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Garment Manufacturing Process

1. Introduction
Apparel mass production started in 17th century for navies
and militaries. Whereas, until the 19th century, garment
manufacturing were carried out as bespoke in local tailors for
the civil communities. Mass production of garment started at
the end of 19th century in USA and spread to Europe later.
After First World War, mass production was carried out widely
in western world. At that time, goods were often made on a
"make-through" system: that is, each garment was made
from start to finish by one multi-skilled operative or in some
cases by a skilled master tailor who employed several
trainees to work under his guidance.

Later fords model of mass production started in the

manufacturing of mens clothing as it more standardized and
incorporate less number of details than womens clothing. In
addition, mens wear companies gained prior experiences in
mass production of long runs standardize uniforms and
military dresses that facilitate mass production. As mass
production techniques developed, costs could be held down
more effectively through investment and planning to secure

Garment Manufacturing Process

economies of scale than by utilizing sweatshop practices and

employing homeworkers.

Consumers now demand more variety in product lines and

retailers expect faster delivery, better quality and lower
costs. The ability to meet increasingly stringent delivery
commitments while also maximizing profits is critical to any
company's success in today's global business environment.
Every season, fashion/apparel companies must continually
design and develop new lines and collections to keep
retailers interested and spur consumer sales. Being able to
meet delivery dates and quickly respond to market trends is
critical, increasing the need for more accurate forecasting,
planning and scheduling.

These goals can only be achieved if a company recognizes

the critical role played by planning and scheduling in the
manufacturing and distribution processes. Poor planning
costs money -orders are delayed, priority orders are
overlooked, sales and customers are lost, and the level of
obsolescent inventory increases.

Understanding garment manufacturing processes and ability

of efficient production planning is crucial for the survival of
garment industries. Garment production systems
Garment Manufacturing Process

revolutionized in the past several years. The industrial scale

production of garments and similar textile end-products is an
activity that has roots back to the 19th century, and that has
profited immensely from continuous technological
development since its first emergence. These developments
reflect on important aspects of the industrial production
infrastructure, as are product design and development,
production planning and management, and manufacturing
equipment itself. But several characteristics of garment
manufacturing make difficult to manage and control
production processes.

The first of the characteristic of textile materials significant in

this aspect are its limpness and elasticity. These properties
make material handling and transportation within the shop
floor, and at the individual assembly operations, very difficult
to automate. Although equipment manufacturers have
continuously been developing all kinds of auxiliary devices
aimed at increasing productivity and quality it can been
observed that almost all of the operation involved in garment
assembly still depend on the human operator or on its
supervision (especially in sewing operations). When human
intervention in manufacturing increases, enormous quality
and productivity problem raises. By nature, man cant be

Garment Manufacturing Process

concentrated and attentive for long period of time resulting

inconsistency of products which has huge impact in quality.
Difference in skills, fatigue, and handling affect the
productivity of garment manufacturing.

The second most fascinating aspect that affects garment

industries production is paradigm shift in international
trading of garments. As global markets change,
manufacturing strategies are also changing. Flexible
manufacturing that strives to be responsive to customer
demand are getting momentum in todays globalized market.
For the apparel manufacturing plant, flexible manufacturing
means the capability to quickly and efficiently produce a
variety of styles in small production runs with no defects.
This may require philosophy changes, new performance
criteria, effective use of new technology and better
development and use of resources than with traditional
production systems. The underlying philosophy is that the
manufacturing firm will operate with the flexibility needed to
meet the needs of its customers and the inherent ability to
adapt to immediate changes in the apparel market.

Garment Manufacturing Process

2. Garment Manufacturing Systems
Garment Manufacturing is the process by which garments are
created. Garments production is the last process of textile
production. Garments production is the heart of textile
production. Garments production includes the production of
finished apparel garments. Garment manufacturing systems
combine material (fabric and accessories), labours, and
capital resources in an organised way with the objective of
producing some styles.

All types of manufacturing contain two different aspects:

processes and operation. Processes are the courses in which
raw material (fabric and accessories) are transformed into
garments. Operation is an action performed in material by
machine or operators. There for production is the network of
processes and operations. In processes, a flow of material in
time and space; its transformation from fabric to components

Garment Manufacturing Process

to garments. But in operations; a work performed to

accomplish this transformation-the interaction and flow of
equipment and operators in time and space.

Productivity improvement is capability to reduce time and

space that machines and operators interacts and modifying
processes where raw materials flow to reduce time and
space it takes. In garment manufacturing, there are several
types of production systems each having its own process
types and operations.

An apparel garments production system is an integration of

materials handling, production processes, personnel, and
equipment that directs work flow and generates finished
garments products. Three types of production systems and
their variations are commonly used to mass produce apparel:
progressive bundle production, unit production, and modular
production of garments.

Each system of garments production requires an appropriate

management philosophy, materials handling methods, floor
layout for garments spreading, and employee training. Firms
may combine or adapt these systems to meet their specific
garments production needs. Firms may use only one
production system, a combination of systems for one product
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line, or different systems for different product lines in the

same plant.

2.1 Make Through System

This is essentially the traditional method of production

whereby one operator assembles the entire garment. In
men's bespoke wear, it is not uncommon for a tailor to
perform nearly every operation required to make the
garment, including machining, hand work and pressing.

With this production system the operator would be given a

bundle of cut work and would proceed to sew it according to
his or her own method of work. Of necessity, the labor
required by this system must be highly skilled and versatile,
a combination which is becoming exceedingly rare and
increasingly expensive.

This type of system is effective when a very large variety of

garments have to be produced in extremely small quantities.
A typical application would be in the sewing room of a
boutique, which produces its own merchandise. The
advantages and disadvantages of a make through system
are shown in Table 1.

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The disadvantages of the

The advantages of the Make
Make Through System
Through System are:

Quick throughput time. Low productivity.

Easy to supervise. High labor cost.

Effective for large variety Only very experienced

of style in extremely small operators can be used.

It is a system only
suitable in couture and
sample making.

Table 1 - Advantages and disadvantages of Make through


2.2 Whole Garment Production System

There are two types of whole garment production systems:

(1) complete whole garment and (2) departmental whole
garment. In the whole garment system one individual makes
the entire garment from cutting the cloth to sewing and
pressing the garment. The garment is ready for dispatch
once the operator completes the final operation. This type of
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system is used in a few places, which are engaged in

custom-wholesale. They are normally high priced and
exclusively made for a particular customer. They are limited
in number and distribution; normally about 10-20 garments
are made.

The departmental whole garment system is also used by

custom wholesale manufacturers as well as high price or
better dress manufacturers. In the departmental whole
garment system one individual does all the work with the
equipment allocated to a department. For example, one
person does all the cutting work in cutting department,
second person does all the sewing work in sewing
department, and the third person does the pressing and
packing work. The workers in this system may use more than
one equipments to complete their respective job.

Figure 1: Make Through Manufacturing Layout

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1. This system is more effective when a very large variety

of garments have to be produced in extremely small

2. In Individual piece rate system the operators will do

with full involvement: To finish more pieces, to earn
more money.

3. Operator will be specialized in his own working area.

4. As the pay depends upon the complication of the

operation, the operator will try to finish the complicated
operation also without any difficulties.

5. The Work in Progress (WIP) is reduced, at a time one cut

garment to one operator and so the amount as
inventory is reduced.


1. Highly skilled laborers are used, so the cost of labor is high.

2. The operator is more concerned on the number of pieces

finished rather than the quality of work.

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3. Productivity is less due to lack of specialization. For long

run/bulk quantity of same style is not effective in this system.

2.3 Section or Process System - Group System

This is a development of the making through system, with

the difference that the operators specialize in one major
component and sew it from beginning to end. For example,
an operator specializing in fronts would assemble the front,
set the pockets, etc and perform all the operations required
to finish that particular component.

