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Reducing Fit test and Production (PP) Approvals Delay of Garment Production.

ABSTRACT

This project aims to reduce Fit test and Production (PP) approvals delay of garment production. Fit samples and PP samples are being rejected and the approval process is getting delayed due to the traditional way of sample making; poor sample room management; inadequate information flow among buyers, merchandiser, and sample room personnel; poor follow up with sample room personnel and buyers. Besides sending samples to the buyer and getting sample comments from buyers needs lots of time which affects the sample approval process. The project team would see if a virtual sample can be established to minimize the total approval time. Buyers can comment on the virtual sampling as well to forward the production process.

KEY WORDS: Production (PP) approvals delay, Virtual Sample Making, Shipment delay, Virtual 3D Sampling Machine

Introduction:  The main problem is the delay of PP sample. PP Sample is the short name of the Pre-production sample. A pre-production sample is one type of development sample. PP sample is made with actual fabric, trims and accessories of the style. As per buyer instruction PP sample must be prepared by the vendor in production line, but this does not always followed by vendors. Most cases PP sample is made in sampling department under the guidance of merchandiser and sampling master. Even many times production team does not aware about the PP samples that are made in their factories. It happens in the sample department of RMG industry. At first buyer sent a specification sheet to Merchandiser then pattern of garments according to the specification sheet is made. Then proto sample is made and submitted to the buyer by air or ship depends on buyer requirements. If the proto sample is approved order will be confirmed. Then trims and accessories sent to the buyer for the approval. After the approval of trims and accessories then lab dip is sent to the buyer. Then fit sample is made and sent to the buyer for the approval. After the approval of fit sample then PP sample is made for the buyer approval. If PP sample completes all the requirements then buyer request for the bulk production. That’s means a lot of process has to be completed before the approval of PP sample. That’s why Fit test and Production (PP) approvals T&A plans are delayed. If it is possible to make a virtual sample then we don’t need to make a physical sample. That’s why we save our resources and minimize our time.

Background: Normally merchandisers prepare a plan of the order in a spreadsheet by listing down the key processes in first column and planned date of action for each process in the next column. This planning sheet is popularly known as time and action calendar (TNA). Once TNA calendar is made, then it can be easy for merchandiser list down their daily ‘to do list’ and taking it one by one. As per TNA schedule processes can be executed on timely basis to track whether an order is on track or it will get delayed.

Fig 1: Example of a T&A

In order to make TNA below mentioned information must be available:

– Process flow of an order with the list of task which need to be performed

– Production capacity of cutting, sewing, washing and finishing

– For sewing – batch wise and product wise capacity (production per day per batch)

– Lead time of activities, e.g. raw material lead time, sampling lead time, etc.

– Shipment date or planned ex-factory date

In TNA, planned cutting date (PCD) and ex-factory date these are the two most critical dates.

 

Hypothesis: If possible to make a virtual sample then we don’t need to make a physical sample it can save resources from the excess quantity of samples. To maintain regular communication on buyers form the proper instruction of samples and information of the concerned department quickly. To maintain priority selection for which sample make first and how much and maintain quality. Should be used software to make use of managing sample room and also proper follow up  T&C. Local approval also helps us to save time and getting sample comments from the buyer.

 

Objectives: Virtual samples will make our job a lot easier, a lot of manpower to create. There will be a lot of savings on our resources. To prevent it from being too late to make our PP samples. So the cost will be minimized to make samples, since it is a virtual sample, we will be able to send it to the buyer very soon, which will save a lot of time. The approval process will be much faster. Then we can go into bulk production in a very short time. If we can arrange local approval, it will also save us a lot of time, so we can go for the PP sample first and then bulk production.

 

LITERATURE REVIEW

Design/methodology/approach:

A work sampling technique is used. Relevant reports (1978‐2004) are studied to give the basis and methodology of the technique. In accordance with work sampling technique, the operations to be observed in a sewing room are defined, the number of observations and observers required for each day and the procedure for making observations are determined and the distributions of work flows are calculated. It is found that 72.7 per cent of working time in a general sewing room was spent for productive activities and 23.2 per cent for personal and unavoidable delay allowances.

