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Reducing changeover time in garments sewing line


In the readymade garments industry, order quantity is getting smaller day by day. Consumers are asking more fashionable products in low price and buyers are reducing their budget on same style & introducing new styles frequently to satisfy their customer needs.

Reducing sewing
Figure: After achieving Quick Changeover (QCO) if it can be turned into ‘Zero Changeover’, the annual profit increment will be more visual in the next phase.

To mitigate the scenario factories are facing an additional nonproductive time to adopt new styles. To keep the production lines running, factories need to face changeovers more frequently than before and a huge amount of nonproductive time to adopt new styles is hitting on factory’s profit line. Reducing the new style adopting time or changeover time became a top priority for them.

Factories are also trying to reduce lead time because ‘Time Is Money’. On the other hand, loss time is the biggest waste rather than any waste in production oriented factories. The Department of Industrial Engineering & Production Planning are more focusing on that.

Other than collecting quality raw materials on time, getting production sample approved, Sewing section is the point where it consumes a major time where delay is occurred due to changeover known as ‘layout changeover time’. So if the Industry can turn their ‘usual layout change’ into ‘Quick Changeover’, the amount of lost time will be reduced.

After achieving Quick Changeover (QCO) if it can be turned into ‘Zero Changeover’, the annual profit increment will be more visual in the next phase. The 3M (Man, Machine, Materials) management & proper application of lean manufacturing methods can make Zero Changeover (ZCO) time possible.


A team was formed to work on reducing changeover time. The team documented the baseline as bellows:

Factory: RobinTex – Bangladesh German Joint Venture

Building Name: CBL-2

No. Of floor: 03

No. Of Line: 18

No. Of Machine: 400

No. Of Manpower: 600

Style: Basic Style of Robintex

  1. Machine: All the sewing machine condition found good. These were set up at the starting of the factory time. During changeover if any machine shortage is noticed, maintenance team bring machines from other buildings. Maintenance guys take actions if any problems faced during changeover. There are some idle machines as well on the floor.
  2. Manpower: Manpower of the factory is enough for achieving the production. Attendance of the worker found pretty good. Operator starts work after starting time. Usually some operators work as helpers, sometimes few helpers work as operators. New operators’ performance found not good enough. There is no operation training for new process. Industrial Engineers are doing work study on the floor. There is no tracking on Quick Change over Time (QCO).
  3. Method: The method found as usual & manual. Production department is planning in their head and acting according to that. Operators enjoy their leisure time due to mismanagement of trims and accessories input. No checklist and pre-activities are being followed to reduce the changeover time. The analyzer gives operation bulletin after layout so operation bulletin cannot be followed during or before changeover. Multiple clashes were noticed between production & industrial engineering department due to lack of unorganized process structure.

Result of baseline:

Serial No. Line Date Previous Style Last Garments Output  Time (BST) New Style First  Garments Output  Time (BST) Total changeover  Time For One Garments
1. CBL-2/2/1 19/09/21 O1.05pm 02.37pm 1 hr 32 min
2. CBL-2/3/2 19/09/21 04.17pm 05.48 1 hr 31 min
3. CBL-2/4/2 20/09/21 10.21am 11.55am 1 hr 34 min
4. CBL-2/3/6 21/09/21 10.00am 11.37am 1 hr 37 min
5. CBL-2/3/2 21/09/21 11.55am 02.36pm 1 hr 41 min
6. CBL-2/2/4 21/09/21 05.00pm 6.30pm 1 hr 30 min
7. CBL-2/4/1 23/09/21 02.15pm 04.00pm 1 hr 45 min
8. CBL-2/3/5 23/09/21 10.12am 11.50am 1 hr 38 min
9. CBL-2/4/5 25/09/21 03.08pm 04.30pm 1 hr 22 min
10. CBL-2/2/2 26/09/21 05.02pm 06.37pm 1 hr 35 min
11. CBL-2/4/3 27/09/21 8.38am 09.57am 1 hr 35 min
12. CBL-2/3/4 27/09/21 11.37am 01.45pm 1 hr 31 min
13. CBL-2/2/5 28/09/21 4.30pm 6.00pm 1 hr 30 min
14. CBL-2/3/3 29/09/21 9.15am 10.50am 1 hr 35 min
15. CBL-2/4/6 30/09/21 11.00am 1.45pm 1 hr 45 min
16 CBL-2/3/1 30/09/21 2.39pm 04.15pm 1 hr 36 min
 Total Hours = 25.28 (Hour). Average Changeover Time = 1 hour 34 minute

*CBL-2/2/1 (CBL-2 = Comptex Building-2 | 2= Floor No. | 1= Line No.)

