Risk Analysis of new styles is done to identify the risk factors involved before production of the style. If done correctly, it can save huge money in terms of repairs, lost time, training and possibly second quality garments, reasons John Irvine, a veteran of 30 years in managing, consulting and mentoring the industry who worked in India with companies of repute like L T Karle and Texport Syndicate from 2003 to 2007.
I begin with glaring example of washed denim bottom program, where fabric had 6% difference in shrinkage of warp and weft. This was corrected for sampling but information was not transferred to production department. This resulted in disaster for initial production and 1.5 man-days were lost in rectifying the problem. This also led to extra fabric consumption due to recutting of the waistbands to amend mistake for already cut garment. This resulted in increase in fabric cost for the order as the fabric consumption was increased by 1.5 cm. Had we followed Risk Analysis before the start of production, we could have saved both on the fabric and lost days.
The moral of the above story is to formalize the work in the design or sample room first. This can be done by developing a simple system where responsibilities are clearly assigned to a person for every needed correction.
- Amendments, Availability, Size breaks, Matching points, Seam allowances, Notches, Grain line
- Latest amendment, Correct pattern, Grain line correct, Patterns fit together, Size breaks, Matching points, Seam allowances, Notches
It is important that a foolproof system must be made so that any changes or amendments that have been included later are properly recorded and made known to all. Also a person for this must be appointed who would be responsible for each action.
Similarly, if a clear communication is displayed in the form of a secure tag on fabric rolls by the fabric department, it can stop all quality problems arising due to improper laying and cutting of fabric and this will also save re-work.
|Department||Risk involved||Specified method||Person responsible||Date required||Action complete|
|Patterns||Shrinkage||Add 6%||Pattern master(name)||2.5.98||Done 1.5.98|
|Patterns||Grades||Check each size against measurement||Pattern technician||2.5.98||Late 3.5.98|
|Table 1. Communication, if displayed clearly, can help the fabric department improve quality|
Number of times I have observed in a factory that spreading operators, who were not much experienced, had spread fabric on grain for a flaired skirt. But garments made of such fabric were immediately rejected since the fall of the skirt went to one side. On inquiry, it was found that the goof up occurred as the fabric which was issued to cutting management, did not carry clear instructions. The correct method should have been to spread the fabric using snip and rip technique to square the grain, by either using hands or with the help of a machine. This again depends upon the fabric – its off grain pliability.
Risk Analysis can make it easy for production department or cripple them, whether it is fabric, methods, machines, bad labour assignment or controlling quality
Working with dyed fabric, the rolls should be issued batch wise with matching shades to the cutting department. Many a times, the cutting departments batch the fabric with different shades without tissue or separator which results in several shaded garments being produced. This leads to total rejection and hence loss of revenue. A special care has to be taken to batch together different shades with tissue or separators. The same method of communication should also be followed while handling trims.
The fabric department needs to ensure that clear information or instructions are passed on to the cutting department – regarding the nature, quality or the shade of the fabric concerned. Similarly, during cutting, stores should comply with the departments’ need to supply the fabric and trims on time, marker of correct width for optimum fabric utilization and consistency of plaids and checks.
The pointers mentioned below give an insight to the fabric and trim processes and its problems. Some may require immediate action while others may require total eradication.
Delivery, composition, plaid or check dimensions, defect rate, width, type of selvage, flat, crinkle or napped, shrinkage, colour fastness, shading issues, placement, labels correct information, quantity should be checked and information conveyed to the production department.
Similar to pattern and marker systems, we should address the fabric and trims problems too. The Risk Analysis System List (see box) highlights the other key processes in production departments needing control in Risk Analysis. To manage all these processes, resource allocation also requires equal attention.
1. Who needs to be involved?
2. How often do they need to be involved?
3. What criteria are set for the meeting?
4. How long for each meeting?
5. Results from each meeting?
There are two stages to study the above analysis:
1. At the sampling stage; and
2. Before production begins
Both these stages are quite similar in their structure with similar basic details, but it is the sampling stage which is more important and needs to be attended first because it is at this stage where all the costs are being decided for production. Risk Analysis can make it easy for production department or cripple them, whether it is fabric, methods, machines, bad labour assignment or controlling quality.
Making Risk Analysis system successful requires active participation from all departments like merchandising, industrial or production engineering, pattern and marker making, cutting, quality, training, mechanics, finishing, sampling and patterns, among others.
The communication between each department is very important and involves active participation of one member from each department. Some queries may still need to be answered before we start with the resources allocation like – How to go about and communicate this to everyone? Who will be involved in the process?
The systems are simple and which have been proven successful time and again.
- Firstly, there should be a pre-production meeting before the making of sample stage where major players from each department discuss any foreseen problems or risk areas. These problems are noted against an individual’s name.
- The consequences of the actions are monitored until samples are produced under standard methods to the customers’ satisfaction.
- After the samples are returned with comments, another meeting is held to discuss those changes, and the implications of the changes. This would repeat until the samples are corrected and finally approved by customers. And at times of major changes, it may lead us back to stage one.
- A final production meeting should be held when all is ready to go.
The examples given below show how Risk Analysis can pay rich dividends just by using the right communication system:
On a 112-minute cargo pant, it was seen that start up time (to full line performance) was two days when the above was done correctly. The setting on the line was easy and everything slotted into position, no adjusting of positioning was required, the attachments were all ready and machines capable of sewing the fabric were available on time. The work done previously at pre-production was paying dividends. Everyone knew the standards and the full process. Operators were positive and understood exactly what was required of them all due to the management doing their job correctly.
On the contrary, in the absence of ‘Risk Analysis’ an 18-minute sweat shirt start up time was observed to be two weeks. The major problem here was that many parts were off grain and cut work, although corrected to pattern, did not fit correctly. The operators tried to correct on-line but were not confident, so they worked slowly and still got it wrong. Various hiccups cropped up like repairs, garments not passing, operators getting confused, etc. Besides, the management did not work as a team and this aggravated problems further.
Such situations which seem dangerous are blown out of proportion and are indeed too simple to be tackled; only proper pre-planning is required. The above four stages help overcome such odd situations.
Each meeting should follow the normal steps of any business meeting where each individual does preparatory work in advance. It should be made mandatory that before the start of each meeting, the details in the ‘communication table’, made separately for each department and as mentioned above, are properly filled. This will help in limiting the meeting to around 30 minutes and making it as specific as possible.
It is important that for every style, a Senior Manager is selected as Chairman and he must stay as Chairman through all stages for all meetings. For first four meeting representation from all stated departments is required. It is up to these representatives to update their respective departments.
There must be regular meetings, may be one, two or even three, until good quality samples are produced. This eliminates any risk in production from design or method of make. All that is left is to make sure that the required resources are made available to production.
The last meeting should be held with the production team. This is possible only when there is total awareness of the style and the quality parameters on the product demanded by the customer by each department or process.
Risk Analysis needs to be made more extensive. More the effort spent at the beginning results in fewer problems when the style goes into production reducing downtime waiting on decisions or trims, etc. The objective is to ensure that each garment is made to every customer’s specifications with cost and quality parameters. Each department is involved at the start of the process and updated to any changes so that everyone knows the customer’s requirement. The problems are documented with the person responsible so getting answers to questions becomes so much easier. The small cost attached to Risk Analysis is an easy recovery against gains on the production floor.