Lean Management in Apparel Industry
Tushar Govind Soliwal
Department of Textiles (Fashion Technology)
DKTE’S Textile and Engineering Institute, Ichalkaranji, India
Intern at Textile Learner
The concept of lean is introduced by the Toyota Production System (TPS) in Japan. Lean is a systematic approach to achieving the shortest possible cycle by identifying and eliminating waste from the process and offering continual improvement. Lean always focuses on identifying and eliminating waste (non-value-adding activities) and effective utilization of all the activities that add value to the process and final product. So by the implementation of lean management in the production process: Companies can achieve higher production rate, there’s an increase in productivity and profitability of the product, reduction of lead time and improves overall efficiency. Lean offers lower cost with improved quality throughout the process. Lean management is a business strategy and it’s adopted by many textile industries, especially garment and apparel industries. In the apparel industry, there exist various types of waste in their departments, like sewing, cutting, and packaging departments. This serious waste will add more cost to the production system and arise various defects in the final product. So with the help of lean techniques apparel industry can eliminate this waste and provide high-quality products to their respective customers.
2. Types of Waste in Apparel Industry:
The prime objective of lean management is to increase productivity and eliminate waste and non-value-adding operations from the production process. So it is essential to identify and eliminate this waste existing in the apparel industry. After implementing lean in manufacturing techniques industries achieve high quality at low cost and shorter lead time and other competitive advantages also. 5S and KAIZEN are famous lean tools that are used to identify and eliminate value-adding and non-value-adding activities. Value-adding activities: Value-adding activities are those activities that add value to the product and that transform or change the form of the material. The non-value adding activities: The rest of the activities that cost but do not value the product are called non-value adding activities. In some cases these activities are also essential for example Transportation of cutting bundles to the stitching department; don’t add any value to the product but it is necessary.
There are mainly 7 types of waste called MUDA (a Japanese word) also known as TIMWOOD, these Wastes are:
1) Transformation: When work is transferred from one place to another place, this process does not add any value to the product. So lean management identifies how to reduce transportation, where transportation can be eliminated, and where the transportation time can be reduced. Materials should be delivered to their location at a required time. Lean requires the materials to be transferred directly from the suppliers to the location in the assembly line where they will be used. This is called Point of Use Storage (POUS).
2) Inventory: Inventories of a factory represent those items that are either in the process of manufacturing or ideal resources (material) of a factory or materials in stock. This waste can be minimized by starting one-piece flow in the sewing department, reducing fabric inventory by proper utilization of fabric.
3) Motion: motion at workstations is found due to poor training of workers in working methods and habit of working in traditional ways. In industries where there are engineering departments to design workstation layouts, operators may use motion due to poor workstation layouts. Motion waste is minimized by reducing packing and folding time in the packing/finishing department, analyzing and eliminating high-risk areas, and locate at the fabric in the fabric store department by proper labeling and style.
4) Waiting: This waste is defined as people or things waiting around for the next action. For example, Merchandisers wait for buyer’s approval and supervisors wait for final instructions and go ahead for quality approvals. Waiting is a visible waste in the manufacturing department wherein operators and employees create nothing they just wait for work or due to other reasons. It comprises various reasons that are responsible to cause a delay in sourcing materials, cutting delays due to delay in fabric approval, and further consumption approval too. In the apparel industry waiting for waste can be overcome before bulk production is started in the fabric cutting section.
5) Overproduction: This waste can be simply defined as doing or making things that are not required now. Overproduction generates excess inventory. This waste generally occurs in cutting departments and sewing operations. Overproduction causes in balance in the work process. By setup up the visual link between the cutting department and production department, overproduction waste can be reduced.
6) Over-processing: This is a waste of doing a task or adding features to the product that are not required from the customer. In the apparel industry, some operations may not be essential to give the final look and construction. Example: multiple checking in the finishing process. Lean techniques eliminate over processes, reduce panel inspection, eliminate repacking and it can also be reduced by implementing a self-checking process.