The sewing room would have a number of sections, each

containing versatile operators capable of performing all the
operations required for a specific component. The sections
are built according to the average garment produced, and

Pre-assembling (the preparation of small parts)

Front making

Back making

Main assembly (closing, setting collars and sleeves, etc)

Lining making
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Setting linings

Finishing operations (buttonholes, blind-stitching, etc)

All in all, this is a very efficient system for producing a

variety of styles in reasonable quantities. Figure 1 shows a
typical layout and workflow for this type of system.


1. As the labour of all levels, i.e. Semi-skilled, skilled,

trainee can be used in this system; the labour cost is
less compared with individual system.

2. Productivity is higher compared to individual system,

because of the use of special machine and all types of

3. This system is very efficient for producing a variety of

styles in reasonable quantities.

4. Automation and specialisation can be done.

5. Absenteeism and machine breakdown problems will not

cause serious problems.


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1. All the levels of operators are involved in the work, so

the quality of garment should be strictly maintained.

2. Even though productivity is high still the highly skilled

operators are required to perform simple operation
within the section.

3. Group of people involved in each section and so we

require more WIP, which increases the inventory cost.

4. As this is not a bundling system, there are more

chances to mix up of lost, shade variation, sizes, so
quality and production will be affected.

2.4 Conventional Bundle System

With this system, sewing machines are arranged in lines. 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 forth. A distributor stationed at the
store is responsible for receiving and dispatching the work.
The work in progress is in the form of bundles. These bundles
may be put on to a tray, a box, or a bag, or the garment
parts may be wrapped and tied. The conventional bundle

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system was widely used in garment factories in Hong Kong

during the 1950s. At that time, the level of managerial skill
was not as high as it is today. The system is still used in
certain places where there are frequent changes in garment
style but a low level of managerial skill.

Figure 2 - A conventional bundle system.

2.5 The Clump System

Another system that has the same characteristics as the
conventional bundle system is the 'clump' system as shown
in Figure 2. In Figure 2, a worker collects a clump of materials
from the worktable and carries out the first operation. After

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he has completed his part of the work, he returns it to the

table. A worker for the second operation then continues the
work and so on. The process is ' collection - work -return'
continues until the whole garment has been assembled.

Figure 3 - Another example of a conventional bundle system

-the clump system
The disadvantages of
The advantages of the
conventional bundle
conventional bundle
system are:
system are:
The system is flexible, It requires excessive
as it can cope with handling of the materials
frequent style by the operators, as they
changes. have to carry their work
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back to the central

Worker absenteeism
does not cause any
major problems, as the
It is difficult to control the
controller can control
the amount of work
received and
It is difficult to see the
The system is easy to work in progress at the
operate and supervise. various stages of
This system may
encourage individual
Engineering of work
workers to work faster,
places is difficult because
as they constantly
machines are arranged in
have to return their
the limited capacity.
own work to the
central inventory.
It is easier to obtain a
uniform level of
High level of work-in-
quality, as the
controller can check
the quality control.
Large storage space is
required to cope with the
large volume of work-in-
Table 2: Advantage and disadvantages of Conventional
Bundle System

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2.6 Progressive Bundle System

The progressive bundle system (PBS) of garments production
gets its name from the bundles of garment parts that are
moved sequentially from operation to operation. This system,
often referred to as the traditional garments production
system, has been widely used by garments manufacturers
for several decades and still is today. The AAMA Technical
Advisory Committee (1993) reported that 80 percent of the
apparel manufacturers used the bundle system of garments
production. They also predicted that use of bundle systems
for garments production would decrease as firms seek more
flexibility in their production systems.

Bundles system of garments production consist of garment

parts needed to complete a specific operation or garment
component. For example, an operation bundle for pocket
setting might include shirt fronts and pockets that are to be
attached with garments. Bundle sizes may range from two to
a hundred parts. Some firms operate with a standard bundle
size of particular garments, while other firms vary bundle
sizes according to cutting orders, fabric shading, size of the
pieces in the bundle, and the operation that is to be
completed. Some firms use a dozen or multiples of a dozen
of garments because their sales are in dozens. Bundles of

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garments are assembled in the cutting room where cut parts

are matched up with corresponding parts and bundle tickets.

Bundles of cut parts are transported to the sewing room in

the garments and given to the garments operator scheduled
to complete the garments production operation. One
garments operator is expected to perform the same
operation on all the pieces in the bundle, retie the bundle,
process coupon, and set it aside until it is picked up and
moved to the next operation of garments production. A
progressive bundle system of garments production may
require a high volume of work in process cause of the
number of units in the bundles and the large buffer of backup
that is needed to ensure a continuous work flow for all
operators in garments.

The progressive bundle system of garments production may

be used with a skill center or line layout depending on the
order that bundles are advanced through garments
production. Each style may have different processing
requirements and thus different routing. Routing identifies
the basic operations, sequence of garments production, and
the skill centers where those garments operations are to be
performed. Some garments operations are common to many

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styles, and at those operations, work may build up waiting to

be processed.

With the progressive bundle system, the sewing operations

are laid out in sequence. Each operator receives a bundle,
does his work, reties the bundle and passes it to the next
operator. Figure 3 shows a schematic view of the progressive
bundle system. There is usually a storage facility such as
rack, bin or table for storing the inter-process work between
each operation. The work is routed by means of tickets. Any
imbalance in production can be corrected by using utility
workers. This system is the most widely used system in the
garment industry today. It is used in shirt factories, jeans
factories, jacket factories, etc.

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Figure 4- A progressive bundle system.

The advantages
of the The disadvantages of
progressive progressive bundle
bundle system system are:
High productivity. Machine investment costs
are highy.
The system is not very
adaptable for short-run
A high level of
production and frequent
labor utilization
style changes, as these
can be achieved.
require rearrangement of
the workstations.
A uniformly high It involves high handling
standard of work costs for bundle handling
can be achieved. and transportation.

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It requires a high level of

Training time and
work in progress and
costs can be
therefore a high capital
It requires a high level of
management skill to
arrange the workflow and
labor can be
decide on the number of
operators for each
performance can
be monitored
and incentives
Table 3: Advantages and Disadvantages of PBS

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2.7 Flexible Flow System

It is similar as the progressive bundle system, shown in
Figure 4. The main feature of this system is that a section of
sewing operators, each with a supply of work in a rack at the
side, work at an engineered work place. The machines are
laid out in such a way that a flow of work can be planned
using the correct number of operators in sequence. In Figure
4, two styles of garment are being made at one time. For
style Agarments, the work distributed after operation 1 can
be distributed to the two operators performing operation 2.
On Completion, the work from both workers is then sent to
operator 3. After operation 3, the work is continued by the
two operators performing operation 4 and so on. Style B
progresses more or less the same way as that of style A.

One important point to notice is that when a new style is to

be loaded on to the system, the number of operators needed
for each operation must be planned in detail to ensure a
balanced output. The number of operators for an operation
should be proportionate to the time needed for that
operation. Detailed planning ensures that if the production
run on a style is short, only a few operators are allocated to
that style.

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Figure 5 - Flexible flow system.

The advantages
The disadvantages of
of the flexible
flexible flow system are:
flow system are:
Machine investment costs are
less than progressive bundle
High productivity.

The system is adaptable for

short-run production and
A high level of
frequent style changes, as
labor utilization
these do not require
can be achieved.
rearrangement of the
A uniformly high It involves high handling

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standard of work costs for bundle handling and

can be achieved. transportation.
It requires a high level of
Semi-skilled labor work in progress and
can be used. therefore a high capital
Individual It requires a high level of
performance can management skill to arrange
be monitored and the work flow and decide on
incentives the number of operators for
offered. each operations.
Table 4: Advantage and Disadvantages of Flexible Production

2.8 Straight Line System

With this system, the manufacturing process is broken down
into several operations, which take the same time to
complete. Figure 5 shows an example of a straight-line
system. Groups of operators are required to handle only
individual garments. The garment parts (in trays) pass from
one operator to the next, until the garment has been
completely made up by one group of operators. The central
distribution unit may be a fixed table, which must be wide
enough for the type and style of garment being assembled
and long enough to accommodate the required number of
operations. Alternatively, the distribution unit may be a

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conveyor belt, as shown in Figure 5 when a moving conveyor

belt is used, its speed will be set to suit the cycle time.

