, and they contribute largely to the productivity improvement and development. The HRM team proactively participates in addressing the quality and productivity issues in various departments.

Incentive plan

Incentives are payments or concessions given to the workforce to motivate them to increase their output. A well-designed and fair incentive plan is a driving force for operators to work more consistently by getting rid of ineffective time, and the gaps between their productive movements. The most common form is a straight piecework system, where the operator's pay is based entirely on what the operator produces. The incentive plan is set up by the IE.

Read one case study on the incentive plan

Inline inspection

Inline inspection is the process of checking the pieces (semi-stitched garment) after operators carry out the respective operation. A quality inspector moves in the line and inspects a pre-determined number of pieces from the finished work of operators at random. Inline inspection can be carried out in different ways such as inspection at checkpoints in the line, roving quality checking, implementing traffic light system, inspection by buyer QA representative. 

Inline inspection is done with the purpose of identifying any problems at the source and developing and implementing corrective action plans based on inspection findings. This assures the quality of the entire production batch. Inline inspection also helps supervisor to find the operator making defects. Line supervisor can explain the operator the correct way of doing the job to avoid stitching defect generation. If the defects occurring due to machine problem, that can be resolved early.

Intrinsic balance

Line balancing by allocation of operators to operations by finding the closest match between operator performance required and operator performance available is called intrinsic balance. An intrinsic line balance is advantageous in terms of workforce management, WIP management, lower warming up loss, and less output loss due to lesser movement of operators. However, the operator utilisation is lesser as compared to dynamic balance.


Inventory includes all the stock held by the manufacturing unit, ranging from raw materials to the finished garments. In other words, inventory can be described as the units assets that are intended for sale, or are in the process of being produced for sale, or are to be used in producing goods. This stock needs to be maintained for - an uninterrupted operation, to optimise the sourcing cost, and to minimise the risk of stock out. Inventory needs to be replenished, but should be in an optimum quantity.

Inventory carrying cost

Inventory Carrying Cost (ICC) is the cost a company incurs over a certain period of time, to hold and store its inventory. ICC is expressed as the percentage of the total value of inventory. It can be given as: ICC=(Inventory holding sum)/(Total value of inventory) X 100 The inventory holding sum is the addition of the components of ICC - cost of capital, storage and warehouse space, obsolescence and shrinkage, insurance, material handling, and taxes. Slow-moving items increase the inventory cost, while just-in-time items have a low ICC. To keep the ICC the least, a merchandiser has to successfully order to fulfil demand while keeping the investment low.

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Just-in-Time (JIT) is a "pull" concept or a management philosophy to control the inventory. The raw materials orders from suppliers are directly aligned with production schedules i.e. only when it is needed, and in the desired quantities. The stock is replenished in very short cycles as small and frequent orders to ensure that an acceptable inventor fill rate and a low inventory level is maintained. The JIT manufacturing is referred to as lean manufacturing, and the JIT delivery concept accommodates fast fashion.


A jig or a stitching jig is a type of a work aid where accurate stitching lines are required. It is commonly used for attaching labels, stitching collars, cuffs, pockets. A jig consists of an upper plate and a lower plate. The fabric is held between these two plates. The inside surface of the plates is covered with a strip of non-slip material like emery sheet, to have a firm grip of the fabric. As the jig moves along the X-Y direction, relative to the guide on the stitching machine, stitch line is formed where there is a slot on the jig. Sewing automats like pattern sewer, back pocket attaching machine, top stitching of fly in trouser, etc.


Kanban is a visual job order card used to achieve JIT. It is is a method of regulating the flow of goods both within the factory and with outside suppliers and customers. The card indicate when more goods are needed and at what time for replenishment, and thus eliminates waste from inventory and overproduction, and minimises line downtime. In the apparel manufacturing unit, examples of use of Kanban cards used are 'cut to sew' Kanban (includes cutting, sewing, trim preparation) and 'defect' Kanban.

Knitted Fabric

Textile structure resulting from inter-looping of yarns or inter-meshing of loops is a knitted fabric. Knitted fabrics are subdivided into warp and weft knitted fabrics. Knitted fabrics usually possess high elasticity due to their loop structure, high degree of wrinkle resistance, good drape, a high degree of comfort, and a porous nature.

Key performance Indicator (KPI)

KPI stands for Key Performance Indicators. KPIs are a set of data that reflect the performance of the department, while help in assessing the efficiency, capability and effectiveness of various manufacturing aspects. Examples of KPIs in the apparel-manufacturing unit are: Factory -Factory Efficiency, Capacity Utilisation, Production Cost Efficiency, Quality Capability, Average Style Change-Over Time, Cut to Ship Ratio, Order to Ship Ratio, On Time Delivery Rate, Right First Time (RFT), Downtime Percentage

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Lab dip

Lab dip is a specimen of dyed fabric or yarns prepared for colour approval. Lap dip is an important and essential process in fabric development for both apparel and fabric manufacturing business. Prior to bulk fabric dyeing lab dip approval is taken from the buyer. Apparel brands evaluate fabric colour and shade visually using a lightbox and/or digitally using the spectrophotometer.

Labour cost per minute

Labour cost per minute is a significant parameter to determine the garment cost. It is the cost of direct labour of the processes in unit time. In garment factories the most common method for calculating cost is working minute cost. Labour cost per minute=(Total wages of labour X Garment SAM)/(Total available working minutes X No. of labour)

Lay planning

Lay planning is another term for 'cut order planning'. Apparel manufacturers make use of computer aided design (CAD) to facilitate the process. The lay plan needs to be optimised in an economical way to minimise fabric wastage.


