Quality in Garment Industry Jun2019

Quality in Garment Manufacturing in India

Quality is something which is designed and built into a product ensuring that it achieves its intended level of standard acceptance and customer satisfaction.

Neither this intended level nor the efforts to reach that level is same in all the countries across the globe. It is well known that India is not considered a source of high-quality garments, primarily because of low quality of both the fabric and the garment manufacturing. Not only that, even in low priced, low quality garments, quality leaves a great deal to be desired.

The apparel exports of India stood at USD 16 billion in the last fiscal year. It plays a very significant role in the Indian economy because it provides employment to millions of workers. Therefore, it is imperative that the quality of garments made in India improve. Perhaps, understanding why the quality of garments made in India is low will help find ways to improve quality. Some of the causes that lead to low quality in the garment factories in India are:

• Most of the garment factories use different tools for quality management but not in an organized way. When needed, they use these tools haphazardly.

• Most of the factories do not have educated and skilled operators and quality checkers as they cost higher wages but factories do not understand that not investing in Cost-of-Good-Quality initiatives ultimately leads to increase in Cost-of-Poor-Quality.

• Lack of state-of-the-art technology/software or a failure of their usage further puts pressure of quality on skill of operators.

• Most of the buyers are importing garments from India with AQL (acceptable quality level) 2.5 and so there is no focus on further improvement.

• Most of the garment manufacturers are doing inspection only during the manufacturing process of garments and not following other factors leading to good quality.

• Raw materials’ tests such as shrinkage tests, colour fastness tests or fusing inspections are done according to the buyers’ requirement and not as a general norm.

Recommendations for improvement:

• Garment industry should implement various tools like quality system audit, quality culture, Six Sigma etc for perfect quality management.

• Educated and skilled operators should be used for manufacturing processes. This will lead to Right-First-Time quality.

• Investing in Quality at an Economic Conformance Level is essential. (See our article on “Cost of Quality in Garment Manufacturing” for detailed understanding)

• Latest technology and automated industrial sewing machines should be used to achieve the production of consistently right quality product.

• Raw material tests, fusing inspection, etc. should be a norm in the garment factory and the factory should set its own standard of a lower AQL level than the buyers’ requirement.

• Quality systems should be implemented at all stages and not just during production process.

Some of the Key Factors affecting/responsible for right quality are:

Quality at Needle Point = The Quality Module of WASTRA has some best non-conventional methods for improving quality

Quality at needle point refers to the idea that quality should be a major concern in the garment factory and one should always work towards zero tolerance system. Though zero tolerance is not practically feasible, there are some non-conventional methods to improve the level of quality in garments. Few of them are:

I. Display of information on every machine
Once a new style is about to be loaded for production, the measurement/machine setting tolerances should be mentioned on each machine to create awareness of the quality requirement of the product by having a hands-on information about its technical requirement. This is done right from the machines in fabric warehouse till the machines in the garment packing section.

II. Fault Analysis Card or Chart
Once the faults/defects have been collected, they should be written down and recorded on a fault analysis card or chart. These are also known as FACERAP cards.

FACERAP is a mnemonic for Fault, Appearance, Cause, Effect, Responsibility, Action, and Prevention.
This helps to carry out a cause and effect analysis as well as take action on the responsible process to prevent such faults in future.

III. Training of checkers for how to measure garments
Training of checkers for how to measure garments is not only important for new checkers but also for those who are experienced.

Job-specific training ensures that the employees have the technical skills needed to perform the job efficiently and smoothly.

The article has been authored by Rahul Kumar, Consultant .