The straight-line system is used where production continues

for six to eight weeks. In the garment industry, examples of
this system can be found in factories making underwear,
overalls, shirts, and certain classic garments.

Figure 6 - An example of a straight line system

The advantages of
The disadvantages of
the straight line
straight line system are:
system are:

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The throughput time

The system is not very
is fast and the work
flexible to style change.
in progress is low.
Material handling
time is low and there Quality control can be
is noback tracking of difficult to achieve.
Absenteeism can cause
The space required
problems, as the system is
for each operator is
based on workers working
within a time limit.
It does not require a Machine breakdowns and
great deal of worker absenteeism or
technical lateness may disrupt the
supervision. workflow.
The opportunities to
Shading control can engineer work places are
be improved. limited and it is difficult to
introduce specialization.
The system requires a high
investment in machinery,
as it is necessary to
duplicate several different
types of machines
A high standard of work
measurement is necessary
and high pre-production
skills are required.
Table 5: The advantages and disadvantages of Straight Line

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2.9 Synchro Flow System

Another system having similar characteristics to the straight-
line system is the 'Synchro flow' system, shown in Figure 6.
With this system, garment parts of the same size and color
are processed separately. Different garment parts can be
processed simultaneously for assembling. You can see from
Figure 6 that the main body of the garment goes down a
central line. At the seam time, collars, sleeves, cuffs,
pockets, etc., from other lines also go down a central line.
The different garment parts are then processed together to
form completed garments.

Figure 7 - A synchro flow system.

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The advantage of the The disadvantages of

Synchro flow system synchro flow system
are: are:
The throughput time is Absenteeism can cause
fast and the work in problems, as the system
progress is low is based on workers
working within a time
Material handling time is Machine breakdowns
low and there is no back and worker absenteeism
tracking of material or lateness may disrupt
the workflow
It does not require a A high standard of work
great deal of technical measurement is
supervision necessary and high pre-
production skills are
Table 6: the advantage and disadvantage of the synchro
production system

2.10 Unit Production System

A unit production system (UPS) is a computer-controlled
production line. It is a type of line layout that uses an
overhead transport system to move individual units from
work-station to work station for assembly.

The first Unit Production System for garment manufacturing

was developed about 1965 by the Eton Manufacturing

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Company of Sweden. The concept was not new - for many

years overhead conveyors have been used in other industries
to transport work pieces from station to station in a fixed
sequence. What made the Eton System different was that
one could very quickly, via a mechanical keypad, reprogram
the sequencing of each work station. This allowed for rapid
routing changes in the transportation sequence of garment
parts. The fl\z\zo\zw of the work could now be set according
to the sequencing requirements of each style and each would
move through its production cycle without any work-moving
labor cost. This system effectively eliminated the need for
bundle-handling labor.

A unit production system (UPS) of garments production is a

type of line layout that uses an overhead transporter system
to move garment components from work station to work
station for assembly. All the parts for a single garment are
advanced through the production line together by means of a
hanging carrier that travels along an overhead conveyor. The
overhead rail garments production system consists of the
main conveyor and accumulating rails for each work station
of garments. The overhead conveyor operates much like a
railroad track. Carriers are moved along the main conveyor
and switched to an accumulating rail at the work station

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where an operation is to be performed. At the completion of

an operation the operator presses a button, and the carrier
moves on to the next operation.

Most unit production systems of garments production are

linked to a computer control center that routes and tracks
production and provides up-to-the-minute data for
management decisions. The automatic control of work flow
sorts work, balances the line, and reduces claims of
favoritism in bundle distribution in garments production.
Electronic data collection provides payroll and inventory
data, immediate tracking of styles, and costing and
performance data for prompt decisions.

Processing begins at a staging area in the sewing room of

garments. Cut parts for one unit of a single style are grouped
and loaded directly from the staging area to a hanging
carrier. Loading is carefully planned so minimal handling is
required to deliver garment parts in precisely the order and
manner that they will be sewn. When possible, garments
operations are completed without removing the parts from
the carrier. Varied sizes and types of hanging carriers are
available for different types of garments products.
Automated garments handling replaces the traditional

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garments production system of bundling, tying and untying,

and manually moving garment parts. Unit production
systems eliminate most of the lifting and turning needed to
handle bundles and garment parts.

The need for bundle tickets and processing operator coupons

is also eliminated when an integrated computer system
monitors the work of each garments operator. Individual bar
codes or electronic devices are embedded in the carriers and
read by a bar code scanner at each workstation and control
points in garments factory. Any data that are needed for
sorting and processing such as style number, color shade,
and lot can be included.

Integrated garments production systems have on-line

terminals located at each work station to collect data on
each operation. Each garment operator may advance
completed units, reroute units that need repair or processing
to a different station of garments, and check their efficiencies
and earnings. Garments operator may signal for more
inventory or call for a supervisor if assistance is needed. The
terminals at each station enables central control center to
track each unit at any given moment and provide garments

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management with data to make immediate decisions on

routing and scheduling.

Garments operators of the UPS control center can determine

sequences of orders and colors to keep operators supplied
with work and to minimize change in equipment, operations,
and thread colors. A unit garments production system can
control multiple routes and simultaneous production of
multiple styles without restructuring production lines in
garments. The control center may perform routing and
automatic balancing of work flow, which reduces bottlenecks
and work stoppages. Each operator as well as the control
center is able to monitor individual work history. Data can be
collected on the amount of time an garments operator works,
time spent on each individual unit, number of units
completed, the operator who worked on each unit, and the
piece rate earned for each unit in garments. The system of
garments production will calculate the earnings per hour, per
day, and the efficiency rate of each garments operator.

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Figure 8 - Unit Production System using computerized

selector conveyors.

Advantages of Unit Production System of garments


Benefits of a unit garments production system depend on

how a production system is used and the effectiveness of
management. Throughput time in the sewing room can be
drastically reduced when compared to the progressive
bundle system of garments production because works in

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process levels are reduced. Garments operator productivity

increases. Direct labor costs are reduced because of
prepositioned parts in the carriers and elimination of bundle
processing. Indirect labor costs may be reduced by
elimination of bundle handling and requiring fewer
supervisors. Quality is improved because of accountability of
all garments operators and immediate visibility of problems
that are no longer concealed in bundles for extended periods
of time. The central control system in garments production
makes it possible to immediately track a quality problem to
the operator that completed the operation. Other benefits
that are realized are improved attendance and employee
turnover and reduced space utilization.

Disadvantages Unit Production System of garments


Considerations for installing a UPS include costs of buying

equipment, cost of installing, specialized training for the
production system, and prevention of downtime. Down time
is a potential problem with any of the garments production
systems, but the low work in process that is maintained
makes UPS especially vulnerable.
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2.10.1 Comparison Between unit and pbs

In the industrial sewing plants various types of sewing

systems are installed. A plant owner chooses these systems
depending on the production volume, product categories,
and cost effectiveness of high tech machineries. Among
those Progressive Bundle System (PBS) is mostly installed
sewing system till date. In this production system bundles of
cut pieces (bundle of 5, 10, 20 or 30 pieces) are moved
manually to feed the line. Then inside the line an operator
himself drag the bundle from side table and transfer the
bundle to the next operator after completion of the work.
With the advancement of the technology mechanical
material transportation systems are brought in the sewing
plant. An overhead material transport system, known as UPS
(Unit Production System) transports cut pieces hanged in
hangers (one hanger for one piece) by automated
mechanical transport system. It reduces manual
transportation and it has many other benefits against the
progressive bundle system. This article is not to recommend
one to replace this well placed progressive bundle system.
When to install a new technology is depend on various
factors. A comparison between these two production systems
has been drawn in the following table on the basis of

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production KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to show how an

UPS system (overhead hanging and sensor controlled
system) is most effective over PBS.