Laying is the process of superposing layers of fabric on a table prior to cutting. Each layer of the fabric is laid in an unrestrained state, up to the length of the marker. The lay height is maintained depending on the cutting machine to be used and the fabric thickness. Laying can be done either to form a straight lay or a stepped lay. The direction of fabric laying from right to left, or right to right, or in a zigzag manner.

Lead time

Lead-time is the period between the confirmation of an order to the manufacturer and the dispatch of the order to the buyer. The period comprises waiting time before or after actual manufacturing and throughput time. The different lead-time referred to in an apparel-manufacturing unit are - customer lead time ( time between order confirmation and order fulfilment), material lead time (time order placement with a supplier and receiving in-house), production lead time (time taken for manufacturing the garment), delivery lead time (time between order receipt and merchandise being shipped out of the factory)

Lean manufacturing

Lean manufacturing is a way of manufacturing with the goals to reduce waste in human effort and inventory, reaching the market on time, and managing manufacturing stocks that are highly responsive to customer demand while producing quality products in the most efficient and in economical manner without waste. The types of wastes are waste from overproduction, waste of waiting time, transportation waste, inventory waste, processing waste, waste of motion, and waste from product defects. Some of the tools used for lean manufacturing are 5S, Kanban, Kaizen, Jidoka, Poka-Yoke, Andon, Just-in-time, Gemba.

Learning curve

A learning curve is the representation of an operator's performance growth against the time required or number of repetitions to achieve the regular target efficiency. When an operator learns a new operation for a new style, one cannot achieve the required speed of production, thus lowering the output. In the initial days of production of the new style, the target output is thus deliberately kept low and gradually increased based on operators learning curve. The adoption of accelerated training methods may considerably shorten the time/ no. of repetitions needed for achieving the target.


A line is defined as a group of operators under the control of one production supervisor. In the sewing line, a number of sewing machines (including different types of sewing machines and non-sewing equipment) are placed in a line according to the process sequence requirement. Sewing lines have different arrangement of the workstations. Garment bundles are loaded at one end of the line and moved from one workstation to another, and finally stitched garments come out from the line. There are multiple sewing lines in an apparel manufacturing unit.

Line balancing

Line balancing is the technique of maintaining the same level of inventory at each operation at any point of time to meet the production target and to produce garments of acceptable quality. The work-study officer does line balancing by doing the product analysis, process analysis, and capacity analysis, and then allocating the available operators to the operations. The line balancing needs to be done such that target is fulfilled, priorities of operations are met, operators and machines are properly utilised, and the idle tie for operators is minimised. A well balanced line has a smooth workflow, no bottlenecks are created, and the operators are able to work at peak performance throughout the day.

Line efficiency

Line efficiency is the efficiency measurement for the sewing line. It is also termed as line utilisation. Line efficiency is expressed as percentage and given as: Line Efficiency=(Total minutes produced)/(Total attended minutes) X 100 Where, Total minutes produced = Production (line output) X SAM of garment Total attended minutes = No. of operators X Time in working hours X 60

Line planning

Line planning is scheduling and allocating of orders to production lines according to product requirements and due dates of production completion. Based on available time and production capacity of a line, a planner may have to plan for multiple lines for an order. A planner decides on which date a style to be loaded and how many lines to consider so that the style meets the production completion date. An assessment needs to be done whether a style can be loaded on to a particular line. Based on the timeline, the planner needs to decide whether to allocate one line or more than one line to the order.

Loading production

Loading production refers to allocating the quantity of work to the sewing lines to manufacture the garments. The production planner carefully plans which garment style and the quantity to be loaded in the production line.

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Machine breakdown

Machine breakdown is the situation where in a machinery stops working or needs to be stopped due to an internal malfunction or a broken part(s), requiring its repair or replacement. Machine breakdown can cause delays in the production system.

Maintenance /machine maintenance

Machinery maintenance involves regular servicing of equipment, routine checks, repair work, and replacement of worn or non-functional parts. The role of maintenance is to reduce the equipment downtime, breakdowns and to increase the productivity and quality. The types of maintenances are- Planned- Preventive maintenance, Routine/Scheduled maintenance, Predictive maintenance, Condition monitoring maintenance, Design-out maintenance, Reliability centred maintenance Un-planned- Emergency/reactive or break down maintenance Apart from machine maintenance, the maintenance department in a manufacturing unit also looks after the electrical and civil maintenance.


A marker is an illustration of accurate and precise planning of patterns for a particular style of garment and the sizes to be cut from a single spread on a marker paper. Markers are generally defined by two parameters, namely, the relation to the relative symmetry of the garment, and mode. Once markers of each style are finalized, the yield of fabric needed for production can be calculated and accordingly order the fabric.

Marker efficiency

Marker efficiency is the percentage of the fabric area used by the marker of the total fabric area. Marker Efficiency=(Area of marker used for garment pattern)/(Total area of marker) It depends on how closely the patterns are arranged in the marker. An efficiency around 80%-85% is considered good and varies based on the pattern shapes, constraints on pattern placements and fabric nature. It is generally determined for each marker plan.

Marker planning

Marker planning is a creative, intuitive and conceptualising process to place the garment patterns in a paper to meet the technical requirements as well to minimise wastage of fabric. The main purpose is to produce a shortest marker by considering all the practical and technical constraints such as fabric characteristics, design requirement in the finished garment, cutting quality, and production planning. Marker planning methods are - manual marker planning and computerised marker planning. In a computerised marker planning, the planner inputs the details of fabric width, the pattern pieces to be utilised, and product sizes to be included in the marker and the constraints to be considered including any matching of checks. Then the system generates a marker plan automatically or interactively.

