Tally Counter for Garment Production Counting for Operators

Your work is not completed until you count the production quantity of the line. To someone until they count production of individual operators’ production. Now how would you like to count it that is your choice. In this article, I will show how to use a tally counter (an electronic finger tally counter and a hand tally counter) for production counting. 

Tally Counter for Sewing operators

The objective of using a tally counter is to count garment production in the sewing line by operators which could assist line leaders (line supervisors), industrial engineers, and data recorders in preparing production reports, line balancing, and WIP management.   

There are many ways of capturing the production data of individual operators. One way is to give the operator a finger tally counter and ask them to use it for counting garment production as they stitch garments. This counter can be used for other manual activities such as pressing operations, marking panels, and matching garment components before loading components into the assembly area.
In my recent visit to a garment unit, I saw another way of production data capturing where operators are provided tally counter devices. Operators press the counter button as they complete the bundle or single piece.

I have seen garment factories where operators use to note down their production quantity on paper, in a notebook, or on printed templates. The counting is normally done by using tally marking or writing the number of produced quantities when they move the stitched garment to the next operator. Whether it is a piece rate payroll system or a salaried payroll environment, you need operation-wise production quantity. Compared to writing the production by hand using a pen or pencil,  a tally counter would be a better option which can save time for the operators. 

Why do sewing operators take such pain (extra effort) in production counting (pieces stitched)?

It is not easy for an operator to tell a supervisor how many garments they have stitched when a supervisor asks them about the produced quantity. This extra effort without much investment helps the production data collector capture hourly production data from the operator’s unit counter device. This individual operator's production data helps them to calculate WIP between operations in the production line. 

Disadvantages of using a tally counter:

I know there are many disadvantages to using this tally counter and considering counter quantity as produced quantity. Here are some key disadvantages -

You may not get the accurate production data. Sometimes operator may press more than the actual garments they stitched. That may happen by mistake and the operator can adjust that extra counter by not pressing the counter button when they complete the next piece. I would suggest ignoring this data accuracy part. At least, these tally counters provide you production data. It is better to have something than to have no data. It is one step improvement.

You cannot store the previous day’s production data.

You cannot send tally counter data to a centralized computer system. So manually someone needs to note down the daily production data and later enter the production data in a computer. The operator can note down daily production data (based on tally counter reading) in a notebook. Later data collector/data operator can transfer that production data to a computer.

This small device helps record cumulative production data for the current day. If the line supervisor wants to capture data by style number when multiple styles are running on the same day, an operator needs to reset the counter and start from 1 for the second style.

Where to place or keep the production counter?

As per operators’ convenience, some operators place the device on the right side of the table near the thread stand. Some operators prefer to place it on the sewing machine head (as shown in the below image). Some operators wear it on a finger that does not obstruct their work. 

Sewing machine
Image: A tally counter placed on the sewing machine head. 

How to count production with a Tally Counter?  

Operators update the quantity at their convenience which is part of operation rhythm. When operators work bundle-wise, they complete the bundle first and before picking the next bundle they update the quantity. If it is a 10-unit bundle, the operator presses the button 10 times to update 10 units. 

Operators who work by individual pieces (in assembly operations) update the production after each piece they complete. Operators may use another way of counting pieces based on their comfortability of counting production.

Tally counter device:

Tally counter devices are available in many designs - digital devices (as shown in the first image on this page) and mechanical tally counter. For sewing operators, a finger tally counter is the most convenient one. 

You can buy these devices from the Amazon store


Looking into the current production data capturing system in your company company you can decide if this tool is useful or not. I know a tally counter is not the best solution for production counting but an option for garment manufacturing factories. 

I would suggest garment companies use real-time production-capturing systems if they need to capture individual operators' production and performance in real time. A real-time system provides you accurate data and motivates operators when they see their performance on the device. 

But for implementing real-time production tracking you need to set up an infrastructure, and you need to invest in such a system. This simple solution (tally counter) can be used to get operators' production quantity without major investment.

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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