Parameters Progressive Bundle Unit Production

System (PBS) System (UPS)
Transportation -Manual transportation, -In this system an
many times helper are automated mechanical
hired for this bundle system carries pieces to
transportation job. each work stations.

-Operators stop their -Easier pick up and

work to fetch bundles. dispose at each work
station. Resulted quick
-Less effective in terms response time
of production
management. Resulted
long response time.
Through put time -Compare to UPS, -Through put time in
through put time longer UPS is less compare to
in PBS. How much long PBS. But it is not the
will depend on the minimum time as in this
bundle size and no. of system there is WIP in
bundles kept in between two operators.
between two operators.
Direct Labour - Direct labour content -Direct labour content is
content is high because usually less than PBS because
operator does tying and an operator only sews
untying of bundles, the garment part rather
positioning than other tasks. In this
components, pulling the system garment parts
bundle ticket and are held by the over
handling of work pieces. head hanger, so less

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handling of garment
WIP level -In PBS generally -Less WIP in between
operators are asked to operators. As
sew as much pieces as workstation has limit of
they can without holding no. of hangers.
considering back and Also after completion of
front operators. This operation hangers are
resulted piling up of transported to the next
work in the operations operation automatically.
with higher work
Cutting work -As a result of High -Lower WIP results in
requirement Work In Process (WIP) is less cutting works. A
required by sewing balanced flow of
section, cutting sections material established in
are required to perform between cutting and
60-70% more than sewing line.
actual production can
Inventory Level -Due high WIP and -Less inventory for
higher cutting, fabrics fabric and trims.
and trims need to stock
in advance
Excess labour - Usually in PBS needs -Plant with UPS system
requirement more overtime works, needs less overtime as
repair work due to some planning is easy in this
unfinished operations. manufacturing system.

2.11 Modular Garments Production System

A modular garments production system is a contained,
manageable work unit that includes an empowered work

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team, equipment, and work to be executed. Modules

frequently operate as minifactories with teams responsible
for group goals and self-management. The number of teams
in a plant varies with the size and needs of the firm and
product line in garments. Teams can have a niche function as
long as there are orders for that type of garments product,
but the success of this type of garments operation is in the
flexibility of being able to produce a wide variety of products
in small quantities in garments.

Figure 9 Modular Manufacturing

Many different names are currently used to identify modular

garments production systems, including modular garments
manufacturing, cellular garments manufacturing units,
compact work teams, flexible work groups, self-directed work
teams, and Toyota Sewing System (TSS) in garments. The
basic premise is similar among these production systems,
although the organization and implementation may vary.

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The number of employees on a team, usually 4 to 15, varies

with the product mix. A general rule of thumb is to determine
the average number of operations required for a style being
produced and divide by three. Team members cross-trained
and interchangeable among tasks within the group. Incentive
compensation is based on group pay and bonuses for
meeting team goals for output and quality. Individual
incentive compensation is not appropriate for team-based
garments production. Teams may be used to perform all the
operations or a certain portion of the assembly operations
depending on the organization of the module and processes
required. Before a firm can establish a modular production
system, it must prioritize its goals and make decisions that
reflect the needs of the firm.

With a team-based system operators are given the

responsibility for operating their module to meet goals for
throughput and quality. The team is responsible for
maintaining a smooth work flow, meeting production goals,
maintaining a specified quality level, and handling
motivational support for the team. Team members develop
an interdependency to improve the process and accomplish
their goals. Interdependency is the relationship among team

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members that utilizes everyone's strengths for the

betterment of the team.

2.11.1 Work flow in modular garments


A Modular garments Production System operates as a Pull

System, with demand for work coming from the next
operator in line to process the garment. Wastage is normal,
and workflow is continuous and does not wait ahead of each
operation. This increases the potentials for flexibility of styles
and quantities of products that can be produced. Teams
usually operate as Stand-up or Sit-down units.

A module may be divided into several work zones based on

the sequence of garments operations and the time required
for each operation. A work zone consists of a group of
sequential garment operations. Operators are trained to
perform the operations in their work zone and adjacent
operations in adjoining work zones so they can move freely
from one operation to another as the garment progresses.

Work flow within a module may be with a Single-piece hand-

off, Kanban, or Bump-back system. If a single-piece hand-off
is used, machines are arranged in a very tight configuration.

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As soon as an operation is completed the part is handed to

the next operator for processing. Operations need to be well
balanced as there is usually only one garment component
between each operation. Some modules may operate with a
buffer or small bundle of up to ten pieces of work between
operators. If a small bundle is used, an operator will
complete the operation on the entire bundle and carry the
bundle to the next operation. An operator may follow a
component or bundle for as many operations as they have
been trained or until the adjacent operator is ready to
assume work on the bundle.

A Kanban uses a designated work space between operations

to balance supply with demand. The designated space will
hold a limited number of completed components (two or
three) in queue for the next operation. If the designated
space is full, there is no need to produce more until it is
needed or the space empties. This limits build up of product
ahead of the next operation. When the space is full the
operator can assist with other operations that may be slow.

The bump-back or TSS (Toyota Sewing System) approach was

developed by the Toyota Sewn Product Management System
and is probably the most widely used type of team-based

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manufacturing. It is a stand-up module with flexible work

zones and cross-trained operators. Operators may be cross-
trained on up to four different successive operations. This
enables operators to shift from operation to operation until
the next operator is ready to begin work on the garment. The
operator needing work steps to the beginning of the zone
and takes over the processing at whatever point it is in the
production process. The operator who has been relieved of
the garment will then move back to the beginning of the
work zone and take over work on another garment. This
approach enables continuous work on a garment and allows
each operator to perform several different operations. This
arrangement frequently uses a 4-to-l ratio of machines to

Advantages of a Modular Garment Production System are:

1.) High flexibility

2.) Fast throughput times
3.) Low wastages
4.) Reduced Absenteeism
5.) Reduced Repetitive Motion Ailments
6.) Increased employee ownership of the
production process
7.) Empowered employees
8.) Improved Quality

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Disadvantages of Modular Garments Production System:

1.) A high capital investment in equipment.

2.) High investment in initial training.
3.) High cost incurred in continued training

2.12 Quick response system layout

Some of the basic machinery is duplicated in different

stations and if there is a bottleneck in one section the
overload is automatically transported to other stations where
operator capacity is available.

All the parts of one garment are loaded into a hanging clamp
attached to the trolley and in theory, there should only be
one garment at each workstation. Work is transported by a
computer controlled, overhead trolley system and each
station has an individual controller, which provides the
operator with information on the style being worked on. This
information comes from an information card, which
accompanies each trolley.

A less sophisticated version of QRS uses a wheeled trolley,

which contains the components for one garment and is
pushed along the floor from operator to operator.

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Another feature of QRS is that all the operators work in a

standing position so that they can move quickly from one
machine to another within their own workstation. Machine
heights are adjusted accordingly and touch-pads and knee-
pads controls are used instead of conventional foot pedals.


Supervision: Freed to work with the operators.

Labour: Of necessity the operators must be highly
skilled in the operation of all the different machines in
one workstation.
Quality: In-process inspection stations are built into the
line and the inspector is able to return faulty work via
the system to the operator concerned.
Productivity: This is very high because the operator
handles the garment once only for a number of
operations, instead of once for each operation.
Throughput time: As there are so few garments on the
line throughput time is extremely short, which is the
objective of this system.
Layout: A typical unit would have eight work stations
arranges around the transport system.

There is no doubt that this type of system is one of the best answers
to the garment production revolution, which is becoming more

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apparent every day. Fashion changes are becoming more frequent

and as a consequence order lots are proportionately smaller. A
production system, which enables changeovers to be made in the
minimum of time is ideally suited to this new and dynamic situation.

Figure 10: layout of Quick Response

2.13 Evaluation of Production Systems

Any production system has four primary factors, which make
up the system. Processing Time + Transportation Time +
Temporary Storage Time + Inspection Time = Total
Production Time.