Marker types

The type of markers is decided based on garment quantity, size and colour ratio, time available to lay and cut, fabric type, budget. The most common types of markers used in apparel manufacturing are sectioned markers and continuous markers. Sectioned markers comprise all of the patterns of a particular garment size and style. Continuous markers comprise patterns of all garment sizes for a particular garment style. These markers normally have higher marker efficiency due to its flexibility in grouping and manipulating larger as well as smaller pattern pieces. Other marker types are half marker, scrambled marker, marker for folded lay, marker for blocked lay, one-way marker.

Material handling system

A right material handling system across the factory departments reduces material transportation time, waiting time at work and delays. The means used for transporting work (like fabrics, cuttings, bundles, finished garments and general items) from one place to another, storing materials and protecting material from damage, are called material handling system. It may be an equipment, device or procedures. There are different type materials handling systems based on process requirement. Trolleys, fabric bags, racks, centre table, plastic bins, overhead hangers, etc. are examples of material handling system in the garment industry.


Measurement denotes the size of the garment between defined points in a garment. The measurement is the key factor for a proper fit of the garment. Measurement details, and the point of measurement of garment are included in the techpack. For example, the measurement of a polo t-shirt is done at full chest, front length, sleeve length, full waist, sleeve opening, armhole.

Merchandise management

Merchandise management is the process by which a merchandiser attempts to offer the right quantity of the right merchandise in the right place at the right time and meet the company's financial goals. The supply is matched with the demand by looking after performance objectives for sales, inventory and other finance-related processes. There are several merchandising planning software solutions commercially available.


A merchandiser is personnel with planning capability, decision making skills, and strong communication skills, who synchronises with the design team to successfully exhibit the product. The function of merchandising in a manufacturing unit involves the conceptualisation, development, costing, procurement of raw materials, production scheduling, sample approvals, production control, bottleneck identifications, communicator with buyer, and dispatch of product to buyers.

Method study

As per Gilbreth, method study is the scientific way of eliminating waste generated from unnecessary motions, it is basically conducted to assess and measure the improvement potential with some tools and techniques. Method Study is the systematic recording and assessing the way of doing a task to measure the improvement potential, and thus reduce the work content of a job or operation. In a factory, method study is carried out by trained industrial engineer (work study officer). The purpose of conduction method study is improving working method and reducing operation cycle time. Method study involves a number of tools and techniques such as - process chart, multiple activity chart, flow diagram, two-handed process chart, micro motion study and SIMO chart. To carry out the method study, the steps are: Record every detail about the job. Examine all the details Consider alternatives for improvement and develop the most suitable Define the jobs Install new method by making sure it is understood Maintain the new method by continually checking that it is still being performed correctly

Modular system

A modular production system works on the principle of pull-type system. In this system, a work team generally has a group of operators having corresponding skills who are devoted to achieve the set of performance goals. The operators work on standing or sitting stations and rotate to different machines as they work, becoming familiar with multiple steps in producing the garment. Productivity is high in this production system since the operator handles the garment only once for several operations, instead of handling it for every operation.


MOQ stands for 'Minimum Order Quantity'. It represents the minimum quantity of raw materials that the raw material suppliers could supply to the apparel manufacturer. MOQ plays an important role in sourcing of fabrics and other accessories as it determines the cost-effectiveness of the order. If the ordered quantity of fabric is less than the determined MOQ, then the supplier could claim higher price as compared to regular charges. MOQ is also applied to the apparel buyers when they source garments from the supplier.

Motion study

Motion study - defined by Gilbreth, the real founder of motion study as "the science of eliminating wastefulness resulting from ill-directed and in efficient motions". The aim of motion study is to find the scheme of least wastage of labour. The work study officer carefully studies the movement of the operator's body and hand, to enhance work performance, and reduce ergonomic stresses. Standard target time is determined by time and motion study.

Multiple activity chart

Multiple activity charts are the process charts using a time scale. It is also termed as 'man-machine' chart. In the apparel manufacturing unit, a number of workers work in a group or an individual operator handles two or more machine. These charts represent the inter-relation of the workers activities on a common time scale. The activities have to be properly coordinated to optimise work distribution and minimise idle time. An analysis of the MAC ultimately assists in developing an improved method to accomplish a task and to have an effective labour lost control. Go to Top


Needle is the central feature of the sewing machine that penetrates in the fabric to create a passage for the sewing thread to pass. It carries the needle thread through the material and form a loop which can be picked up by the hook or looper mechanism. The parts of a needle are butt, shank, shoulder, blade, groves, eye, point, tip.

Non-Productive Time

Non-productive time is the time spent by an operator in doing activities other than producing a garment. Non-productive time reflects how much standard time is lost due to various reasons such as defect corrections, rework, over production, absence of operator, line setting, machine breakdown, improper balancing, raw material unavailability, change of feeding plan, workers' fatigue, etc. Of these, the major 4 identified are waiting for work, cut components not available, rework, and line setting. A supervisor monitors NPT and the lost time in man minutes is recorded in a format.
Read the reason why garment factories should measure NPT time.

Off-Standard and On-Standard Time

Standard time is the time allowed to an operator to carry out the specified task under the specified condition and defined level of performance.
Off-standard time: The time to which SMVs are not allocated. It is calculated as a percentage of operator attended time (utilisation) and reported in different categories such as machine breakdown, waiting for work, rework, re-training, unmeasured work.

On-standard time: The time spent by an operator in productive tasks (producing a garment). It is the difference between attended time and off-standard time, where attended time is the total time the operator is supposed to spend in working in the factory. This parameter is used in calculating operator performance. Tasks contributing to onstandard time accounts for the incentive payment to the operators.