7) Defects: Producing defects while pattern making or another process there is a waste of money and effort. The lean management industry aims to produce garments for the first time. This is a dangerous waste among all the 7 types of waste because it causes other waste like re-transportation, reworking, and refinishing of that defective product. By proper fabric inspection and trim inspection will reduce lead time in processing, by creating and analyzing proper fabric reports and using good quality fabrics and other materials.
This waste also can eliminate by, effective application of industrial engineering, study workflow, skilled and train operators, smooth sewing operations, proper production planning, proper implementation of lean tools and techniques, right time oiling to sewing machinery, and sufficient numbers of working aids by doing so industry get results in the production process in the apparel industry.
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3. Lean Manufacturing Tools for Garment Industry:
Apparel manufacturers try to produce quality products at reliable service. Lean tools help the apparel industry to identify and eliminate waste therefore there will increase the profitability and productivity through all the processes, increase the quality level at the lowest cost rate, and these tools implement industry to focus on effective and efficient manufacturing processes for the Market. Productivity is directly proportional to the Time of manufacturing the product for this, the industry should eliminate all the wastes (Muda) and focus on a steady workflow. Using lean tools, it is possible to achieve waste elimination and simultaneously map the current status of an industry. Some popular and important tools of lean are explained as follows:
3.1 5S- Visual Management:
5S- Visual management is a methodology that was derived from Toyota Production System (TPS) in Japan. Principles of 5S helps various of departments of apparel industry for monitoring, evaluating and drive the aspect neat and clean and also it helps to identify important and needed things from government warehouse.
The five principles of 5S Methodology:
- SEIRI (Sort): It means to separate necessary tools equipment and instructions from unnecessary items. The aim is to keep only what Is needed and eliminate the other. Sort helps to arrange the things according to their importance and characteristics function in each department.
- SEITON (Set in Order): This principle is used to arrange and identify necessary items, tools, and processes. It decreases the distance of workflow.
- SEISO (Shine): It’s related to cleanness and shine. It’s maintained by proper Inspection of the workplace and by eliminating dirt or dust of the surrounding. It helps to increase the machine life of sewing machinery and other mechanical equipment. Rack, shelves, and store areas required to keep clean in between the departments. So Shine keep clean and healthy environment in between the departments.
- SEIKETSU (Standardize): All the Principles are required to maintain, and employees should make a habit of it. So standardization helps to make a habit of Sort, Set in Order, and Shine. So that to maintain the workplace in perfect condition. Standardize directly related to efficiency of apparel industry, therefore carryout properly.
- SHITSUKE (Sustain): Sustain and Standardize are almost similar principles, Sustain means to maintain the above techniques of 5S, It’s the most difficult principle to implement among all the other S’s. Its implementation is required skills and trained employees. And these employees have to guide others to build and follow all the 5 Principles.
Benefits of 5S: The principles of 5S are very important and helpful for any apparel industry to increase their production process and reduce workflow problems. These principles will help to build calibration to operating the equipment and to conduct other processes. It maintains and increases the quality of products, by eliminating perilous waste, so there is betterment in safety in the workplace. Prevent defects and materials breakdown while processing. The principles like Sort and Set in order increase the floor space, reduce lead time and time for searching the tools or equipment’s and there is minimum material handling.
Kanban is another important lean tool, which focuses on gradual improvement by the push to a pull system. Kanban is a Japanese word, it means to signal or card. This is a system that is manual or automatic. It is a workflow management method, designed to visualize the work, maximize efficiency and become more agile. Pull system is consists of various signal methods like triggering replenishment such as minimum/maximum levels, digital cards, electronic services, and physical signals. These various signals are used to delivering the operational equipment. The pull system limits the amount of work in process, whip that, that can be in the system at a given time. This system manages an oriented system which are operated by receiving signals when more than one production control is required. Kanban is mainly used to deliver needed things to the right place at right time.
