Productivity of Garment Industry: Various Ways to Improve It
Shubham Anil Jain
Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Limited
In today’s era, the functions and responsibilities of garment manufacturing firm, in the new millennium, has become more challenging. Because of increase in an international competition, it has created a lot of pressure on the apparel manufacturers to produce quality goods at reasonable prices and satisfy the customer. In this scenario, the management of apparel firms needs to focus on continuous improvement in factory. So, here Productivity data could be a useful way to measure the improvement rate and the level of performance of the factory. Productivity, in simple words, is the relationship between output and input. So, maintaining this output and input data is very important for managers in apparel manufacturing to identify the current productivity of factory and identifying the action plan to improve it.
2. Basic Concepts of Productivity:
Productivity is defined as the ratio of Output to Input. It is simply an index which highlights in how effective manner an organization is using its resources (inputs).
Productivity measurement can be used as both an index of input utilization and checking as to whether or not input utilization is growing faster than output.
When apparel industries are considered, the output can be taken as the number of pieces produced, while “inputs” are many such as the people, machines and time.
Suppose a garment factory produces 10000 pieces in a day with 1000 operator, then productivity is
Productivity = Output/Input
That is 10 pieces per operator are the productivity of the factory.
Measuring Output and Input:
When the inputs are considered, it can be labor, which is generally measured in physical units like minutes, hours, days or months. There are capital inputs like machines, which can also be measured in terms of time. In the garment factory, it is generally find that productivity is expressed in terms of number of garments produced per sewing machine per shift or per operator per shift. Inputs like labor, capital and energy can also be expressed in financial terms. As output and input are primary elements of productivity, it is very important that while measuring productivity, the output and inputs are explained clearly.
So, basically the types of productivity are:
Dr. Bheda through his book “Managing Productivity in the Apparel Industry” explained the various ways of measuring productivity. Productivity can be expressed in many ways but generally productivity is calculated as labor productivity, machine productivity or value productivity. These three ways of expressing shop floor productivity in an apparel industry.
Labor productivity – Output per labor (direct +indirect) in a given period of time (in pieces)
Machine productivity – Output per machine in a given period of time (in pieces)
Total productivity – Total value of output in a given period of time.
3. Factors Affecting Productivity:
There are so much reasons which can affect the productivity of garment industry. These factors can be divided into 2 categories which are as follows:
3.1 Controllable Factors:
Criticality, nature, style or type of product definitely affects the productivity, as simple design and less skill requirement can increase the productivity and vice versa.
b) Way of management:
This includes the organizational structure, work culture of organization, policy and procedures. A flexible and good management will clearly lead to higher productivity or vice versa.
c) Human tendency:
Productivity is generally dependent upon human level, tendency and skill. This again depends upon various factors such as education, training, experience aptitude etc., of the employees. Motivation and adaptable nature of employees will influence productivity.
d) Plant and equipment:
To improve the productivity proper and effective layout as to be done and proper tools are required. This can reduce the time of manufacturing and also increase the quality of the product.
e) Work methods:
By improving the methodology of work it can improve the productivity. Also by using work study, industrial engineering techniques, lean tools and training one can increase the productivity.
3.2 Uncontrollable Factors:
a) Government policies:
As the government policies and taxes are particularly governed by the authorities, which are not controlled by person and can’t be changed.
b) Socio-economic structure:
As per this is concerned it changes the purchasing power human being. Due to this their tradition, cultural value affects the overall productivity of the industry.
4. Various Ways to Improve Productivity of Garment Industry:
4.1 Using work aids, attachments and guides:
These are particularly some kinds of time-saving devices or tools that help the operator to do their work more effectively. It is seen that, when work aids are used correctly operation cycle time can be reduced more time than current cycle time. This is one of the best practices that industries should follow to improve the productivity. Along with improving the productivity, they are also very helpful in producing consistent stitching quality.
4.2 Training for Line Supervisors and operators:
As we know that, line supervisors are shop floor managers. So, each of them must be trained with some of the basic management and communication skills. Also, a supervisor should also be given the training regarding basics of industrial engineering like operation bulletin, skill matrix, workstation layout, movement, capacity study and theoretical line balancing etc. It is fact that operators are main resources in the garment manufacturing. They are the most valuable resource to the organization. So, the factory must work and highly focus on developing operator skill where required.
4.3 Data tracking system:
In today’s world data is the king. For the continuous improvement and corrective action on defects or failure one need data from the shop floor. Important data needed such as hourly production, line balancing, WIP, tracking bundles, quality performance of the line and many more. So, if right action is not been taken, the same problem may rise as time goes, which will affect the productivity. So maintaining data, utilizing it and finding conclusion from it is very important, that is why data plays very important role for improving productivity.
