Success stories of QMS in automotive and electronic industries are well documented. Success of Indian OEMs in automobile Component industry is largely attributed to TQM. However utility of these tools is often questioned in apparel industry. Having worked as a key member in implementing TQM in apparel industry, I am better placed to answer these anxieties. If low productivity, fire fighting, customer complaints, attrition, are issues with your business, then your organization needs to either tighten the existing QMS or implement one. In this paper an attempt is made to introduce and quantify practical utility of these tools in apparel industry.

Are QMS Suitable for labour intensive industry like Textile and Apparel ?

The answer is abundantly yes. Operations heads in apparel industry often express their inability to standardize the processes due to product variability, unpredictable market (fashion) trends etc. One of the leading aerospace industry implementing TQM is an excellent example to refute these claims1. The company sources components from vendors located across the globe. It is subjected to far more market risk compared to apparel industry, including design changes, interest rates, exchange rates, and commodity prices. The company meets its delivery schedule where the cost of delay is catastrophic. Interestingly it is not the process or product limitation but psychological factors that cause the reluctance among garment professionals in implementing TQM.

History of QMS

In the early days quality was restricted to inspection. In the 1920s statistical theory began to be applied effectively to quality control. Work of Shewhart, Deming, Juran, Dodge and Romig lead the foundation of statistical process control (SPC). In a paper given by Feigenbaum 2, the term total quality was used for the first time, and referred to wider issues such as planning, organization and management responsibility. Ishikawa gave a paper2 explaining how total quality control in Japan was different, it meaning, company wide quality control and describing how all employees, from top management to the workers, must study and participate in quality control.

QMS Defined

A set of co-ordinated activities to direct and control an organization in order to continually improve the effectiveness and efficiency of its performance. 3

Each Quality management systems (TQM, ISO etc) and its elements (Statistical process control, (SPC), Kaizen, Advance product quality planning and control (APQP), have a distinctive applicability. It is necessary that the approach selected suits current and future needs of the organization. SPC works towards bringing process under the influence of common causes alone by identifying & eliminating assignable causes. APQP focuses mainly on new product development / project execution. ISO 9000 currently includes three quality standards (ISO 9000:2005, ISO 9001:2000, and ISO 9004:2000). ISO 9001:2000 presents ISO's new quality management system requirements, while ISO 9000:2005 and ISO 9004:2000

Present ISO's new quality management system guidelines. All of these are process standards & not product standards and are developed by quality experts from around the world for use by companies that either want to implement their own in-house quality systems or to ensure that suppliers have appropriate quality systems in place.


1 (Anon, Boeing knows lean,2002, [online], Available from (cited March 2007.

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