Practical implications:

In clothing production, garment components are assembled through a sub-assembly process until they are gathered into a finished garment. The production process involves a set of work stations in each of which a specific task in a restricted sequence is carried out (Hui and Frency Ng,1999). Many factors such as the properties of fabrics and human emotions will affect the performance of operatives that ultimately will cause variance on the task time. Personal and delay allowances for the apparel industry are very important. Delays can be broken down into work elements which can be readily measured as fixed or variable and these measurements are then combined into work standards.

This study was carried out in sewing section of a garment manufacturer company and work sampling technique was used to determine the allowances (Kiremitci, 1999) and it was chosen due to mentioned advantages in Introduction. Work sampling technique is simply the act of observing an operator or operations at random time and then noting whatever was going on at the time the operator or operations was observed. For example, a particular machine being down could be noticed while walking through the sewing plant. If the operator is working (sewing, for example), the tally sheet should record any activity of the operator during that time, whether he/she is working, or is in any other state or activity. In setting up any work sampling study, there are six important steps to be considered. These steps are:

(1) Accurately define the project or problem(s).

(2) Determine the economic accuracy required.

(3) Define the operation to be observed.

(4) Determine the number of observations and observers required for each day.

(5) Determine the procedure for making observations (starting place of tour, length of tour, manner of recording observations and when questions of operators or of supervisors should be asked).

(6) Explanation of the work sampling procedure to all concerned (Barnes, 1980;Pape, 1991; Stohlman, 1978).

The operations are determined to be observed for distribution center activities. The groups of determined operations are presented

G, the productive activities which belong to flow intervals in the measurement period.

Vsv, unavoidable delays that shows additional assignment or breakdown times which belong to flow intervals in the measurement period.

Vp, personal allowances that is caused by individual purposes or self-requirements which belong to flow intervals in the measurement period.

N, avoidable delays. It is additional operations caused by the operator which belong to flow intervals in the measurement period.

Number of observations and tour periods are calculated after the flow types are determined. We assumed that a confidence level of 99 per cent and an accuracy of^1 per cent are satisfactory. Also assuming that the binomial distribution is used as the basis for determining error and then the formula for determining the number of observations required (n)is Equation (1) (Barnes, 1980):

Where p: percentage occurrence of an activity or delay being measured; f0: degree of confidence; Za/2

In preliminary (Brisley, 1992; Pape, 1991) studies for the sewing room, P=30per cent and f1=1.0 are assumed at the measurement of distribution time ratios. Thus, Za/2 =2.575 is derived from the normal distribution table and then n is found14,000 from the Equation (1). The work sampling period is defined as 8 weeks by taking 2 days in a week. According to this, daily number of observation nT calculated using Equation (2):

About 30 work systems consisting of 20 lock-stitch machines and ten over-edge stitch machines are chosen for the observation in the sewing room. Thus, tour number to be realised in a day RT is calculated using Equation (3):

Random time are used to determine the tour periods. Working hours, resting periods and noon hour are taken into account for determination the time periods. Tour plan for the sewing room has been determined.

 

IMPLEMENTING 3D VIRTUAL SAMPLE MAKING CONCEPT TECHNOLOGY:

The advantages of 3D virtual sampling:

One of the most significant advantages of 3D virtual sampling is its ability to speed up the product development process. When it comes to sampling development, 3D technology offers apparel brands the ability to modernize their sample-development processes which in turn saves time and money and helps brands respond quicker to customer trends and buyer demands.

Virtual sampling challenges the traditional ways of product development. This enables brands to increase overall efficiency and lower production costs, all while meeting quality standards and specifications consistently.