Processing time is sum total of working time of all operations

involved in manufacture of a garment. Transportation time
involves the time taken to transport semi-finished or finished
garments from one department to another or from one
operation/machine to another. Temporary storage time is
time during which the garment/bundle is idle as it waits for
next operation or for completion of certain parts. Inspection
time is time taken for inspecting semi-finished garments for

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any defects during manufacturing or inspecting fully finished

garments before packing.

The main aim of any production system is to achieve

minimum possible total production time. This automatically
reduces in-process inventory and its cost. The sub-assembly
system reduces temporary storage time to zero by
combining temporary storage time with transportation time.

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Chapter Three
Apparel Manufacturing Strategies

3.1 Introduction
Increased foreign competition has intensified the need for
more effective manufacturing. However, the means to
accomplish this task has become a subject of controversy. On
one hand, much of the practitioner literature suggests that
the implementation of Computer Integrated Manufacturing
(CIM) is the only means available to retain position of
manufacturing leadership, see, e.g., Vollum (1984) and
Berger (1986). Other authors cite the Japanese as having
achieved an extremely competitive position while employing
limited automation and using simple and decentralized
management techniques, e.g., Schonberger (1986).

This debate stems from the clash of two diametrical

viewpoints. In one vein, CIM represents the culmination of
manufacturing computer involvement that began with
material requirements planning (MRP), a suggested
improvement over the older reorder point (ROP) system, in
the early 1970s. In the opposing vein, the so called Japanese
manufacturing techniques such as just-in-time (JIT) or zero

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inventories (ZI), make little use of computers and instead

place greater responsibility for sc

.hedule compliance and quality on the production worker.

However, the techniques used to implement JIT and ZI are, in
many ways, identical to those found in the "out-dated" ROP

The terms push and pull refer to the means for releasing jobs
into the production facility. In a push system, a job is started
on a start date that is computed by subtracting an
established lead time from the date the material is required,
either for shipping or for assembly. A pull system is
characterized by the practice of downstream work centers
pulling stock from previous operations, as needed. All
operations then perform work only to replenish outgoing
stock. Work is coordinated by using some sort of signal (or
Kanban) represented by a card or sign. One problem with
comparing pull and push systems is that terms like JIT have
come to mean more than a way to schedule production. JIT
includes other features such as short setup times, perfect
quality, stockless production, and increased worker
involvement. To a certain extent, JIT has come to refer to all
that is good in manufacturing. As such, it is difficult to

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understand when and why push and pull systems are


The million-dollar question for any production manager today

is the selection between a push and a pull production
system. Push and pull systems determine when and where to
move material in a production process. A push system is
characterized by a make to stock environment and a pull
system is characterized by make to order. An appropriate
system that would cater to the requirements of the company
has to be selected.

A distinction is made between push and pull production

systems based on the trigger point. The pull system is based
on customer orders, while a push system is based on
forecasts. The fluctuations in inventory levels in a push
system are affected by forecasting errors, while the
fluctuations in customer demand affect the pull system. Most
of the production problems can be solved by using an
appropriate push and/or pull system. It is evident that neither
one is always better than the other.

In fact, a hybrid approach is more superior, depending upon

the manufacturing system. The main objective of a hybrid
system is to combine the best features of both worlds, rather
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than differentiating between the two. There is an

overwhelming need to develop integrated manufacturing
processes, which can correspond flexibly to market demands
and still maintain high productivity.

3.2 Features of Different Production


3.2.1 The Features of Mass Production

System small variety, large lot

The basic manufacturing method in mass production is the

assembly line conveyor system, also called the Ford System.
Mass production systems seek to achieve the following goals:

1. Increase in productivity
2. Uniformity of product
3. Reduction in costs
4. Consistency of quality
5. Shortening of production lead-time.

This means, in effect, that the production process is divided

into simple work units, in which it is easy to learn the work
and develop skills. This lessens disparities in skill between
employees, promotes product uniformity, and makes mass
production possible. The work done by each work unit should
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require about the same amount of time to make overall work

flow smoothly. This technique permits the workload to be
evenly distributed among all the employees and improves
the operational usage of equipment, enabling both men and
machines to achieve 100% performance without stopping the
lines. It also results in a certain measure of cost reduction.

In general, however, mass production systems must avoid

design changes or model diversity as much as possible if
they are to avoid changing the work content of each process,
increasing the number of parts for every model and adjusting
- as a result - the equipment for all necessary modifications.

If adjustment of work is required, there will always be an

accompanying loss of time and quality. To avoid this loss,
therefore, production is always done in large lots. For
example, parts for the same types and models are made
together. It is obviously a good idea to produce them in large
lots with the fewest possible changes of press dies. The
manufacture of common parts thus facilitates the whole
mass production system. This is short is the practical concept
behind the mass production work site.

It has generally been held that mass production, while

possessing various market characteristics, makes the
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maximum effect on cost reduction by systematic production

in large lots. The American automobile companies have
indeed proven this in the past. Mass production, as
summarized by the phrase conveyor system, certainly
involves work that flows along assembly lines, but if one
moves back up the production stream along the preceding
processes, one will note that the flow is not everywhere
constant. An automobile plant uses an assembly line with a
conveyor system, but those of its departments engaged in
the rough processing of materials, such as stamping or
casting and forging, cannot easily employ the conveyor
system. Here large lot production - demanded by equipment
limitations - becomes central.

We can see, in reviewing the characteristics of the mass

production system, while the ability to obtain good results
through large lot production is indeed an important factor,
the current shift to large-variety, small-lot production
presents serious problems for the older small-variety, large
lot production technique.

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3.2.2 The Features of Flexible Production

System large variety, small lot

The market is always changing through gradual expansion or

contraction, and never remains static. As a market matures,
the demands of its customers diversify and stimulate the
development of large variety, small lot production. This
variety includes types, models and options.

The ideal situation is to have the production department

make products in accordance with sales. At the actual work
site, however, there are many different restrictions on this
ideal, so the production plan is often formulated with
emphasis on the manufacturing side. The sales and
production planning departments can, in their interaction
with the production department, cause problems at the
plant, including poor forecast, uncertain production
schedules and numerous design changes in the manufacture
of products.

Given these conditions, the production department will try to

produce goods strictly by the production schedule table in
large lots, and without line stoppages, in order to increase
production efficiency and prevent any decrease in the

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operational usage of the equipment. It will also increase

stock as a hedge against breakdowns, defective products
and absenteeism. This type of factory employs many devices
in each process, thus increasing extra work and making it
difficult to properly assess production capacity. The various
problems connected with employees and equipment all tend
to blend into a murky fog. Under these circumstances, the
plant will start to manufacture products independently of
market needs and without the capacity to respond
immediately to customer needs. The result of all this is that
the amplitude of the increase and decrease in production
quantities will be much larger than actual conditions warrant.

To counteract this at the actual work site, our hypothetical

factory will increase equipment so it can accommodate
maximum production increases and will star to automate its
lines, both wasteful capital investments. Additionally, the
work will become unbalanced and the working methods
irregular, leading to problems in quality and labor relations. A
trend of this kind causes much waste and raises costs, and
clearly influences business results negatively.

Conventional production systems all follow this pattern to a

certain extent. Attempts to make improvements or introduce

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new equipment to develop the work site will, under such

circumstances, have a negligible effect.

3.2.3 The Features of Lean Production

System - TPS

The Toyota Production System symbolizes a management

philosophy for addressing issues related to: quality, cost,
productivity, and respect for people -- in conventional
production systems.

To achieve this objective, Toyota aims at a synchronized,

sequential production system that can deliver just enough
stock, at just the right time (just-in time), to each line along
the whole length of the production process.

In contrast to the conventional production system, in which

systematic mass production with large lots is believed to
have a maximum effect on cost reduction, the Toyota
philosophy is the Make the smallest lot possible, and do so
by setting up work stations in the shortest time possible.

If each process in a large-variety, small-lot production system

were to produce large rather than small lots, the stock
needed would be enormous due to the large variety of parts

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and would lead to great waste. This in turn would invite an

increase in cost and a decrease in quality.

