Concept of ISO 9000, Six Sigma and Lean Production for Apparel Industry

Last Updated on 28/10/2021

Concept of ISO 9000, Six Sigma and Lean Production for Apparel Industry

Shabuz Biplob,
Apparel Professional,
Cell Phone: +8801511779988


So many methodologies have been created to rule the manufacturing well. Amongst them, ISO 9000, Six Sigma and Lean Production System are very popular in apparel trade. Almost apparel companies are following them anyhow. Some are following one, three, more than three or other methodologies.

ISO 9000:
ISO, International Organization for Standardization, develops & publishes international standards. It is founded on 23 February 1947, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The three official languages of the ISO are English, French, and Russian. According to the ISO, its name in different languages has different abbreviations (IOS in English, OIN in French for Organisation internationale de normalisation), the organization adopted ‘ISO’ as its abbreviated name in reference to the Greek word isos which means equal. Now they have members in 163 countries worldwide. They have published over 21000 International Standards covering almost all aspects of technology and manufacturing. ISO 9000 refers to establish, document, implement and maintain a quality management system and continually improve its effectiveness in accordance with the requirements of this International Standard.

The methodology is known as ‘Plan-Do-Check-Act’ (PDCA) can be applied to all processes. PDCA can be briefly described as follows.

  • Plan: Establish the objectives and processes necessary in accordance with customer requirements and the organization’s policies.
  • Do: Implement the processes.
  • Check: Monitor and measure processes and product against policies, objectives and requirements and report the results.
  • Act: Take actions for continuous improvement.

PDCA Cycle is presented below which is also called PDSA (Plan, Do, Study, Act) Cycle, Deming Cycle, Shewhart Cycle & Control Cycle.

PDCA Cycle
Fig: PDCA Cycle

Six Sigma:
Six Sigma is a set of techniques and tools for process improvement. It was introduced by engineer Bill Smith while working at Motorola in 1986. Jack Welch made it famous to his business strategy at General Electric in 1995. To achieve Six Sigma, a process must not produce more than 3.4 defects per million opportunities. That means, we conduct a task one million times, we make mistakes 3.4 times only. It consists of two methodologies named DMAIC and DMADV. The Six Sigma DMAIC process (defines, measure, analyze, improve, control) is an improvement system for existing process. The Six Sigma DMADV process (define, measure, analyze, design, verify) is an improvement system used to develop new process or product at Six Sigma quality levels. This is also called DFSS (design for Six Sigma).

We can briefly explain the methodology DMAIC as follows:

  • Define the goals of the improvement activity.
  • Measure the existing system.
  • Analyze the root cause of the problem.
  • Improve the system.
  • Control the new system.

Seven basic quality management tools for process improvement / Six Sigma are given below:

1. Cause and Effect Diagram (also called Ishikawa Diagram or Fishbone Diagram): It helps to identify many possible causes for a problem and sort out ideas into useful categories. Causes are derived from brainstorming. Causes are designs as follows:

Fishbone Diagram
Fig: Cause and Effect Diagram

2. Check Sheet: A prepared sheet for collecting and analyzing data.

Check Sheet
Fig: Check Sheet

3. Control Chart: Graphs used to study how a process changes overtime.

Control Chart
Fig: Control Chart

4. Histogram: Graphs used for showing frequency distribution, or how often each different value in a set of date occurs.

Fig: Histogram

5. Pareto Chart: A Pareto chart combines both bars and a line graph. The Pareto principle provides a theory maintaining that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. The purpose of the Pareto chart is to highlight the most important among a set of problems.

Pareto Chart
Fig: Pareto Chart

6. Scatter Diagram: This is also called Scatter plot, Scatter Graph, Scatter Chart, X-Y graph. A Scatter Diagram shows the relationship between two sets of data. In following Example, each dot shows Defects vs Months.

Scatter Diagram
Fig: Scatter Diagram

7. Flow Chart / Run Chart or Stratification: These tools represent a process, workflow or algorithm. The steps are represented by a series of boxes and then connected with arrows. Flow Chart is ideal for communicating a step by step process to others.

Flow Chart
Fig: Flow Chart

Six Sigma Calculations:
Six Sigma can easily be calculated using a Six Sigma calculator. To figure out Six Sigma, we need define total opportunities, total defects & DPMO (Defects per Million Opportunities).

Six Sigma Calculator
Fig: Sigma calculator

Six Sigma Table / Scale:

Six Sigma Table
Fig: Six Sigma Table

Lean Production or Lean Manufacturing is a management philosophy derived mostly from the Toyota Production System (TPS). The core idea is to maximize customer value while minimizing waste. This is a systematic method for the elimination of waste (Muda) within a manufacturing system. The term was first introduced by John Krafcik, a Quality Engineer in his 1988 article ‘Triumph of the Lean Production System’. Lean Production is therefore focused on getting the right things to the right place at the right time in the right quantity to achieve perfect work flow. Lean Manufacturing tools mainly work to eliminate three types of waste: Muda (valueless work), Mura (unevenness) and Muri (overburden).