3D sampling software from EFI Optitex being used to produce and on-screen sample, adjusting the size and fit of a garment in both 2 and 3 dimensions:

It can be noticed that making adjustments to the garment is immediately displayed in 3D. Interestingly, the software is also advanced enough to be able to display different materials and their unique characteristics, for instance, one fabric may drape differently over the body than another, and this can be displayed for a realistic view

Furthermore, designers can save 3D virtual samples of garments as an image and from any perspective using the software. There are no limitations on the colors, prints, sizes, etc. that can be experimented with, which makes it easier for buyers to select the preferred version of the design. The sample can easily be emailed to the necessary stakeholders, which allows designers, fit technicians and executives to assess the sample before it has to be cut and sewn from cloth.

Doing this means manufacturers do not have to spend money and time producing a number of prototypes in different sizes, or using different fabrics that may never be used.

It can often be found that a garment requires corrections, rework, or adjustments which requires a new version of the product to be cut, sewn and shipped off to the buyer. 3D virtual sampling eliminates the need for physical samples, which can vastly reduce unnecessary time and money spent on rework. Virtual sampling takes care of any necessary changes that need to be made before the garment needs to be sewn, saving on fabric costs, shipping costs as well as model costs. It has the ability to positively impact all facets of a supply chain if implemented correctly.

3D virtual sample (Image Source: Optitex)
Fig 2: 3D virtual sample (Image Source: Optitex)

 

Big companies like Hugo Boss and Adidas have been using 3D design successfully, it makes the case increasingly compelling. Brands such as Under Armour, Target, Coach, Victoria’s Secret, Hugo Boss, Maggy London, Phillip Van Heusen, Nike, Abercrombie & Fitch, and more have already started making use of 3D virtual sampling technologies, while many more brands are expected to do so in the near future.

Benefit Breakdown of 3D Virtual Sampling for Softlines

  • 3D modelling speeds up the production process, taking a concept to production in just weeks instead of months. Apparel brands are under pressure to be ready to go to market before or at least at the same time as their competition, so being able to shave weeks or even months off the design process by avoiding waiting time to create different iterations of samples is invaluable.
  • Computer designed 3D samples use the exact pattern and model’s body measurements to display an accurate representation of the garment’s style and fit
  • Producing a virtual sample takes a short time. Postage of fabrics and samples to and from suppliers to customers, and the waiting time for them to be created by hand and arrive, is all but eliminated.
  • Customers can demand changes to the fit and style of garments at any time and these can be sampled straight away, allowing more production flexibility.
  • Sampling costs vastly reduced. Many samples can be made using different fabric types, textures, colours, and prints; not to mention sizes. Making all of these as physical samples could be cost prohibitive.
  • Computer-generated images of garments can be used in brochures, on websites, and in marketing materials without needing to take photographs of physical samples.

Lack of skills to use 3D design

Credible 3D solutions in the market need patterns to arrive at the final 3D image; however, many fashion companies no longer have internal pattern makers and instead outsource the work by sending off technical packs to their partnering factories who will then create the prototype sample. The challenge is deciding who the development of the 3D content should be tasked out to within the organization. While creative and tech designers exist within a company, they may not have the necessary skills needed.

 

Conclusion:

There are definite benefits which brands can experience from implementing 3D virtual sampling, various challenges still exist. Whether these benefits outweigh the challenges, and whether investing in 3D technology will be worthwhile depends on each brand’s unique goals and challenges.

Virtual samples will make our job a lot easier, a lot of manpower to create. There will be a lot of savings on our resources. Companies with turnover of above US$50 million probably have the clearest ROI.

The software can still improve more. The available software still experiences some difficulties regarding personalization and needs to improve on some aspects such as collision detection which will help designers create a garment’s layering effect, which is one of the biggest components missing from virtual garments. That way designers can develop puffs, pleats, padding, etc. that they would in real life.

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENT: The author is very much thankful to all the employees of 4 Stitch Knit Limited. The author highly acknowledged Md. Suruj-Zaman, Lecturer (Apparel), Department of Textile Engineering, National Institute of Textile Engineering & Research (NITER) for his unprecedented support. The author also acknowledged Bhaskar Ranjan Saha, Managing Director, The Analyst Limited. Huge gratitude to the Textile Today family specially Sanjoy Saha, Manager, Industry Engagement & sub-editor, Textile Today for his tireless monitoring and instruction.

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

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