At Toyota, measures have been taken to reduce almost to

zero the various types of waste resulting from overproduction
and overstocking. The key mechanism for this is the
application of the Pull System rule, by which the parts
needed for a succeeding process are picked up at the
preceding process with Kanban as the prime means for
conveying information.

3.2.4 Features of Customized Mass

production System

In 1993, Joseph Pine (Pine, 1993) gave MCM (Mass

Customization Manufacturing) a clear definition as a strategy
that sought to exploit the need to support greater product
variety and individualization. Further, the goal of MCM was to
produce and deliver customized products rapidly while
keeping costs at the mass-production level. Since 1993,
advancements to this innovative trend of manufacturing
strategy have been drawn from many related knowledge and
technology domains

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In recent years, advances in computer aided design (CAD),

product data management (PDM), and networking
technologies have made mass customization no longer a
legend, but closer than ever (Ruddy, 2002; Heikkila, 2002).
Richard Morley, inventor of the programmable logic controller
and co-author of The Technology Machine: How
Manufacturing Will Work in the Year 2020, forecasted that,
the word personal will take on more applications: personal
families, personal food designed to maximize custom diet
needs, personal clothing [clothing sized to individual bodies
and fabricated to personal climate and skin needs], and
personal [customer-designed] cars (Felton, 2001). Mass
customization is about to take center stage. MCM competent
manufacturers will enjoy superior market share and greater
profit margins, and it is the promise of these economic
incentives that will compel other manufacturers to move to
MCM sooner than later.

This strategy brings radical changes to methods used to

operate traditional manufacturing enterprises. It is changing
the way customers make purchases and has a strong impact
on how products are made (Smirnov, 1999).

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3.1 Push System

In conventional production systems, parts produced by one

process, as defined by the production schedule, are delivered
to following processes even if they are not yet needed there.
This method may be good when parts can be produced on
schedule throughout the whole process. But if just one
process has trouble and the line stops, the processes directly
related to the troubled one will suffer from either a shortage
or a backup of parts. This is called a push system.

Traditional manufacturing starts with the manufacturing,

regardless of the requirements for that product, and then
pushes to the next step. The next step can be an internal
process or the selling in the market. The disadvantage of this
system is the over production. This is because the production
is carried out without an actual requirement. To avoid
wastages the following processes must produce the same
quantities. At the end of the process, manufacturers might
have a large stock of products which there is no actual
demand in the market. To sell these products, which market
has no requirement; marketers have to create the
requirement. This requirement creation process will take
huge amount of money in the form of advertising campaigns,

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discounts etc. the worst part is, even with this effort there is
no guarantee that the goods can be sold.

Competition in the manufacturing industry over the next

decade will be focused on the ability to flexibly and rapidly
respond to changing market conditions. With significantly
shortened product life cycles, manufacturers have found that
they can no longer capture market share and gain higher
profits by producing large volumes of a standard product for
a mass market. Success in manufacturing requires the
adoption of methods in customer-acquisition and order-
fulfillment processes that can manage anticipated change
with precision while providing a fast and flexible response to
unanticipated changes (Fulkerson, 1997). Many companies
are confronted with the challenge of changing their strategic
orientations to meet demands of the current market place.

3.2 The Pull System

In conventional production systems, parts produced at one

process, as determined by the production schedule, are
delivered to succeeding processes even if they are not yet
needed there. This method may be good when parts can be
produced on schedule throughout the whole process. But if

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just one process has trouble and the line stops, the processes
directly related to the troubled one will suffer from either a
shortage or a backup of parts.

The pull system eliminates under or over production by

limiting production to those parts demanded by the next
downstream process. A typical vending machine is a good
example of a pull system in action. The customer pulls the
items needed, in the quantity needed, at the time needed.
The supplier replaces (fills up) only those items pulled by
the customer.

For a preceding process to produce the requisite quantity of

parts all production processes must have people, equipment
and materials that can manufacture the parts just-in-time.
If the downstream process demand is irregular in quantity
and time, the upstream process must proportionately
increase or decrease output to compensate for the

The pull system is designed to allow production of parts in

response to sales: unless an employee from the following
process goes to the preceding process to pick up the parts,
the preceding process must not produce any more parts than
required. Nothing will be produced until the next process
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really requires it. In the bigger picture, the manufacturers will

not produce anything, unless there is a customer demand.
The customer demand will pull the products from the
manufacturing facility. From the internal requirements point
of view, the first operation will create the product when the
second process creates the requirement. That is, second
process pulls the production from the first process.

Pull scheduling reduces the over production. Only the

required amount is produced in every stage. This will also
allow the system to work with virtually no WIP. Altogether
this makes a manufacturing system with very high flexibility
and no waste. Manufacturing system will be very highly
responsive to the customer requirements and will be closely
related to the market dynamics.

For the preceding process to produce the necessary quantity

of parts that the following process will pick up, all production
processes must have personnel, equipment and materials
that can manufacture the parts just in time. If the
succeeding process in irregular in its own quantity and time,
the preceding process must proportionately increase (or
decrease) its output to compensate for the irregularity.
Costs, therefore, will rise.

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Such irregularities must be minimized in large-variety, small-

lot production. This is done, by keeping the lots small to hold
down the flow of identical parts. The mechanism for this is
leveled production. Since the concept of leveling is
important in Lean Manufacturing, it will be discussed in detail
in the following section.

3.3 Push-pull System

Hybrid of push and pull strategies overcome the

disadvantages of each system. Early stages of product
assembly are done in a push manner. Partial assembly of
product based on aggregate demand forecasts (which are
more accurate than individual product demand forecasts).
Uncertainty is reduced so that safety stock inventory is
lowered. Final product assembly is done based on customer
demand for specific product configurations.

Push-pull manufacturing system can be illustrated by the

following example. Consider the case of an ideal a vertically
integrated textile mill ABC Ltd., which produced 100 percent
cotton shirting fabric manufacturer make greige yarn based
on forecast; producing based on forecast is push
manufacturing strategy; and yard dyeing, weaving and
remaining processing are carried out as per actual demand
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of customers. This implies that the manufacturing system of

ABC Ltd. is divided into two parts. The Push system is the
part of the ABC manufacturing processes prior to weaving,
while the Pull part is the part of ABCs manufacturing that
starts with weaving and is based on actual customer
demand. The famous fast fashion supplier Zara also practice
hybrid of push and pull manufacturing system.
Generic Product
Push StrategyPull Strategy Product
Raw Supply Chain Timeline End
Materials Consumer

Figure Hybrid of Push-Pull manufacturing system

3.4 Manufacturing system in Apparel


Fashion industry has short product life cycles, tremendous

product variety, volatile and unpredictable demand, long and
inflexible supply processes. Therefore, its difficult to
understand what customers want and the market demands.
The first stage in developing supply chain agility takes into
consideration what and how many products to produce, and

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what, if any, parts or components should be produced at

which plants or outsourced to capable suppliers. These
strategic decisions regarding production must also focus on
capacity, quality and volume of goods, keeping in mind that
customer demand and satisfaction must be met.

Next, an organization must determine what their facility or

facilities are able to produce, both economically and
efficiently, while keeping the quality high. But most
companies cannot provide excellent performance with the
manufacture of all components. Outsourcing is an excellent
alternative to be considered for those products and
components that cannot be produced effectively by an
organizations facilities. Companies must carefully select
suppliers for raw materials. When choosing a supplier, focus
should be on developing velocity, quality and flexibility while
at the same time reducing costs or maintaining low cost
levels. In short, strategic decisions should be made to
determine the core capabilities of a facility and outsourcing
partnerships should grow from these decisions.

