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Operational excellence in the RMG manufacturing

An operational plan provides a clear picture of how a team, section or department will contribute to the achievement of the organizational goals. Any organization can tackle the priorities successfully with a strong operations plan. Because a complete operational plan maps out the day-to-day tasks that required to run a business. This will be successful when operational excellence is achieved by every member of an organization.

Operational excellence in apparel manufacturing
Figure: Readymade garments (RMG) operation should be driven by the planning team that defines capacity, projections and cash flow plan for the organizations.

Readymade garments (RMG) operation should be driven by the planning team that defines capacity, projections and cash flow plan for the organizations. Marketing, finance and supply chain team are to sync with the plan and find detailed marketing, supply chain and cash flow plan to satisfy the master plan.

model of defining area that give priority based on availability of time, machine & people
Figure 2: A model of defining the area that most important to give priority based on the availability of time, machine and people

Top management is to drive the planning team and set the strategy, tactics and timelines for execution. A well-defined strategic plan is key to find all detailed tactics for execution.

Importance of strategic plan

In today’s trend of RMG business, while speed is the only key to success, Bangladesh RMG sector is facing big challenges for negative business growth this year. In this regard, a strategic plan is key to success to reduce overall cost and deliver goods in the desired period.

This is an exercise in gathering and documenting information about the past, present and future of business. Strategic planning helps determine where to go over the next few years, how to go to get there and how to recognize when arrived. That means specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and the time-bound plan is important in a micro and macro level. Because most of the organizations and teams fail because they don’t assign a top-notch resource to put together an implementation plan.

Establishing an action roadmap with timelines

There are many steps to go through to create a solid executable plan. Unfortunately, quick planning is not the best solution. There are times when you need to step forward and doing proper planning and implementation in order to create greater business success. An action roadmap is a visual representation of strategic planning items. It includes high-level agenda items, initiatives and key elements. It includes the key areas that the RMG sector will focus on in order to achieve its goals and objectives.

Steps to go from strategic plan to action plan

Macro plan: A macro plan is examining external factors that affect a business such as manufacturing and production processes. The goal of the macro plan is to understand how to grow the business by doing production in a relevant period. This includes basically 3 key areas for greater production plan –

  • Defining factory weekly capacity of cutting, sewing and finishing by optimum product mix based on physical layout facilities. The capacity in SAH should be analyzed financially to justify positive IRR and Cash flow.
  • Analyzing and categorizing monthly allocations by product mix, by wash cycle and process, fabrications, SAM and allocation of styles to different units considering weekly shipment capacity of the Unit/Factory.
  • Defining 5M requirements in advance for, 3 months in the Macro Planning stage and drive HR to manpower, maintenance for machines and management for financial investment if any.

Micro plan: Micro planning is a small area of planning with specific purposes such as day to day working area and defining the combinations of man, machine and people. This includes basically 3 key area –

  • Preparing detail plan of execution and focusing shipment load, based on allocations in cutting, sewing and finishing.
  • Defining targeted efficiency, daily VAP process send-receive plan (Embroidery, print, wash, etc.)
  • Planning cut date for each style and prepare PCD tracking to define backward linkage activities in detail.

Table: A model of weekly shipment load and detail production plan

weekly Dec, Jan (28-2) Jan (4-9) Jan (11-16) Jan (18-23) Jan (25-30)
Total Qty 158546 64598 237461 125772 43086
Sew Qty 135100 51031 172666 52665 8641
Balance Qty -26338 -14720 -67919 -73494 -34478
Wash Send 131810 50215 166615 41611 7790
Wash Send Balance -3290 -816 -6051 -11054 -851
Wash Req 109695 46825 135662 26981 5962
Wash Req Balance -22115 -3390 -30953 -14630 -1828
Shipped Qty
Week Dec, Jan (28-2) Jan (4-9) Jan (11-16) Jan (18-23) Jan (25-30)
Buyer 01 TTL 22735 0 3604 0 0
Sew Qty 23300 0 3733 0 0
Sew Balance 0 0 0 0 0
Wash Send 23232 0 3733 0 0
Wash Send Balance -68 0 0 0 0
Wash Req 18810 0 3733 0 0
Wash Req Balance -4422 0 0 0 0
Shipped Qty
Buyer 02 TTL 27194 35100 170399 96666 19312
Sew Qty 27289 36072 151941 39684 4730
Sew Balance -479 0 -21314 -57113 -14528
Wash Send 26150 35958 147284 30230 4310
Wash Send Balance -1139 -114 -4657 -9454 -420
Wash Req 23164 35128 124421 23340 2514
Wash Req Balance -2986 -830 -22863 -6890 -1796
Shipped Qty

Pre-production tracking: Preparing PCD tracking and apply DMAIC to control PCD hit rate is a minimum of 95%. Preparing pre-production tracking and ensuring size set FPY (First pass yield) 95%.

Defining a final operation bulletin for bulk sewing and finishing in the pre-production stage along with feasibility analysis. This is the key to all other performances where most of the people don’t look into details usually.

Engineered workstation and manufacturing design: Industrial engineering is concerned with the optimization of complex processes, systems, improving and implementing integrated systems of people, money, knowledge, information, equipment, energy and materials. This includes basically 2 key areas for good planning-

  • Pre-production Engineering- to define detailed execution plan, methods, layouts and support systems like tools, folders, attachments, etc.
  • Production Engineering- to work on quick change over in sewing and finishing, control WIP and line balancing.

Big data management: Big data management is to ensure data quality and accessibility for business intelligence and analytics. This includes 3 key areas for better operational control –

  • The factory should have analyzed inventory reports with real-time tracking and analysis.
  • The factory must have a synchronized data tracking and analysis system from pre-production to the cutting stage.
  • The factory should have a supply chain tracking method in real-time to understand the challenges in advance and sync on the master plan. (This is where we are generally poor in managing).

Continuous Improvement projects and training: Continuous improvement is a never-ending cycle and an integral part of the Lean culture. Adopting a continuous improvement model and training is an excellent and cost-effective approach for tackling the most difficult challenges. This includes 3 key areas- –

  • Practicing KANO/FMEA/Kaizen events/5W1H models.
  • Continuous training on thread-needle-machines, organizational behavior and critical thinking.

Supports from management: Top managers may intake some innovative support system by practicing below as an example-

  • Attractive incentive program in different stages which is financially feasible for business growth to develop a win-win situation in the organization
  • Regular CSR, Health and safety initiative & team outing.
  • The periodical recognition system is highly effective for a high performing management team.

To summaries, the discussion of a well-set data tracking system is mandatory to track authentic data in every process and analysis in real-time. RMG is a business with huge SKU and multi mix matrix of small events (internal and external) where each process is vital for the entire value chain. Without proper data tracking systems, it’s impossible to know where to improve a consequently impossible to take the right action for improvements.

If you cannot express what you know in numbers, you do not know much about it; If you do not know much about it, Then you cannot control it; If you cannot control it, You are at the mercy of chance.

Dr. Mikel Harry Motorola

Before optimizing any process or doing any improvement tasks; below diagnosis is vital. A couple of simple questions need answers and analyzed internally and find the key are of optimization.

high-low Effectiveness, efficiency


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