Even though the labor cost is cheaper in developing countries than in developed countries, due to the specific market nature of the garment industries, for example the short production life cycle, high volatility, low predictability, high level of impulse purchase and the quick arrest response, garment industries are facing the greatest challenges these days (Lucy Daly and Towers 2004). Before 1 980, customers tolerated long lead times, which enabled producers to minimize product cost by using economical batch sizes.
Later, when customers began to demand shorter lead times, the producers were not able to stand in the competitive market with their current production system. This is when the problem arose and companies started to look for changes to be more competitive. This pressure was further intensified with the elimination of quotas as of January 1 , 2005. To stay competitive, many domestic textile manufacturers have sought to improve their manufacturing processes so that they can more readily compete with overseas manufacturers. Garment industries in developing countries are more focused on sourcing of raw material and minimizing delivery cost than labor productivity because of the availability of cheap labor. Due to this, labor productivity is lower in developing countries than in the developed ones. For example, labor is very cheap in Bangladesh but the productivity is poor among other developing countries (Shadily and Seed Shall 201 1). Similarly, since the cost of fabric is a major factor of the garment cost, it is controlled by using CAD and CAM system for marker making and fabric cutting to save fabric consumption.
So now the worry is about labor productivity, sewing process improvement and making production flexible. Even today, industries are getting the same or more volumes (orders), but the number of styles they have to handle has increased drastically. Earlier, industries were getting bulk order so there was no need to worry, if the production line was set for the first time it would run for a month or at least a week or two. Now a days, the fashion industry is highly volatile and if the orders are not fulfilled on time, the fear for losing business is real.
Due to small order quantities and complex designs, the garment industry has to produce multiple styles even within a day; this needs higher flexibility in volume and style change over (Ashram and Christian 201 1). In some cases It has been observed that, in developing countries the garment industries are run as family businesses. They don’t have much confidence towards innovation over old processes. They are happy as long as they are sustaining their business. Since lacking of skilled personnel as well as sufficient capital to implement new technologies for improving productivity and flexibility, they are not moving towards new innovation. Because of all these things the industries have been running in a traditional way for years and are rigid to change (Gao et al 2009). The best Way to Cope with all these challenges is the implementation of lean manufacturing. This will serve the purpose of flexibility and save a lot of money by reducing production lead time, reducing the inventory, increasing productivity, training operators for multiple works, ND by reducing rework. 1. 2 RESEARCH PROBLEM The sewing section in a garment firm is a most problematic section as compared with other value chains . Most of the time, failure to meet delivery time is because of the sewing section.
Sewing operations (with respect to cutting and finishing) demands high skill in machine handling as well as material handling and more chances of producing defective products. So we have to give more attention to stitching tasks than fabric cutting and other value chains of garment production. Firstly, high WHIP in traditional type of batch production is the major problem aced by industries. Due to high WHIP, the throughput time as well as rework level is very high. In some cases, even though the operator has completed the sewing operations, the garment cannot be packed because of high WHIP.
Also, the defective parts are hidden inside the batches and it is very difficult to clear them while completing the final order quantity. This is the reason why garment professionals seem to work like fire fighters; because they are always in hurry for searching the missing garment pieces all over the shop floor. 4 Secondly, in batch processing (Progressive Bundling system), flexibility awards the style change over cannot be achieved easily; which is the current demand (Decreasing order size and increasing number of style) of garment industry.
To meet this requirement, production layout should be designed in such a way that it should hold minimum WHIP and should be flexible enough to the changing need of order. Thirdly, in batch process, since the operators are given specific jobs, they know one or few more operations only. Though he She may have good skill and can work more efficiently on one (allocated job only) operation; he ‘she cannot work immediately on some other operation. This is another need of today’s industry, because the fashion is changing frequently and the work force should be capable enough to cope with this change.
To achieve this operator should be multi-skilled; which can be served by regular training and converting long assembly lines into small manufacturing cells. Workload fluctuation and process balancing among operators is another problem in batch processing, because one operator is given one operation at a time. So the operator who is performing easier and low time consuming jobs can pile up a huge amount of WHIP whereas in the critical operations (operations which deed more time and skill) there is lagging which causes unbalanced WHIP between machines and the work load.
This research tries to address all these problems of garment industry by implementing lean manufacturing tools in an apparel firm. 5 1. 3 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES Lean manufacturing is an operational strategy oriented towards achieving the shortest possible cycle time by eliminating wastes. The term lean manufacturing is coined to represent half the human effort in the company, half the manufacturing space, half the investment in tools and half of engineering hours to develop a new product.
These benefits can be achieved only if the concept is religiously followed in the organization. The objectives of this research is as follows To understand the lean manufacturing principles and identify the suitable lean manufacturing tools which minimize the process wastage such as work in progress(Wall), through put time, change over time, product defects, production space and loss of productivity in garment industry TO restructure the sewing section such as machine layout, operational modification and operator skill improvement, which demand lean implementation.
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