On-Time-In-Full (OTIF)

OTIF - abbreviation for 'On-time, InFull'. OTIF is a KPI to measure the extent to which shipments are delivered to their destination according to both the quantity and schedule specified on the order by the buyer. It is expressed as percentage. An extension of OTIF is on-time, in-full and error-free. Equation: OTIF = Cases matching the criteria / Total number of cases Criteria: On Time= Deivery Time - Confirmed delivery time In Full= Deivered amount - Confirmed amount

Open marker

Open marker is a marker type where in the pattern pieces are full (i.e. not halved). This type of marker is prepared for asymmetric garments. Better spreading and cutting quality may be obtained by keeping the garment panels close to each other along the marker length. Under this marker type, the fabric is spread in all face up mode in open condition.


Tasks or activities involved in producing a garment are called operations. Operations could be sewing and non-sewing operations, or machining and non-machining. To produce a garment, number of such operations are involved, and each are connected to the preceding and succeeding operation. The work process contains separate operations depending on equipment available, equipment utilisation, workers skills, and time available, such that quality and efficiency are ensured. Each separate sewing operation is characterised by a start and stop action (with or without back tack and except for a burst in a single operation).

Operation Breakdown

An operation breakdown is a sequential list of all operations involved in assembling a garment, component, or style. It represents the planned steps in sewing and the responsibilities of different operators to carry out specific tasks. With the details obtained from an operation breakdown, one could understand the following: >Estimate the difficulties in doing a critical operation >Plan a layout and allocate operators conveniently >Calculate SMV to set target >Machine, additional guides, folder, and attachment requirements.

Operation Bulletin

An operation bulletin is a summary document that includes the operation breakdown and more details. These are - total number of components in the garment, job code, machinery, work-aids, calculated number vs actual number of machines, work content of each operation, daily working hours, target output per day or per hour, SMV (Sewing and Non-sewing), SMV@100% efficiency, SMV @target efficiency, pieces per machine, remarks. An OB helps to set a production line with the correct number of machines and manpower. It is prepared by Industrial Engineering department. To prepare and OB, the industrial engineer has to study the product and operations carefully.

Operator grading

Operator grading refers to categorising operators based on their skills, expertise, and experience. This categorisation aids in processes such as operator allocation, deciding wages, and to some extent motivation. Generally, operators are graded as unskilled, semi-skilled, skilled and highly skilled operators. Sometimes they are graded as A, B, or C. For operator grading, the steps followed are: > Grading operations based on criticality, skill requirement, machine, and garment area > Creating operator grading criteria based on grade and number of operations that can be performed > Study the operator's skill for the respective operations.

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Packing List

A packing list is a document belonging to the finishing/ shipment department. It is one of the mandatory documents for export of goods. The shipper or forwarding agent uses the packing list to determine the total shipment weight, volume and item wise list of the materials shipped to ascertain shipment of the right cargo. The customs broker or forwarder generally requires the packing list of a consignment in order to book the shipping space and to obtain the S/O and / or to prepare the shipping note.

Pareto Chart

A Pareto chart is a bar diagram that is used to map the frequency of occurrence of defects/ problems. The graph is created with the parameters (defects) on the x-axis and the frequency of occurrence on the y-axis. The bars are arranged as the longest ones on the left and the shortest to the right, thus depicting which defect is more significant. Application of Pareto chart helps solving those problems on priority basis.

Pattern Grading

Pattern grading is a drafting process of enlarging or decreasing the pattern dimensions from the master pattern (base size or sample size pattern) to obtain sizes as per the specification sheet, without altering the style sense of the original model. Pattern grading can be done manually or by using computerized pattern making software. The computerised pattern grading process could improve the capacity to make several garment pattern sets in a given period of time. Once the fit is approved, the patterns are produced in a range of different sizes according to a set of grade rules derived from a size chart.

Product Development Calendar

Product Development is the process of setting up collections for the season by carrying out market trend research,conceptualizing and developing a line of products using the technical design process, making proto-samples of the styles with standards, identify sourcing requirements and suppliers involved, costing, and plan the manufacturing. The PD Calendar is a chart that represents these activities in a planned and scheduled manner, roles and responsibilities of the individuals initiating and achieving each task to accomplish them on time.

The PD calendar aids in coordinating, monitoring, controlling, disciplining individuals for efficient task completion. The timeline and activities in the PD calendar may vary from company to company depending on factors such as the product type, the company's business practice.

Piece Rate

Piece rate is a wage determination system. Piece rate pay occurs when workers are paid by the unit performed i.e. the total number of whole garments manufactured. Individual piece rate system is beneficial as the operators will do with full involvement. To finish more pieces, to earn more money. The piece-rate amount can be justified by using capacity study and operation cycle time. Piece-rate could be individual (for individual operators to produce a single piece of clothing, disregarding quality) or group piece-rate (for team collectively producing a single piece of clothing that meets quality standards and is saleable). Read more - Piece rate calculation method using garment SAM How to justify operator piece rate?

Pilot Run

Pilot refers to manufacturing a set number of pieces of all sizes of the garment style to observe the bulk production metrics the garment. It is carried out after the pre-production (PP) sample is approved, following the comments mentioned in PP sample approval report. Pieces produced in the pilot are carefully monitored for quality, and if any challenge that may arise in the bulk production. Pilot run should be done in the production line, and not in the sampling line.