*BST = (Bangladeshi Standard Time)

Some notes from this result sheet

  1. Basic style SMV is 01.00 to 05.00 (T-shirt, line card 3pcs etc.)
  2. Working Hour 11
  3. Time 8.30 am to 8.30 am
  4. Learning Carve For Day-1 = 50%, Day-2 =55%, Day – 3 = 65%….

Analyzing the baseline, the team planned to improve the situation by taking below initiatives:

The Proposed Action, Planning Adjustment, Revised Methodology & Development key activities set for Zero Change-over Time (ZCO):

  1. First hour hit : Need to ensure all operators & helpers presence on the floor at 8.25 am & line should start on exact starting time at 8.30 am so that we can achieve 1st hour production. For that we have to make an attendance sheet and monitor it properly. Responsible department -IE, Production & Admin.
  2. Ensuring experienced manpower on the floor: Industrial Engineer should recruit new operators measuring their efficiency level and it should match with running line efficiency. No helper should work as operator & No operator should work as a helper. It’s a huge talent waste and has an impact in quality and production. Responsible Department – IE & Production.
  3. Preparation for Upcoming Style: Approved sample, trims card, production file should be prepared for upcoming style before the input date. Responsible Department -IE, Production & Quality.
  4. Prepare Constructive Potential Operation Bulletin (OB): When exact data of upcoming styles are informed, the analyser & IE team should prepare operation bulletin. Responsible Department- IE & Planning.
  5. Layout discussion with relevant team: Critical issues or challenges of new styles to be fed in the line should be discussed on & collaboration with production team, technical team & quality team is required. Responsible Department- IE, Production, Technical & Quality.
  6. Critical operation management: It’s a major duty to find out upcoming critical operations & select operators for these operations. If operator need training, they should get training. Cross training can be arranged on daily basis in overtime. Responsible Department- IE, Production & Quality.
  7. Machine requirement: Machine requirement is a mandatory pre-requisite for QCO. Machines should be ready to work on the floor according to OB & it should be done minimum one day before. Machine functionality should be checked prior to insert in line. Responsible Department-IE.
  8. Equipment: Folder, Guide, Presser Foots and Patterns (Sewing, Marking & Iron) should be made available and functional by mechanic. Responsible Department- IE & Production.
  9. Conducting PP Meeting: It is must to arrange a pre-production meeting before starting any layout. This collaboration & co-operation will help any factory to reducing their time & effort. Responsible Department- IE, Production, Technical, Quality & Store.
  10. Ensuring all accessories & trims are in house: After PP meeting all the obstacles & conditions should be noted & should be solved. According to the meeting it should be ensured that all accessories & trims are in house before layout. Responsible Department- IE, Production, Technical, Quality & Store.
  11. Cut Kit: Before line feeding, need to ensure that all cut panels are ready and inspected according to size set. Responsible Department- IE, Production & Quality.
  12. Using best possible line layout: After analyzing all previous data & discussing with production & quality department need to apply best possible line layout. Responsible Department- IE & Production.
  13. MP allotment: Before starting line layout need to ensure all Man Power (MP) in line as per Operation Bulletin (OB). If there is a short in MP or gap in skill, necessary steps should be taken. Responsible Department- IE & Production.
  14. Reducing line layout time: During layout each process with machine setup and quality ensuring should be followed up and time should be recorded. Responsible Department-IE & Production.
  15. Method: Proper method Implementation on critical process need to ensure. Responsible Department- IE & Technical.
  16. Proper workstation & line balancing: To ensure a balanced line, Industrial engineer should properly conduct work study, production study, hourly production monitoring & solve the problems on the floor. Responsible Department – IE.
  17. Setting individual operator target: It should be pre fixed and communicated to operators. Sometimes adjustments might require after setting up the line. Responsible Department -IE & Production.
  18. Bottleneck removing: Bottleneck is a huge burden for any production process or QCO. Need to remove bottlenecks by taking actions such as motion study, time study, machine speed, adjusting motor RPM & motor pully etc. Responsible Department- IE & Production.
  19. Learning Curve: Newly set up line should have a challenging learning curve for better performance. Incentive scheme should be applied on achieving learning curve. Responsible Department – IE & Production.
  20. Input Monitoring: Continuous Feeding to the sewing line from cutting and store should be ensured. Responsible Department -Cutting & planning.
  21. Quality: Inline quality inspection in regular interval at needle point and necessary steps should be taken. Responsible Department- Quality Assurance.
  22. Awareness: Production team need to take some initiatives like motivation, regular meeting for absenteeism, line target, quality issues etc. which will be effective for QCO and ZCO as well