As we live in 21st century, where everything has been get automatic, so apply this in garment industry too. Using of automatic machines, systems, etc can improve the productivity as it will reduce the time of manufacturing. For example, auto trimmer sewing machine can be used, which will automatically cut the thread after stitching will save the time of manual trimming and help to improve productivity.
4.5 Operator motivation:
It cannot be denied that operator’s are the most crucial part of productivity improvement. If they are motivated and made happy to do their work then they will put their 100% efforts into the work which will lead to increase in the productivity. Operators motivation particularly depends on various factors like work environment of organization, HR policies, bonus on extra effort or achieving the target, and appreciation given to them. In garment manufacturing operator’s motivation come through extra money and by building good bond with them.
4.6 Ergonomically designed workplace:
For good interaction between the man and machine the workplace should be designed ergonomically. This means considering the operator’s safety and managing a workplace which should minimize the material handling, thus deducting the operation cycle time, which will ultimately improve the productivity.
4.7 Minimizing change over time:
As it is seen that when the style changes it took long time for setup, if it can be reduced, it will improve the productivity. To minimize this time, the SMED principle must be implemented. The internal activities (which is possible when the machine is stopped) and external activities (which can be done during manufacturing) need to find out and try to convert internal factors into external factors, this practice can improve the productivity.
4.8 Sufficient feeding to sewing line:
Defect free and efficient cutting need to be done so that required amount of quantity can be feed to the sewing line in proper time. Sometimes, in the garment industries it is seen that the production gets hampered due to insufficient feeding from its previous department, so this should be taken care of.
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4.9 Improving quality:
As we know that there is end of line checking at the last point of assembly line, where the pieces are checked for quality. If more no of defects are there then the pieces gets rejected, which affects the productivity. So developing such a process, which gives defects free garment will lead to low rejection and will definitely improves the productivity.
4.10 Conducting work study:
There is a good quote “Even best can be improved”. One can prepare a checklist for good methodology and movements. When the motion study is concerned it includes observing the operator’s movement and compares it with the checklist. If it is found that wrong movements or unnecessarily extra movement are done during operation, then correct it. By doing this one can minimize operation cycle time and can improve labor productivity up to 100%.
4.11 Follow IE techniques and tools:
By utilizing various IE tools and techniques like, 5S, Kaizen, Kanban, JIT and many more can improve the productivity of the factories, as all these techniques improves the production along with the quality. Due to this now many of the industries are leading towards the lean manufacturing.
4.12 Improve line balancing:
Line balancing is basically done to reduce operator’s idle time or to make maximum use of operators. When the line is balanced, work will flow smoothly and no time will be waste in waiting for work. Always go for selecting the operators for the operation matching operator skills and skill required. So if the line is balanced no bottlenecks will be created which will lead to increase in the productivity.
4.13 Eliminate idle time:
Always utilize the operator’s time as high as possible. As it clear that if there is idle time or waiting in a production process then this time will definitely delay the overall operation of the process and reduce the productivity. So to ensure the maximum utilization of the time, work for the elimination the idle time. There should not be any waiting time either for man, material, machine or anything.
4.14 Good working culture:
Everyone likes to work in good working environment. One can give their 100% capacity if the working culture of the organization is good. It includes cleanliness, pleasant environment, safety, etc. This all have direct impact on the productivity.
4.15 Arranging competitions:
In a factory arranging competitions between the lines will help to improve the productivity. It will create a kind of competitive environment, which will lead the operators to give their 100%.
For any organization paying attention towards the productivity is very important. Nowadays, it is considered as one of the important metric to measure factories performance, so it has to be given importance. As in the article it is seen that there are various reasons which can affect the productivity of garment industry, one should work on them and always try for eliminating it. As well as there are numerous ways through which productivity can be improved, which will definitely improves the industry name and profit to the company.
- Improving Productivity in Apparel Manufacturing: Back to Basics, by Apparel Resources, https://in.apparelresources.com/business-news/manufacturing/productivity-apparel-manufacturing-back-basics/
- What is Productivity? Definition, Example and Benefit of Measuring Productivity by Prasanta Sarkar, https://www.onlineclothingstudy.com/2011/02/what-is-productivity.html
- Ways to Improve Productivity in Garment Manufacturing Unit by, Nand Kishore Baraik, https://www.fibre2fashion.com/industry-article/9440/ways-to-improve-productivity-in-garment-manufacturing-unit?amp=true
- ‘Toyota Production System’ by Taiichi Ohno.
- Sickles, R., & Zelenyuk, V. (2019). Measurement of Productivity and Efficiency: Theory and Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781139565981
- Improving Productivity of Garment Industry with Time Study by, S.S Jadhav, G S Sharma, Amarjeet Daberao, October 2017. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322656789_Improving_Productivity_of_Garment_Industry_with_Time_Study
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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.