Checkpoints after pilot run: ? Pattern and fit accuracy ? Review overall specifications of pilot run sample with approved sample ? Risk analysis of critical operation ? Check final wash appearance, shade, and hand feel where applicable

Pitch Time

Pitch time is the theoretical operation time that an operator should take in a planned balanced line. It is used for theoretically allocating work force and machine. The IE/ work study officer club operations for a single operator or split among more operators to match every operation timing with the pitch time. A better balancing efficiency results if the deviation between operation time and pitch time is low. It is a ratio of total SAM of garment and number of operations to be set for the style.
Basic Pitch time=(SAM value of a garment)/(No.of operator required to meet the target)

Pitch Diagram

A graphical presentation of individual operation's time (SAM) and pitch time on a same chart is called pitch diagram. The standard minutes for each operation are plotted on the graph with operation names on the X-axis and the time on the Y-axis. This diagram aids in balancing an assembly line.

Plant Layout

Plant layout refers to the placement of the facilities, departments, workstations, and equipment in the plant area, and directs the flow of materials. The spatial arrangement and configuration has a significant impact upon the manufacturing cost, WIP, lead-time, quality, etc. The layout should be such that manufacturing cost is minimised, material flow is continuous without overlap, material handling and work transfer is minimised, and future expansion plans may be feasible.


Plotting refers to printing a natural-size patterns and markers made in any CAD system. Productivity in cutting section increases compared to conventional marker planning system primarily due to the elimination of manually drawing around the patterns, which is replaced by the plotter.

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Quality Assurance

Quality assurance can be defined as "part of quality management focused on providing confidence that quality requirements will be fulfilled." The main purpose of quality assurance is to verify that quality control is being maintained. It includes all the planned and systematic activities implemented within the quality system that can be demonstrated to provide confidence that a product or service will fulfil requirements for quality. It serves those who are not directly responsible for conducting operations but who have a need to know such as plant, functional, or senior management; corporate staffs; regulatory bodies; customers; and the general public. Quality assurance may be provided through warranties, use of a mark or seal, through audits, etc.

Quality Control

Quality control refers to the process of maintaining given standards of the product such that they meet the intended requirements and achieve customer satisfaction. The primary purpose of quality control is to maintain control by evaluating the performance during operations, comparing it to the goal, and acting on the difference. A quality control checklist is used in the production floor to assess the product quality by being unbiased. Quality control in the apparel-manufacturing unit involves the following:
. Pre-production quality control/ material quality control (fabric, trims and accessories) . Quality control during production (defects during spreading, cutting, sewing, pressing and finishing) . Final inspection (test for performance requirements, overall appearance, and sizing and fit)

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Roll Allocation

Roll allocation is the process of allocating fabric rolls for spreading to process an order, in such a way that the end-bits and wastage are minimised, thus ensuring higher yield from the fabric. Fabric rolls may have varying yardage which may lead to difference in fabric loss during spreading. Fabric rolls are allocated with the objective to minimise cost and handle roll length variation, fabric defects, fabric shade, shrinkage, width variation, and spreading costs. Roll allocation can be manual or automated. Automated roll allocation software allocates fabric rolls based on real-time data by analysing, creating, and re-adjusting the allocation to ensure substantial fabric saving.

Real-time Data Monitoring

Real-time data monitoring (RTDM) refers to capturing real time information - which is the right information at the right time for strategic decision making at many levels of the factory. The real-time data monitoring systems use RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) or Barcode technology for real-time information capturing. Information tracked via RFID readers (terminals) from the shop floor is processed through software and provides various real-time reports that help managing production. Through RTDM, example of some of the parameters usually monitored are shift efficiency, output, lost time, defective pieces.
Some of the real-time production tracking systems are listed in this blog post.


In the apparel-manufacturing sector, the 'rejection' term is used in couple of areas. It can be the rejection of submitted garment samples by the apparel buyer, it can be rejection of shipment after the final quality audit.
Another most common term is 'garment rejection'. At the final garment inspection stage, factory rejects garments that are beyond repair even by changing parts or due to severe defects in garments and trims/accessories attached to the garment. Factories keep record of garment rejection rate after shipment dispatch.
Read more about calculating garment rejection rate and controlling garment rejection in a garment factory.


Incorrect processing (sewing) of garments leads to rework. It is the activity of working on a finished operation/ garment for a second (or more) time due to producing a piece that does not meet the set specifications or requirements. Rework in the sewing line hampers the smooth process flow and leads to a low production rate, increased cost, and inferior product quality. Sewing rework is usually done after ripping the already sewn stitch and then re-working on it. Minimization of reworks is essential for quality and productivity improvement.


Standard allowed hour (SAH) is the time in hours required by a normal operator to complete one operation using a specified method. The concept of standard hours allowed is usually based on a reasonable estimate of hours required to produce a product (sometimes called an attainable standard). It is also referred to as standard hours earned.
The total planned SAH, till date achieved planned SAH, balance SAH are monitored on the production control board. Time represented in SAH form makes it easy to compare produced hours against available hours in a day (efficiency).

Samples (Garment Samples)

Samples are a representation of the garment made as per the specifications provided by the buyer to foresee the finished product appearance, fit, production capability when produced in bulk by the manufacturer. There are various types of samples at different stages that need to be approved for proceeding with the production process. Samples also aid to determine the fabric consumption, thread consumption, and the requirement for various accessories. The different kind of samples are: Proto, Fit, Size set, Salesman, Photo shoot, Development, Pre-production, Top of production, Counter, Shipment, Showroom, GPT (tests), Gold seal/sealed, Red tag, Digital Garment.
The manufacturer carries our improvement based on the approval and comments provided after assessing the samples at their respective stages. Read more about different types of garment samples.