Implementation of productive visual Communication:

  1. Red-Green Flag: It’s an interesting & productive visual management of QCO. Mainly there are 2 flags. The red flag should always be with the latest start operation of the new style and the green flag should be with the latest finished operation of the old style. The greater the distance between the two flags, the harder it will be to ZCO, and the shorter the distance, the faster the ZCO will be.
  2. Layout Check List White Board: At the beginning of each line there should be a white board. Style name, buyer name or number, feeding date, responsible people etc. should be written at the beginning of this check list.

And the checklist should be look like –

Checklist Content Ready/Done (Yes/No)
Operation Bulletin
Layout discussion meeting
Machine availability/Functionality checking
Trims and accessories
Folder, gauge, guard, presser foot, etc.
Man power allotment
Line layout
Cut panel
Special machine
Approval sample
Pattern, iron Pattern etc.


  1. QCO & ZCO Sheet:  this is the most important sheet where line layout start time, line layout finish time, total time for line layout, total time for machine setting, previous style input area finish time, old style last garments output time, new style 1st garments output time etc. should be written so that the team can feel the responsibility and ownership.

Result: We tried our best to implement as many as points discussed above precisely and here is our achieved result

Serial No. Line  Date Previous Style Last Garments Output  Time (BST) New Style First  Garments  Output Time (BST) Total changeover  Time For One Garments
01 CBL-2/2/4 26/10/2021 09.30 am 9.30 am 0 min 0 hr
02 CBL-2/4/1 26/10/2021 10.56 pm 10.56 pm 0 min 0 hr
03 CBL-2/3/5 26/10/2021 12.54 pm 12.54 pm 0 min 0 hr
04 CBL-2/4/5 26/10/2021 09.01 am 09.01 am 0 min 0 hr
05 CBL-2/2/1 27/10/2021 02.12 pm 02.13pm 1 min 0 hr
06 CBL-2/3/2 27/10/2021 08.21 am 08.21 am 0 min 0 hr
07 CBL-2/4/2 27/10/2021 04.40 pm 04.42 pm 2 min 0 hr
08 CBL-2/3/6 27/10/2021 09.11 am 09.11 am 0 min 0 hr
09 CBL-2/3/1 28/10/2021 08.25 am 08.25 am 0 min 0 hr
10 CBL-2/4/3 28/10/2021 04.30 pm 04.30 pm 0 min 0 hr
11 CBL-2/3/6 28/10/2021 10.30 am 10.30 am 0 min 0 hr
12 CBL-2/2/5 30/10/2021 03.43 pm 03.45 pm 2 min 0 hr
13 CBL-2/3/4 30/10/2021 12.28 pm 12.28 pm 0 min 0 hr
14 CBL-2/4/3 31/10/2021 10.25 am 10.25 am 0 min 0 hr
15 CBL-2/2/2 31/10/2021 08.33 am 08.35 am 2 min 0 hr
16 CBL-2/4/5 31/10/2021 02.17 pm 02.17 pm 0 min 0 hr
Total Hours = 0 Hour, 7 minutes     Total Average Changeover Time = 0 hour 0 minute

*CBL-2/2/1 (CBL-2 = Comptex Building-2 | 2= Floor No. | 1= Line No.)

*BST = (Bangladeshi Standard Time)

Some notes from this result sheet

  1. Basic style SMV is 01.00 to 05.00 (T-shirt, line card 3pcs etc.)
  2. Working Hour=11
  3. Time 8.30 am to 8.30 am
  4. Learning Curve for Day-1 = 50%, Day-2 =55%, Day – 3 = 65%….

So, it’s proven that changeover time can be minimized to zero.

Conclusion: Though changeover time is minimized, still there are rooms for improvement. Achieving peak efficiency after changeover is another great area to focus on.

If anyone has any feedback or input regarding the published news, please contact: info@textiletoday.com.bd

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