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The industry increasingly contracts out its production work to

foreign suppliers to take advantage of lower labor costs in
other countries. In its place, a growing number of apparel
manufacturers are performing only the entrepreneurial
functions involved in apparel manufacturing such as buying
raw materials, designing clothes and accessories and
preparing samples, arranging for the production and
distribution of the apparel, and marketing the finished

One advantage the fashion industry has is its closeness to

the market and its ability to react to changes more quickly
than its foreign competitors can. Also, as retailers
consolidate and become more cost conscious, they require
more apparel manufacturers to move toward a just-in-time
delivery system, in which purchased apparel items are
quickly replaced by the manufacturer rather than from a
large inventory kept by the retailer. Through electronic data
interchangemainly using barcodesinformation is quickly
communicated to the manufacturers, providing information
not only on inventory, but also about the desires of the public
for fashion items.

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3.4.1 Production strategies

The four identified production strategies are: Flexible Manufacturing Strategy


This strives to be responsive to consumer demand for small

orders and short lead times. Flexible Manufacturing Strategy
means the capability to quickly and efficiently produce a
variety of styles in small production runs with no defects.
Industry adopting this strategy should effectively use the
new technology and resources. In simple words the
manufacturing firm adopting this strategy will operate with
the flexibility needed to meet the demands of its consumers
and the inherent ability to adapt immediate changes in the
apparel market.

An important advantage of FMS is that it can change as and

when the market fluctuates. The FMS can also be changed
to produce more or less of a product depending on the
requirement. This feature of FMS is what many
manufacturers seek out when developing a product. The FMS
can also expand when a manufacturer is looking to expand.

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The FMS can adapt to changes and new technologies as and

when they are developed.

Traditionally, apparel chains work in response to the orders

from distributors which are based on the forecasts. In a
dynamic industry like apparel industry, it is impossible to
accurately forecast the volumes and the product mix. This
can result in high costs of stock out and carrying costs.
Besides, forecasts in advance to the order of six months may
not be able to judge exactly the customer expectations.
Another important point is that the individual efficiencies in
the systems dont add up to overall efficiencies of the entire
value chain. These considerations across the textile apparel
industry gave rise to the concept of Quick Response system.

The adoption of QR requires major changes in the

manufacturing planning and control (MPC) systems. Firstly,
every player in the chain needs to have an information
system. Secondly, computer based systems are to be used in
an integrated manner to accelerate planning and to support
manufacturing and distribution along the chain. New
packages with better forecasting models, frequent re-
planning, precise shop floor control and technologies like
CAD and CAE, integrating design and manufacturing have to

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be used to build up better QR systems. The use of FMS

(Flexible Manufacturing Systems) is necessary for Quick
Response. Modular type production and Unitary production
systems are some of the flexible production systems which
can be used. Value-Added Manufacturing


This is a quick response strategy that focuses on eliminating

any unnecessary operations or handling that do not increase
the value of a product which will lead to delay in production.
The rationale of this strategy is that each operation
performed on a style should add value. Operations such as
inspection, bundling and sorting warehousing requires extra
time, handling and personnel but the activities do not add
any value to the product. Any industry which adopts value
added environment needs to evaluate processes and find
more efficient ways to produce a product. Agile Manufacturing Strategy

Agility is the dynamic ability of the firm to strategically use

change as a vehicle to grow in the new markets, with new
products and to develop new competencies. It requires an

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openness to change and flexibility to pursue change. The real

strength of an agile manufacturer is its ability to anticipate
consumer needs and through innovation lead the emergence
of new products. Mass Customization

The goal of mass customization is to produce products that

can be made-to-order rather than made to plan. Products life
cycle are short and the strategy requires processing single
orders with immediate turn around. Considering the
complexity of many apparel products and the number of
processes that a style may require, the equipment, skills,
information and the processes must be highly integrated.
This may involve single ply cutting, single piece continuous
floor manufacturing and integral information technology.

Apparel consumers will soon have the opportunity to have

garments fully customized including style, fit, fabric and trim
wit delivery direct to their home in a few days at a price
similar to the mass produced garments. Body scanning
technology will be the basis of custom fit. A combination of
computer aided design, single ply cutters, team based
assembly will facilitate shipping the garment the same day it
is ordered. Mass customization will reduce the risk associated

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with trying to anticipate consumer demand months ahead of

point of sale to the ultimate consumer.

Garment Manufacturing Process

Chapter Four
1 Capacity Planning
4.1 Introduction
The apparel and textile industry is a fascinating example of
manufacturing and the supply chain. This sector is under
constant pressure, competition is fierce, and there are always
rival firms waiting to challenge. Competition will increase still
more in 2005 when countries with export quota restrictions
to Europe and USA are freed from those constraints.

In the heyday of garment production in this country in the

1960s, 70s and early 80s, manufacturers named their price
based on their costs plus profit. They offered ranges of
garments to the retailer or wholesaler. After the latter had
made their selection, they placed a firm order for a
substantial quantity and expected one large delivery a few
months later.

This scenario has completely changed. The retailers now

drive the garment supply chain:

They know exactly what they want in terms of actual

They dictate price according to consumer pressure and
expectations (designers must work to price points

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-costing is done on a price minus basis, squeezing the

manufacturers margins)
They decide when they want it and in what quantities -
not all at once but as per a pre-determined delivery
schedule, that could last over weeks, and change at any

The retailer wants to remain as flexible as possible,

responding to consumer demand as accurately and as
quickly as possible. They use technology (such as EPOS
Electronic Point of Sale) to gather this information and seek
suppliers who can respond to their needs. It is the same in
many other sectors such as the food chain for example.

The main problems in clothing manufacture include:

Strong traditions, for instance in the culture of
organizations, job design, work organization, and the
way operators are paid; it is the same for their suppliers
Unresponsive and inflexible production systems
Fabric/cloth purchasing difficulties: due to the nature of
the process this takes at least two weeks to produce
and often much longer.
Many companies, such as the Spanish group Inditex (who
own the Zara retail chain), reduced this problem by
restricting the base fabrics their designers can use. Few
retailers work like this and are therefore faced with anything
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between 4 and 12 week lead times, immediately restricting

responsiveness and flexibility. Bennetton were the first to
pioneer this flexible approach with their grey state garments
that were dyed. Jaeger then adopted the same approach.

Global sourcing in the clothing industry brings cost

advantages as labour costs can be drastically reduced. In an
industry that is still very labour intensive and with retailers
squeezing margins, this is very important. But lead times,
responsiveness, and control can sometimes suffer as a
consequence of distance.

The pressures in this dynamic market place include:

Customers demanding more new fashions than ever
before at lower prices
More styles per season leads to fragmentation - more
styles to control in smaller quantities
Smaller order quantities lead to increased volume of
Small orders need smaller sewing teams, which leads to
increased management and planning
Shorter lead times commitment to production takes
place later each season
Changing customer requirements
Demands for accurate order information

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As in any other industry, to remain competitive

manufacturers need to:
Deliver on time
Improve productivity
Respond quickly
Reduce WIP
Deliver to a price
Reduce excess costs such as overhead
Introduce best practices
Achieve accurate and consistent information.

Fire-fighting is no longer an option. Change is essential in

order to survive, and good control is fundamental. Failing to
plan results in bottlenecks, unnecessary style changes, lack
of prioritization, and unclear order status. The result is loss of
customer confidence and loss of future orders.
The key word is value. How can a company create the most
value for its customers and thus reap the profit growth
needed to sustain the company?
The solution is to install a systematic and detailed approach
to production planning, but the textile industry is notoriously
traditional. In too many businesses, departments still operate
as functional islands. Managers may talk to each other but
work is uncoordinated and ineffective.

Garment Manufacturing Process

4.2 The Planning Process in Clothing

The basic process includes the following stages:
1. Receive the order
2. Plan to check if there is available capacity in sewing to achieve
the delivery date required
3. Plan to check the available capacity in non-sewing areas (cut,
embroidery; print, wash and pack)
4. Plan to check sufficient lead time to order and receive fabric,
trims, approve sample, carry out lab tests
5. Confirm delivery date to customer and reserve capacity
6. Communicate plan to all departments
7. Monitor progress against plan
8. Re-plan as required and return to Point 5.
In an ideal world, this cycle would be carried out in a systematic way.
No plan is ever perfect, but all that we have learned about total
quality management reminds us that we must aim at the ideal rather
than settle for Acceptable Quality Levels that have a built-in failure
rate. Although the first priority is the customer delivery date, the
factory must also consider the best place to make each product,
taking into account both skill and machine constraints. Production
efficiency depends upon this. In the clothing industry, planning will
typically focus on sewing, as it can account for up to 80% of the skill
and resources required. However, the capacity constraints of
supporting areas also have to be assessed. In particular, the pre-
production events must be planned to ensure that production begins
on schedule.