A series of stitches that joins two or more plies of material. The edges of fabric, leather, or other material is joined by sewing (machine) in a variety of stitches, sometimes incorporating "bias binding," "cording," "piping," or other decorative trimming. The choice of seam type is determined by aesthetic standards, strength, durability, comfort in wear, convenience in assembly in relation to the machinery available, and cost. The 8 classes of seam are: superimposed seam, lapped seam, bound seam, decorative stitching, edge neatening, addition of separate items to the edge of garment part, one piece of material need be involved in constructing the seam.

Seam Pucker

Pucker is a wrinkled appearance along a seam in an otherwise smooth fabric. It is a corrugated sewing line whose finished sewed length is equal to or more than its original cut length. Seam pucker does not press out and negatively affects the aesthetics of the garment. Seam pucker may be caused due to differential fabric dimensional instability, extension or shrinkage in the sewing thread, structural jamming caused by the presser foot, feed dog or tensioning devices, mismatched patterns. Seam puckering is not to be confused with gathering - which is an intentional process for aesthetic purpose.


The process of making stitches or seam is called sewing. It is the craft of fastening or attaching objects using stitches made with a needle and thread. In the factories, sewing is the term used to describe the process of mass-producing a wide range of garment (or other goods) by created by joining different components together along the course of a structured process. The parameters involved in sewing are stitch, seam, and a sewing method.

Sewing Automats

Sewing automats are sophisticated and specialised sewing machines that carry out many complex functions in addition to sewing. These machines perform automatic sewing when the fabric is positioned and the machine is started, cut thread after sewing; dispose the sewn product for next operation. Automats are equipped with electric, electronic, and pneumatic control and sophisticated conveyor and clamp technology.
Examples are patch pocket setting, run stitching collars, long seam joining, making jetted pockets, serging trousers and sequential buttonholing. The operator needs to load the machine and may remove the garment part after sewing, but the machine controls the rest of the handling and all the sewing.
Check this article for sewing automations in jeans pocket attachment.

Sewing Exercise

Sewing exercises are given to new operators or for training operators to build their hard skills. Sewing exercises for hard skill development includes machine speed-control exercise, fabric exercise, stitching using attachments, and operation exercises. These exercises may be basic or to Operation specific skills using a series of purpose, designed fabric exercises. Example of some of the basic sewing exercise are- straight sewing, straight sewing with matching notches, straight sewing with back tack, right angle corner sewing, curve sewing. Learn more about sewing exercises.

Sewing Machine

Sewing machines are equipment that are power-driven to form seams and stitches with a thread to join garment components. The sewing machine has three distinct features that characterize the bed type, stitch type and feed type. Industrial sewing machines differentiate themselves from domestic sewing machines by varieties of bed and feed type, computerised functions, the possibility of integrating the work aids, and are designed for more heavy duty work-load and working for longer hours. Examples of Sewing Machines:
(1) Single/multi-needle industrial lockstitch sewing machine with or without trimmer, (2) Blind stitch machine, (3) Chain stitching machine, (4) Flatlock machine (cylinder bed and flatbed), (5) Overlock machine (3 threads/4 threads and 5 threads)

Shade Sorting

Shade is the colour term for hues with difference in its depth (darkness or lightness). Fabric rolls from mills may have a difference in shade due to various processing reasons. Generally, fabric spread for one lot of garments, requires more than one fabric roll to produce the required order quantity. This roll-to-roll shade variation may cause a garment to exhibit a shade variation between its different panels when assembled from components cut from these different fabric rolls. Thus, the fabric inspection departments sorts the fabrics (in to A, B, C, .) as per the shade and groups the similar roles. Fabric from rolls different groups in a spread are separated by means of interleaving paper, which aids in easy identification and separation of the plies for bundling.

Shade Variation

Shade variation is one kind of fabric flaws. Fabrics with shade variation are the fabrics of same colour but having different depth of colours called shade. Slight shade variation between fabric rolls is accepted but the shade variation between parts in the same garment is not an acceptable quality garment.
To avoid shade variation in garment , shade sorting is done prior to bulk fabric cutting and fabric layering is done carefully following the fabric roll shade band.


SKU is the short for 'Stock Keeping Unit'. It is an alphanumeric code assigned to inventory that allows the manufacturer and buyer to track their stock/ product in inventory, and measure product sales. Another term associated with SKU is the SKU planning frequency. This relates to how frequently a firm plans production as a reaction to changes in forecast or in order demand. The frequency can be monthly, biweekly, weekly, or daily.

Spec Sheet

A document that contains a sketch of the garment design and garment construction details is called specification sheet or spec sheet or simply garment spec. A designer makes the spec sheet to communicate design detailing and how the garment to be constructed. A spec sheet includes measurements of point of measures (POM) of the apparel product/design. These details (specs) should be stated with minimum words. The numbers of units of measurements with plus-or-minus tolerance limits with reference to the aesthetic features that control quality standard need to be clearly mentioned in a spec sheet. Sometimes spec sheet may be corrected after sample development and checking the sample fitting on live model or on the dress-form.
Read more on this topic.
(1) The method of preparing spec sheet by your own.
(2) Difference between a techpack and a sec sheet.


Splicing is the process of cutting fabric width wise and overlapping a certain length of the fabric in between the cut ends of a lay. Splicing may be required when fabric runs out from the roll and the next roll is to be continued, or to eliminate fabric defects during spreading. The length of overlapping is decided by referencing the splice mark. Splice marks represent the area which is adequate to allow a complete garment panel rather than sections only to be cut. These marks are placed along the control selvedge or on the edge of cutting table before spreading using reference of the marker.


