Harnessing Productivity  in the Indian Apparel Industry Dec2019

Harnessing Productivity in the Indian Garment Industry: The Only Road Ahead

Garment manufacturing in India, being the part of a composite textile ecosystem itself has been the perfect catalyst for the growth of complete Textile Value chain. Being the final product in the farm to fashion story it drives the demand along the whole value chain.

Though being such a robust name to be reckoned with in the Textile world, India still lags on some of the fronts which is causing a loss in competitiveness. One of the key aspect that has been ignored by the whole Garment Industry at large is operational excellence and Productivity. Except a few corporate and organized players, the Indian Garment industry is significantly constituted of small scale, clothing factories who not only lack the finance and intellectual threshold but are also devoid of any understanding pertaining to significance of eliminating issues related to productivity and their operational mediocrity.

A ball park comparison of productivity levels of some leading garment manufacturing countries is given below:

Source: Industry feedback

Productivity is defined as the ratio of Actual Production to the Standard Production expressed as percentage where Standard Production is calculated based on Standard Allotted Minute (SAM) norms.

As evident in the above table, Indian garment industry has one of the lowest productivities among the major garment exporters of the world.

Reason behind lower productivity level in India

Looking at the global trade scenario and opportunities ahead for the business, now it is high time for Indian garment factories to focus on improving productivity and standardize their manufacturing facility to woo international markets.

Focus areas for productivity improvement
Productivity improvement in a garment factory can be achieved by focusing on following parameters:

• Production Planning & Control: A well planned inventory and streamlined processes can really lead to an efficient time management of manufacturing capacity yielding better results with the same inputs. A standard/benchmarked system of operations can really help in diagnosing problems beforehand and can help in preventing idle time and run-down times of the Sewing machines during the operations.

• Intelligent Systems and Processes at shop floor: To efficiently run a garment manufacturing set-up comprised of several interconnected processes, it is very important to have intelligent systems of communication and analysis to facilitate on-time decision making and effectively monitor the whole supply chain from end to end.

• Workforce Training: Work force training should be one of the major focus areas of human resource management in a garment factory, given the labor dependency of the industry. An unhappy and poorly skilled workforce can really trammel the business aspirations of any enterprise. On the upside though, soft skill training and multi-skilling are some of the techniques by which the productivity of individual sewing machine operators can be improved which will reflect itself in the factory overall productivity.

• Use of Work aids: Garments being manufactured on the industrial sewing machines involve several operations as per the construction of the garment and these operations involves a lot of material handling and folding. Now these operations due to the complexity of motions and material handling sometimes make it tough for the sewing machine operator to be productive with desired quality of the output. Hence, in order to reduce the complexities of such operations and assist the workers, certain ready-made work aids are designed to be ergonomically placed in the workstations. Use of better and efficient work-aids not only saves time but also reduce the fatigue experienced by the operators.

• Factory layout planning: Engineered Factory layout with better space utilization, least worker movement and streamlined structured flow of intermediate-parts and WIP ultimately improves the overall productivity of the garment manufacturing process as it reduces the idle time due to unnecessary motions and movements of man & material.

Approach for productivity improvement
Team WASTRA is a dedicated team of industrial engineers and garment technicians who work on productivity and re-engineering projects in the garment industry. Here is how a productivity improvement team carry out the whole improvement process in a factory.

In a garment factory, our team primarily understands, analyzes and benchmarks the existing processes of the client’s manufacturing facility, then the team segregate processes and identifies areas which are to be improved and also optimizes the scope of re-engineering which is sustainable to that process. Once the areas and scope of improvement is decided, the team indulges in the impact assessment and cost benefit analysis for the client to realize the viability of the project. Thereafter, the team sets out to the implementation phase and starts training of the workforce while designing suitable production system for different processes, simultaneously. Once the systems are designed, they are put into place and implemented. The team then defines the Quality control systems and standards of procedures to be followed to ensure the sustainability and success of the newly implemented systems. Gradually as the facility tones itself to the new design the team transfers the ownership of processes once again into the hands of the client.

Benefits of productivity improvement

A higher level of productivity means higher output from the same set of resources. With higher production, the variable cost of production (fabrics, trims, etc.) will increase proportionally but the fixed costs (overheads, depreciation, etc.) remains unchanged which improves the bottom-line. With improved productivity, the same number of available man-minutes (Available manpower * Daily available minutes) will produce more garments which will eventually decrease the manufacturing cost of the product, thereby yielding a more profitable return without having to engage any additional resource.

For example:

If the manufacturing cost of a 20-SAM shirts is Rs. 200, i.e. Cost per minute =200/20= 10

Hence, more the minutes taken to make the garment, more will be the manufacturing cost and hence lesser will be the profit. Since, productivity improvement decreases the time taken to make a garment, the cost of making the garment also decreases and ultimately the profits of the firm increase. It is estimated that 15% increase in productivity can yield an increase in EBIDTA by northwards of 30%, even if the wages are incentivized by 10%. For example in a Shirt manufacturing facility of 250 Sewing machines, making a shirt of SAM 20 minutes:

Basis of Calculation:


This observation showcases as how essential it is for a garment factory to operate at an optimum level of productivity. A profitable enterprise is ought to be efficient and should practice different techniques of organizational discipline to be profitable and relevant in the long run. An efficient garment manufacturing set-up is better at human resource retention and low attrition rates. Looking at the productivity levels gap between India and China; there certainly is a silver lining.

Thus the essence of a long term sustainable growth is achieving a standard productive manufacturing facility with disciplined measures and efforts in place. Such a dedicated clarity in vision will maximize the manufacturing health quotient of the industry and will also move to establish new paradigms in the complete garment manufacturing industry. Productivity improvement in particular is actually a much needed ointment for the entire Indian garment industry and for the same, WASTRA initiative of Wazir Advisors is forever dedicated.