Garment Manufacturing Process

4.3 Basic Capacity Calculations

In Apparel Manufacturing, Production capacity is one of the most
important criteria used for vendor selection by the buyers. It is
because; the production time of an order is directly proportional to
vendors production capacity. So it is very important that marketing
and planning personnel should aware about the production capacity
of their production units.

Capacity of a factory is primarily expressed in terms of total

machines factory have. Secondly, how much pieces the factory
produces on daily for the specific products? In general, total numbers
of machines in a factory mostly remains same for a period. But
factory may produce various types of product during the season.
According to the product (style) category, machine requirement may
change and daily average production in each style may vary. So to
be specific during booking orders, planner should know exactly how
much capacity he or she needed to procure the order in a given time

A factorys capacity is presented in total minutes or hours or in

pieces (production per day). The method used to calculate capacity
has been explained in the following. To calculate Daily production
capacity (in pieces) one needs following information.

1. Factory capacity in hours

Garment Manufacturing Process

2. Product SAM
3. Line efficiency (Average)

1. Calculation of factory capacity (in hours): Check how many

machines factory has and how many hours factory runs in a day. For
example suppose,
Total number of machines = 200
Shift hours per day = 10 hours
So total factory capacity (in hours) = 200*10 hours = 2000 hours

2. Calculation of Product SAM (SAM): Make a list of product

category that you manufacture and get standard minutes (SAM) of
all products you make from work study engineers. Can anybody
estimate SAM (standard allowed minute) of a garment without
seeing and/or analyzing the garment? No. It is not possible. To
estimate SAM you have to analyze the garment carefully and check
different factors that affect the SAM. SAM of a product varies
according to the work content or simply according to number of
operations, length of seams, fabric types, stitching accuracy needed,
sewing technology to be used etc.

But still many of us inquire for approximate SAM values for basic
products, like Tee Shirt, Formal shirt, Formal trouser or jacket. An
estimated SAM helps in capacity planning of the factory, calculating
requirement of machineries and even helps to estimate CM (cut and
make) costing of a garment.

Garment Manufacturing Process

However, for better understanding I will suggest you first to read

articles How to calculate SAM for a garment?. SAM is a short form
of standard allowed minutes. It means a normal operator can
complete a task within the allowed time (minute) when he works at
100% efficiency.

Standard minutes (SAM) of few basic products have been listed down
with its SAM range according to work content variation. In actual
cases garment SAM may go outside of the limit depending the above
factors. This list will be updated time to time adding more products.

3. Factory Average Efficiency: This data is collected from

industrial engineer. Or calculate it with historical data. Suppose
average line efficiency is 50%. Read the article - How to calculate
efficiency of a production line or batch?

Calculation of production capacity (in pieces): Once you have

above information use following formula to calculate production

Garment Manufacturing Process

Production capacity (in pieces) = (Capacity in hours*60/product

SAM)*line efficiency

For Example: Suppose a factory has 8 sewing lines and each line
has 25 machines. Total 200 machines and working shift is 10 hours
per day. Total factory capacity per day is 2000 hours (200 machines *
10 hours). If factory is producing only one style (Shirt) of SAM 25
minutes and used all 200 machines daily production capacity at 50%

= (2000*60/25)*50% Pieces
= (2000*60*50) / (25*100) Pieces
= 2400 Pieces
[Note: Production will vary according to the line efficiency and during
learning curve or in the initial days when style is loaded to the line]

Having knowledge of the capacity in Production (capacity) planning

is normally done based on sewing capacity. other processes (internal
or external) is also very important. Otherwise planner may fail and
will not be able to meet the dead line. Other departments such as
Cutting room capacity, Finishing room capacity, Washing Capacity
and capacity of the value added jobs.

4.4 Calculating Line Efficiency

Like individual operator efficiency, efficiency of a production line or batch or section
is important for a factory. Daily line efficiency shows the line performance. To
calculate efficiency of a line for a day, you will need following data (information)

Garment Manufacturing Process

from the line supervisor or line recorder.

1. Number of operators how many operators worked in the line in a day

2. Working hours (Regular and overtime hours) how many hours each of the
operators worked or how many hours the line run in a day
3. Production in pieces How many pieces are produced or total line output at the
end of the day
4. Garment SAM What is exact standard minute of the style (garment)

Once you have above data you have to calculate following using above information -
a. Total minutes produced by the line: To get total produced minutes multiply
production pieces by SAM
b. Total minutes attended by the all operators in the line: Multiply number of
operators by daily working hours.

Now, calculate line efficiency using following formula:

Line efficiency = Total minutes produced by the line/total minutes attended by all

For example, refer following table. Data calculation formula has been given on the
header row of the table.

No. of Workin line output Garme Total Line

Operat g nt Minute Efficien
or hours (productio SAM Total produc cy (%)
(A) (B) n) (D) minute ed (F/E*10

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(E=A* (F=C*D
(C) B) ) 0)
48 8 160 44.25 23040 7080 30.73
48 11 240 44.25 31680 10620 33.52
34 8 300 25 16320 7500 45.96
35 11 400 25 23100 10000 43.29
35 11 329 25 23100 8225 35.61
34 8 230 25 16320 5750 35.23
34 8 200 35 16320 7000 42.89
35 11 311 35 23100 10885 47.12
34 11 340 35 22440 11900 53.03

4.5 Calculating Operator Efficiency

In apparel manufacturing, skills and expertise of a sewing operator is being presented

in Efficiency term. An operator with higher efficiency produces more garments than
an operator with lower efficiency in the same time frame. When operators work with
higher efficiency, manufacturing cost of the factory goes down.

Secondly, factory capacity is estimated according to the operator efficiency or line

efficiency. Hence, efficiency is one of the mostly used performance measuring tools.
So how do you calculate operator efficiency in factory? To calculate operator
efficiency you will be needed standard minutes (SAM) of the garment and operations
your operator is making. Use following formula and calculate operator efficiency.

Garment Manufacturing Process

Efficiency calculation formula:

Efficiency (%) = [Total minute produced by an operator/Total minute attended by him

Total minutes produced = Total pieces made by an operator X SAM of the operation
Total minutes attended = Total hours worked on the machine X 60 [minutes]

Example: An operator was doing an operation of SAM 0.50 minutes. In an 8 hours

shift day he produces 400 pieces. So according to the efficiency calculating formula,
that operators overall efficiency
= (400 x 0.50) / (8 X 60)*100%
= 200/480*100%
= 41.67%

On-Standard Operator Efficiency:

Operator efficiency can be expressed in more specific ways, like On-Standard
Efficiency instead over-all efficiency. An operator may be attending all hours in a
shift but if he has not been given on-standard work to do in all hours, he will not be
able to produce minutes as per his capability and skill level. In this case, to know
operators on-standard efficiency following formula is used.

Operator on-standard efficiency (%) = Total minute produced /Total on-standard

minute attended *100%

Total minutes produced = Total pieces made by an operator X SAM of the operation

Garment Manufacturing Process

Total on-standard minute attended = (Total hours worked Loss time) x 60 [minutes]

Example: An operator was doing an operation of SAM 0.50 minutes. In an 8 hours

shift day he produces 400 pieces. Operator was idle waiting for work for 30 minutes
and his machine broke down for 15 minutes in hours shift. So according to the
efficiency calculating formula, that operators on-standard efficiency
= (400 x 0.50) / {480 (30 +15)}*100%
= 200/435*100%
= 45.98%
The above example clarifies that if an operator sits idle during shift hours his overall
efficiency will go down.