Benefits of Kanban: The Kanban tool is mainly implemented to eliminate inventory and overproduction wastes and to uncover other hidden waste in the process. Kanban improves the flexibility, production scheduling, and empowerment of employees. It reduces unnecessary paperwork and all integrate the process into one another, so there will be a decrease in production cost and less inventory of raw material, sub-assemblies. Kanban simplifies the process and increases the output in the production line.
3.3 JUST IN TIME:
JIT stands for Just in time. It is a system of manufacturing that makes and delivers the right quality of goods at the right location, It supplies the needed quantity of items at the proper place when there is a need for it. Taiichi Ohno introduced JIT in Toyota Production System (TPS) in Japan. It is also known as the best pillar of lean management. Because it focuses on the reduction of inventory as well as other waste. It always seeks continuous improvement and aims at creating a manufacturing system that is responsive to satisfy the market needs (customer demands). Inventory can be reduced by the best possible utilization of resources that are available at disposal so, there is zero material handling and defects, less setup time, and lead time. Material department and finance department have responsibilities to control the inventory records.
Benefits of JIT: Just in time focus on customers satisfaction and increase internal efficiency. Industry gets the highest quality product at the lowest cost and shorter lead time, after implementing just in time properly. It is one of the lean tools which eliminate all the seven types of waste (Muda) and deliver the best possible quality of product at the lowest cost. JIT utilizes all the resources and machines and reduces floor space. So there is improved quality and flexibility.
4. Future of Lean Management:
The concept of lean management is not only applied for production but, also for the whole management system. At present this concept of lean is not only limited to the Toyota production system but many companies and business sectors like Ford, Parker Hannifin, John Deere, Caterpillar, Textron, Intel, Kimberly, Clark Corporation, and Nike successfully implemented lean methodology successfully. Other service sectors like banking, financial services, hotels, restaurants, health care and public sectors, air transport, government sectors, logistic sectors, and supply chain like construction are enjoying the benefits of lean management.
The percentage growth in the manufacturing process after implementing lean is as follows: Lean management Increase efficiency by 66%, reduction in inventory by 80%, decrease space of production by 61%, shortening the time of transition from raw material to finished product by 70%, time reduction by 96%. And other benefits like improvement in quality and level scheduling, which decreases the number of complaints, increases communication, creates a healthy environment between employees it results in an increase in innovative ideas for improvement. So, lean thinking is not only beneficial for manufacturing industries but it can be applied to any industries or business models, industry like coal and mining, plastic, pharma, MSME (Management Economic Simulation Exercise), fabrication and textile industries.
Nowadays, Apparel Manufacturing unit faces a lot many challenges worldwide due to lack of efficiency and plenty of wastage. But several apparel industries in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh achieve improvements and great success through lean tools and techniques. In modern industries without lean implementation, it is very difficult to identify and eliminate the waste from the process. So Lean techniques can be successfully applied in apparel industries to increase productivity, profitability, improve employee morale, customer satisfaction, increase the internal and overall efficiency of the system/company and eliminate waste.
 Application of Lean Manufacturing to Higher Productivity in the Apparel Industry in Bangladesh, by Md. Mazedul Islam, Adnan Maroof Khan, Md. Monirul Islam
Implementation of Lean Tools In Apparel Industry To Improve Productivity & Quality”, Current Trends in Fashion Technology and Textile Engineering, ISSN:2577-2929 Vol. 4 No. 4. By, MOTHILAL B. & PRAKASH C.
 Prospect of implementation of lean manufacturing for apparel Industries in Bangladesh. American Journal of Engineering Research (AJER). By, AfsanaHaque, Talha Jubair, Kamruzzaman Khan, Sharjah Mohammad Saif.
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Founder & Editor of Textile Learner. He is a Textile Consultant, Blogger & Entrepreneur. He is working as a textile consultant in several local and international companies. He is also a contributor of Wikipedia.