Spotting is the process in garment finishing for removing unwanted dirt or spots or stains that may have appeared on a garment due to manufacturing process by use of certain chemical solutions. The process includes brushing the stains with the chemicals or uses a spray gun with solvent chemicals. The sources of the dirt, spots, and stains could be oil stains from sewing machine oil or cutting machine oil, watermark from washing, grease/ dust from material handling, dirt/ food oil from irresponsibility of workers, etc. Chemical solutions/ formulations such as PyratexLV, StreePRO, StreeTAN, Adco rust and stain remover are used. While spotting, the operator needs to take precautions such as wearing facemask, gloves while handling the chemicals.

Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)

Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is the documentation of the step-by-step procedure to carry out the routine tasks by the various personnel in the workforce. It can also be considered as a checklist for the user to refer to, to perform their task in a way to obtain desired result and maintain consistency. The benefits of following an SOP are: consistency in output, right quality first time, better concentration on work by referring to steps on their own, reduced process delays as wait for instruction is eliminated, minimised miscommunication, and work place safety is maintained. Some tasks where garment manufacturers set up SOP are for trainability test, fabric inspection, cutting, daily factory shutdown, production, etc.
Read a sample standard operating procedure for merchandising department.

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Takt Time

Takt time is the pulse of the production system i.e. the pace of production needed to meet the customer demand. It depends on monthly production demand, if the demand increases the Takt time decreases, if the demand decreases the Takt time increases. It links production activity to actual customer demand, and ensures all the production activity will be synchronized from first process to final assembly process. It also indicates to what extent the supplier is able to deliver the required amount of gears to the customer.

Tech Pack

Techpack is a document obtained from the buyer containing all required details for execution of the order/ manufacturing a garment. It covers all the details and technical information of a particular product style such as product style design, measurement details of garment, tolerences, type of fabric and construction, style code of a product, surface ornamentation details if any etc. It provides necessary information required for various departments. For example, for the cutting department documents such as marker planning, marker consumption etc. and for the sewing department, details such as construction details, measurements etc. are provided by the tech pack.

Throughput Time

Throughput time is the amount of time the product takes to pass through the manufacturing phase, thereby being converted from raw materials into finished goods. It includes the actual processing time and the time a style waits to be processed ahead of each operation. Throughput time may be given from when the fabric is cut to when the garment is shipped, or a lines throughput is considered as the time required "from loading first bundle to the line to get first garment out from the line".


Ticketing is the process of marking/ sticking tickets on patterns that are cut from the fabric lay. Number stickers or colour coded stickers are pasted on the cut components corresponding to the number of the fabric ply from which the component was cut. The components with the same sequence number/ colour code will be sewed to make one garment. It is an essential preparatory activity for sewing and bundling. This numbering helps to eliminate any confusion of the components and prevent the joining of components with different colour shades. Ticketing is done manually, using a special hand-held numbering device (a sticker gun) with small labels. If a bar code system is used to monitor the production process, the bar codes are fixed on the bundle tags. It is also called as ply numbering.

Traffic Light System

Traffic Light System (TLS) is a quality inspection tool to reduce defect generation at the source in the garment sewing line. The quality supervisor carries out random inspection to measure the operator's performance level in quality. A visual communication system is used to depict the performance - usually, red for poor; yellow for improvement; green for good. This colour system also motivates the operators to produce acceptable quality products.

Trim Card

A trim card has all approved garment trims and accessories on a sheet/card attached. In the production floor, supervisors follow the trim card as a guide for identifying the right trims. A copy of the trim card duly approved by the buyers for each style sent to the vendors forms a reference for them.

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Unit Production System

In a Unit Production System (UPS), the material flow is one single piece at a time and not in bundles. The operation starts at a staging area in the sewing section, the garment components are automatically transported with the help of a hanging carrier from one workstation to other according to a pre-determined sequence. Garment components are loaded in a planned way from the staging area; hence, minimum material handling is required to deliver garment panels accurately in the order and manner that they will be sewn. This considerably reduces the WIP and manufacturing throughput time as compared to other bundle system of production.

Utilisation of Operator

Operator utilisation is the measure of how well the operators working time is on-standard time and the off-standard time is kept to a minimum. It is the time spent on productive tasks out of total attended time. This performance measure is usually done for a line to assess the supervisor's capability of managing the line.
Utilisation=(On standard time )/(Attended time) X 100

Value Stream Mapping

VSM- Value stream mapping is one of the important tools of lean production. This tool is used to map the current state, analyse it, and design a future state for a series of events involving flow of material and information as a product makes its way through the value stream. The ultimate goal of VSM is to identify all types of waste in the value stream and to take steps to try and eliminate these. A visual representation with the use of symbols of every process in material and information flow is carefully drawn. Read more on VSM .


In the apparel supply chain, apparel buyers and buying houses call their garment suppliers as vendor. Vendors are referred to the suppliers. For garment manufacturers, fabric mills and trim suppliers are their vendors. The term 'vendor' is commonly used in vendor management, vendor selection criteria, buyer-vendor relationship. In accounting, vendors are termed as 'Party'.

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Warp and Weft

Warp and weft are the technical names of the yarns in a fabric. Woven fabrics are made of two sets of yarns - warp yarns and weft yarns. The yarn lies parallel to the fabric edge (selvage) is called the warp and the yarn lies perpendicular to the fabric edges is called weft yarns. During fabric formation, first warp yarns are drawn from a warper beam and the loom shed is formed. The weft yarns are interlaced by passing it through warp yarns shed from one edge to another one by one.

