Finishing and Quality Departments:

(An analysis of apparel manufacturing SMES in the NCR region)


Finishing is the last step of the garment production and all mistakes made during the process accrue and become a huge problem at this stage. The Quality Departments also have huge improvement potential and require special attention.  This article illustrates the priorities of the finishing and quality departments.


The analysis is based upon the survey conducted by the Methods Apparel Consultancy. Ten factories were rated and 300 people were assessed during the surveys in November-December, 2007 commissioned by the Garment Technical Cooperation (GTZ) in association with Okhla Garment and Textile Cluster (OGTC) to analyze current systems and advise ways to improve overall productivity. The survey was done in two parts, the first analyzing the factory and the second evaluating the personnel.


A comprehensive checklist was developed which covered every department and each point on the checklist was awarded a value of 1 to 5 points, 5 being considered an International benchmark. The points awarded were added and a percentage score was calculated. Priorities for improvement for each department were established.


Finishing department


The costs involved in this department are excessive in almost every factory surveyed, it is vital that this department is thoroughly investigated since there is a great potential to achieve a large financial saving.


The time taken to finish the garments is surprisingly high. Some of the companies are examining the garment as many as 5 times, and the number of repairs is excessive.


Finishing departments are over-staffed in most of the factories studied; the time taken to finish a garment is surprisingly high. Garments are being examined as many as five times and the repair rate in most of the factories is shocking. This is obviously driven by the fear of order rejection or re-works. Work content can be reduced by installing a proper work control system and a culture for quality product production.


Layout and control


The layout and work flow was generally poor and disorganized. Not one of the finishing departments have  adequate systems of control, the emphasis is only directed to delivery and not productivity, this is understandable in the present circumstances but must be re-thought since it is excessively expensive.


Finishing Time


Finishing times are excessive in almost every company; with the average finishing time per garment varying from 11.2 minutes to 57.6 minutes.



Bundle System / Operator control


None of the finishing departments use bundle systems for control, nor do any of them have any form of scientific performance measuring techniques. There are no monitoring controls except to record the number of repairs

 

Repairs


Repair records show very high repair rates as much as 30%-40%. Dirty marks and spots are major contributors although many of the garments have already been washed. Much of this can be avoided by keeping the factory neat and clean Spotting defects are as high as 50%.


Recommendations


  1. Bundle control system should be introduced washed garments can be re-constituted and control maintained.
  2. Establishment of standard times and efficiency monitoring systems are essential.
  3. The process sequence and work flow to be investigated.
  4. A thorough investigation of repair rates and their causes.
  5. Properly planned workplace layouts to be introduced.
  6. The factors creating stains and spotting problems to be investigated and remedies found.


Quality department


Quality must be built-in; it cannot be examined into the product, this is a most important lesson and should be clearly understood. Although there is a 100% quality check in the sewing floor, an excessive number of faults find their way into finishing. Operators do not fix their mistakes but leave them for examiners to find resulting in a high repair level. None of the companies are aware of the "Cost of quality."


The emphasis placed on quality of the product is good, spec sheets and PP samples are available on the production floor. The tables and forms used by the examiners are satisfactory although the collected data could be better utilized if the information was shared between the end-line and roving quality personnel.


Repairs


Repair rates are frightening giving a mixed picture varying from 5% to 60% on the production floor. In some companies it was found that the repair rate in production was 5% and in the finishing dept it was 40%. Emphasizing the fact that the proper quality control systems are not in place in production departments and complete emphasis is on inspecting quality rather than producing it.


PP meetings


PP meetings are held in most factories, not as a factory requirement but as the buyer's requirement. Many times PP meetings are held after the fabric has been cut or even after production has started.


Roving quality control


Roving quality control procedures are either nonexistent or done incorrectly. Roving quality control can have a dramatic effect on repair rates if installed and run correctly, the author has seen factories many years ago which had no end line checkers and no thread trimming personnel, the quality was all controlled through the proper use of roving quality procedures.


Wherever roving quality procedures are being used the quality levels indicate a reduced repair level. If this system is followed, the outgoing quality of production will be improved and the high level of repairs and rejections in finishing room can be reduced.


Quality team


Quality Teams are not completely independent of the production department, it is important to have clear reporting procedures and to keep the quality team independent of production management. Checkers in the line are also a part of the quality team. The, supervisor is responsible for the output but quality decisions must be made by the quality management.


Recommendations


  1. Properly organized roving quality procedures must be implemented.
  2. Regular quality meetings with all concerned, reports should be shared and analysed.
  3. Quality team to be independent of production department.
  4. Investigation into the amount of repairs found in finishing department.
  5. A co-coordinated effort made to reduce repair rates.
  6. The cost of quality must become a major management information tool.


(Roger Thomas: The author is an International apparel consultant)



Source: AEPC Weekly (http://aepc.fibre2fashion.com/vol1issue61/ )