Ways to Improve Productivity in Garment Manufacturing Unit

The International Labor Organization (ILO) defines productivity as the ratio between the “output of work” and the “input of resources”. Productivity is directly related to the use of available resources. This means that productivity will decrease if resources are not used properly. On the other hand, productivity is linked to the creation of value. This indicates that high productivity will be achieved when the activities add more value to the produced products.

Moreover, the opposite of productivity is waste, which must be eliminated to improve productivity. Different people view productivity differently. For an economist, productivity is the ratio between output and inputs. For an accountant, productivity is measured in financial ratios and budget variances. For behavioral scientists, productivity will be in labor utilization (man-days), and for engineers, productivity will be in capacity utilization, output per man-hour, or l labor efficiency. So, many productivity measures are available in an organization and people do not know how to measure the productivity of an organization.

Most businesses care about efficiency rather than productivity. It can be defined as net output growth due to efficiency changes and technical changes. The most common mistake a business makes is using synonyms for productivity to measure productivity, which refers to the amount of a product or services produced. Because of this confusion, people tend to believe that increased production means increased productivity. This is not necessarily true. Productivity is a relative concept, meaning it cannot go up or down unless a comparison is made over time. These five relationships can improve productivity:

Output and input increase, but the increase in input is proportionally less than the increase in output.

The output increases while the input remains the same.

The output increases while the input is reduced.

The output remains the same while the input decreases

The output decreases while the input decreases even more.

Productivity reduces unit manufacturing cost by efficiently using all resources and reducing waste. A lower unit cost means an increase in profit level. The organization can again reinvest the excess capital to expand its business, thereby generating new jobs and increasing the salaries of employees, which improves their purchasing power. Increased productivity can pave the way to a better economy. Figure 1 explains the same thing.

Today, apparel manufacturing organizations are under tremendous pressure to introduce new products quickly, as product lifecycles are getting shorter and shorter. Due to inherent differences in style and fabrics used, combined with numerous manufacturing processes, increasing demands for quality, uniqueness and individuality in garments, as well as the need to shorten manufacturing times and delivery and reduce costs, the planning of manufacturing activities plays an important role. essential to position itself within the competitiveness of the market.

Factories turned to productivity to increase the profit margin and reduce the cost of manufacturing. Machine and labor productivity increases when organizations produce the required/more quantity with existing resources.

Every job contains two components: effective work content and ineffective work content. Actual work content or actual time is the basic work content required to produce this product. Inefficient labor content or inefficient time in this activity consists of labor content due to poor product design, labor content due to inefficient manufacturing method, labor content due to failure of direction and work content due to inefficient workforce.

Inefficient work content due to poor product design consists of poor product design, lack of standardization, incorrect quality standards, and design requires disposal of excess material. This can be reduced through product development and value analysis. By implementing specialization and standardization, an organization must do market research, consumer research, and product research before designing a product.

An ineffective management method consists of the wrong machine being used, a process not being used correctly, wrong tools being used, poor layout resulting in waste movement, and poor working method of the operator. This can be reduced by effective production planning, which ensures correct selection of machines, tools and equipment and ensures correct operating procedure.

Inefficient work content due to weak management consists of excessive variety of products, lack of standardization, design changes, poor planning, lack of raw material, plant breakdowns, poor facilities condition and frequent accidents. This can be reduced by creating marketing and specialization to minimize downtime due to a wide variety of products, and by improving working conditions to enable workers to work regularly. This will also reduce downtime due to accidents.

Inefficient time under workers’ control consists of absences, tardiness and idleness, careless work and frequent accidents. This problem can be solved by a strong personnel policy and an incentive policy which helps to reduce absenteeism and neglect. It is also necessary to provide safety training, which will reduce downtime due to accidents.

To improve productivity in the garment industry, different techniques can be used depending on the production system of the organization. Here are some ways to improve productivity:

1.R&D for clothes: Garment research and development during sample development helps ensure the best use of machinery and work aids during the mass production stage. It will also help to identify and plan the skills required.

2. Motion Study: Performing a motion study will help standardize the method of performing a task and correct faulty motion by the operator. If the motion study is combined with software based on the Time Measurement Method (MTM), the accurate Standard Allowable Minute (SAM) can be calculated.

3. Ergonomic workstation: The ergonomic workstation improves the interaction between man and machine. This involves considering operator safety and designing a workplace to minimize material handling, thereby reducing operating cycle time.

4. Use of work aids: Guides and backrests are devices that allow the operator to perform his task efficiently with less effort. It also helps maintain consistent seam quality.

5. Reduce change over time: To minimize style change over time, the SMED principle should be implemented. This involves identifying internal activities (which can only be performed when the machine is stopped) and external activities (which can be performed while the machine is running) and trying to convert the factors internal to external factors.

6. Layout with minimum displacement: A method study must be made to identify the best possible layout, which reduces transport time. The best line layout should be identified based on the product categories.

7. UBT sewing machine: Using the automatic trimming sewing machine helps to reduce substantial thread wastage and cycle time, which will increase the quality and production capacity.

8. Line balancing: Line balancing aims to maximize operator utilization and reduce bottlenecks given the available skill matrix of workers. In the line of balance, the work flow is smooth, thanks to which there is no waiting time. It allows an equal distribution of work between the operators of a line and avoids overproduction.

9. Sewing line supply required: Flawless and precise cutting must be performed so that the required feed is reached in time. To avoid overproduction at different stages of production, a Kanban system can be implemented.

10. Real-time data: For rapid action in a workshop, different types of real-time information are needed, such as hourly production, line balancing, absenteeism, WIP (work in progress), batch tracking, line quality performance, failure, etc. should be taken as soon as possible. Otherwise, the effect increases over time.

11. Quality control points: Repairs and scrap lead to significant productivity loss in a garment manufacturing setup. To check this, SQC (statistical quality control), Andon and online quality inspection must be installed.

12. Supervisor Training: Supervisors are front-line managers, so they must be trained to develop soft skills and communication skills. They must be trained in fundamental management skills and they must understand the fundamentals of industrial engineering such as the operating bulletin, the skills matrix, layout, capacity study, line balancing, processing time, etc.

13. Operator training: Operators are the most valuable resource in the garment manufacturing industry. Organizations need to understand that training is not a cost but an investment. Operator training increases the skill level of the operator, which increases line efficiency and reduces the cost of quality.

14. Motivation of the operator: Operators are a crucial part of improving productivity. Employee motivation usually depends on various factors such as work culture, HR policies, benefits, working conditions, etc. In garment manufacturing, operator motivation comes from extra reward, so some incentive programs should be designed for their extra effort.

Michael O. Stutler