Waste not, want not. Old proverbs die hard even when the business is contemporary, say Mausmi Ambastha and Anas Shakil.

Avoidable and unfortunate wastage in the cutting room can cut into profits and bottom lines more insidiously than one may imagine. Fabric, the entity accounting for more than 60 per cent of the manufacturing cost of garments, is virtually a gold mine. Are the consultancies even offering to save fabric? If some of them claim to save fabric, how are they living up to their claims?

One such example is Bangladesh, shouldering a major percentage of the global garment manufacturing. The country is seeing a huge influx of technology and consultancy services, from the introduction of the latest cutters to state-of-the-art multi-core CAD workstations and further on to top business process reengineering and downstream consultancy services. Bangladesh is making an impact in the industry. However, even such success can be tainted by wastage seeping resources out of the system.

There are several offered services, but unless the client is thorough, they can result in false promises. Let us understand how, as an industry, we have grossly misunderstood these much-hyped programmes:

1. Labour Reduction Services: They offer a 10-20 per cent reduction in total cutting-room workforce. They do the complete marker plan in advance based on fabric roll details and auto nesting for bulk markers. These claim to reduce the effort of planning the layers one by one and ensuring a smoother work flow with no hindrance. However, the uncertainties of the cutting floor pose so many hindrances that almost all claims fall flat.

The final plan is done way in advance and offers no flexibility to handle on-floor changes. So, as you complete the order, you end up making more markers. That results in extra man hours owing to re-works in CAD work station as well as cutting floor. The original plan that was secured in advance remains unused and what you actually follow is ad-hoc planning.

Now consider an out of the world, model factory setup where everything happens according to the original plan. Even then, you have no tool to utilise the end bits generated after cutting the main markers, leading to a good 5-10 per cent fabric wastage as small fabric lengths because no cut plan can predict the actual end bits which will be generated on the floor.