Weave & Woven Fabric

Weaving is a process of making fabrics thorugh interlacement of two sets of yarns - warp and weft yarns. The fabric thus formed is called woven fabric. The interlacement of warp and weft can be done in many different patterns - which are called as weave patterns. The common weave pattern are plain weave, matt weave, twill weave, satin weave, baseket weave, jacquard patterns etc.
Read the different types of weaves in woven fabrics with images.

WIP (Work in Progress)

Work in progress (WIP) refers to the pieces of semi-finished items which are transported from one workstation to the other, waiting to be worked upon for its completion. It can be measured as the time the product is under work in progress stage as well. A reasonable level of WIP should be maintained. Higher levels of WIP add to production costs, and lead to longer lead times. A very low WIP will not give the supervisor sufficient time to react to a breakdown. WIP can be managed by production planning, trims control, production build-up, line balancing, cut-flow control.
Read more about WIP report making and WIP report template in this article .

Work Aids

Work aids are additional tools/ devices provided to the workstation or machines to relieve the operator of some of the handling associated with sewing operations. They may be built into machines, added to them afterwards, attached alongside or made use of in resourceful ways as required. Work aids improve productivity, improve, or maintain quality standards, reduce operator training time, and minimise fatigue for the operator. Examples of commonly used work aids include tools for guiding or folding materials, for trimming threads and other components from garments, and for stacking the work after sewing.

Work Content

Work content, as per ILO is the amount of work "contained in" a given product or a process measured in "work-hours" or "machine hours". The basic work content is the irreducible minimum time theoretically required to produce one unit of output. The work content of a garment could increase due to design complexities, improper utilisation of materials, inefficient methods of manufacture or operation. According to the work content of a style, daily production target can be estimated, operator requirements can be calculated, and can aid to balance the line.

Work Study

Work-study is the systematic examination of the methods of carrying on activities, analysing them, and proposing improvements and setting standards. It aims at examining the way an activity is being carried out, simplifying or modifying the method of operation to reduce unnecessary or excess work, or the wasteful use of resources, and setting up a time standard for performing that activity. Through work-study, it is a function of the work-study officer to provide management with information to help the efficient and productive running of the factory.


Workstations are the set-up for carrying out operations/ tasks in the production of a garment. A sewing line generally contains sewing workstation, inline inspection table, end-line quality checking workstation, and finishing and packing workstation. Elements of standard workstations are -
Sewing workstation: Sewing machine, Standard work sheet, Machine service card/ tag, thread holder, thread trimmer, dust-pan and duster, dustbin, Vacuum, Cycle time and SAM card, Technical specification sheet
Quality checking workstation: Inline defect analysis report, Measurement sheet with allowances and directions for measurement, Standard worksheet, Trim card, Style and technical comments sheet, Sample garment, Defect sticker, Quality audit report, Good garment bin, defective garment bin, reject garment bin
Packing workstation: Packing trim card, Master trim card sample, Garment sample, Standard work sheet, Price ticket attaching gun, Tape board (to remove loose threads), Carton, Hourly production review report

Workstation Layout

Workstation layout refers to the arrangement of the elements on and around a workstation in the sewing line. The design of the workstation layout varies widely from one operation to another depending on the quantity of work, number of components, and type of machine to handle during operation. Some of the characteristics of a good workstation are:
All components should be placed within the reach of the operator Work should be presented in a correct way for easy unbundling and quick pick up Operators must have enough space on the table to handle the garment parts Enough space in between two machine for operator movement. Use jig and folders where required Define a space for every element on the workstation Provide height adjustable chair.

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Yamazumi Chart

Yamazumi chart is a bar chart that shows the average cycle time (on Y-axis) for each operation (on X-axis) performed by the operators in an assembly line. It is a visual tool used within lean manufacturing to aid visualizing the various work elements within a process. The representation of the chart is in the form of stacked up coloured bars, each denoting a specific value. For example, time spent in non-value added activities (NVA), necessary non-value added activities (NNVA), and value added activities (VA) during an operation can be recorded in different colours, for better analysis, motivation, as a competition booster among teams for improvement.
The chart may also represent for comparison of the cycle times to the required customer output or TAKT time.


A unit of measure for cloth. Yardage is the equivalent of the standard yard. The width of the fabric is measured and labelled in inches and the length of fabric roll is labelled in yard or meters. Some part of the world still prefer measurement in yardage rather than the metric system.
1 Yard = 0.91 meter
1 Yard = 36 inches = 3 feet.

Zero Defects

Zero defect is a manufacturing strategy, where in the quality performance standard is to produce zero defective pieces by doing it right first time. The zero-defect approach is beneficial to achieve waste reductions and increase profits by eliminating cost of poor quality. The strategy suggests that the manufacturer change their perspective and realise the high cost of quality issues, monitor causes of defects, and proactively take improvement measures.

Zones in Garment

A garment is divided into zones to evaluate visual defects during quality audit. A garment can have three zones - A, B, and C. The number of zones is dependent on the product and its end use. In most of the cases apparel buyers, provide garment figures with marking zones in their quality manual along with a list of defects that fall under major or minor categories. A defect that is minor if it falls in zone B may be major if it is in zone A.
Zone A - the visual area of the garment is considered as a major area and of critical importance.
Zone B - the visual area of the garment is considered as a minor area of importance and is not critical.

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Dear OCS readers, we are pleased to share with you that we have published the Apparel Manufacturing Terms and Definitions on this page. A few days back we had published a free eBook on this subject. To make it easier for online access to these common apparel manufacturing terminologies, we are creating this page. If you need a definition of a term that is not listed here, please drop an email to us. This directory is compiled by OCS author Dipanwita Roy. 

Click on the book cover to download the PDF version of this eBook.

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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