Muda is categorized into seven. These are:

  • Transport : The movement of product between operations and locations.
  • Inventory: The work in progress (WIP) and stocks of finished goods and raw materials that a company holds.
  • Motion: The physical movement of a person or machine while conducting an operation.
  • Waiting: The act of waiting of a machine or a person for something.
  • Over production: Over producing product beyond customers order.
  • Over processing: Conducting operations beyond customer requirements.
  • Defects: Product rejection and rework.

Taking the first letter of each waste, the acronym ‘TIMWOOD’ is formed to remember the 7 Muda well.

Many tools or techniques are used at Lean Manufacturing. Amongst them I would mention 10 useful tools for apparel probationers below.

1. Quality at the Source: In this process, each operator checks his / her own work before the part or product is sent to the next step in the process.

2. Bottle Neck Analysis: Bottleneck literally refers to the top narrow part of a bottle. Bottleneck is a process in the production line which reduces the performance of entire production.

3. Root Cause Analysis (RCA): Root cause analysis (RCA) is a method of problem solving used for identifying the root causes of problems. Cause & Effect Diagram and 5 whys techniques are mostly used for Root Cause Analysis. 5 Whys is the technique to determine the root cause of a problem by repeating the question ‘Why’? Each answer asks to the basis of the next question. To record the countermeasure, we can use a concern strip to ensure that the countermeasure is fully implemented; that the problem is followed up; that the countermeasure works; that the problem doesn’t occur again and that the countermeasure is locked into standard.

Concern Strip
Fig: Concern Strip

4. Standardized Work: This is a documented description of every process (with responsibility, how to do and estimated time). This procedure of manufacturing captures best practices.

5. PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act): An iterative methodology for implementing improvements.

  • Plan: Establish plan and expected results
  • Do: Implement plan.
  • Check: Verify expected results achieved.
  • Act: Review and assess and do it again.

6. Kaizen (Continuous Improvement): The Japanese word ‘Kaizen’ simply means ‘change for better’. Kaizen aims to eliminate wastes & continuous improvement.

7. 5s: It eliminates waste that results from a poorly organized work area. See 5s below:

  • Sort: Remove unnecessary items.
  • Set in Order: Organize remaining items.
  • Shine: Clean and inspect work area.
  • Standardize: Write standards for above.
  • Sustain: Regularly apply the standards.

8. Andon: Andon means ‘Signal’. Andon Process starts when a problem happens in production. Andon is faster to solve a problem. This is a visual aid which alerts where action is required. For example, a flashing light in a production line that indicates one of the operators has stopped working due to any problem.

Andon Process
Fig: Andon Process in Production

9. Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE): Overall Equipment Effectiveness is a metric for measuring productivity & quality level. There are 3 OEE factors, each of which makes a different type of loss. They are Availability, Performance and Quality. The following calculations are mostly applied to indentify OEE factors percentage.

Availability percentage = run time / planned production time X 100
(Planned production time – stop time = run time).
(Shift time – break time = planned production time)

Performance percentage = (ideal cycle time X total count) / run time X 100
Or, Performance percentage = (total count / ideal run rate) / run time X 100
(Ideal Cycle Time is the fastest cycle time for a process in optimal environment)
(Ideal Run Rate means highest output in per minute)

Quality percentage = good count / total count X 100
(Total count – reject count = good count)

OEE percentage = (good count X ideal cycle time) / planned production time X 100
Or, OEE = availability X performance X quality.

10. Six Big Losses: Six categories of productivity loss are almost experienced in garment manufacturing process. This is a very effective way to categorize equipment-based losses. These are Breakdowns (unplanned stops), Setup (Changeovers), Small Stops, Reduced Speed (slow cycles), Startup Rejects, Production Rejects. They are aligned with OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) & provide an excellent target for improvement actions.

OEE vs Six Big Losses
Fig: OEE vs Six Big Losses

You may also like:

  1. How to Calculate the Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) of Apparel Industries
  2. Line Balancing and Bottleneck in Garment Production Line
  3. Industrial Engineering Formulas for Textile Students and Professionals
  4. Line Balancing and Bottleneck in Garment Production Line
  5. How to Determine Seam Strength in Garment Industries
  6. How to Calculate the Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) of Apparel Industries
  7. Method Study in Apparel Industry – A Systematic Approach
  8. Benefits of Work Study in Garments Industry
  9. Application of Lean Manufacturing in Garment Industry

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