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We all are aware that basic necessity of mankind is clothing. Clothes are produced by the garment industry. Textile industry produces of intermediate products like fabric and yarn etc. These intermediate products are used to make the final product i.e. garment. To produce garments it is important to have quality products.
Quality is the level of acceptance. It is very
essential requirement for any product or service. Do you know who decides the acceptable level
of quality? Customer! Yes, customer is buyer of wholesale and retail
organization, who decides the standard level of quality. Therefore, it is important that product
or service should fulfil the customer’s requirement.
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In today’s scenario, market is highly complex and competitive that’s why it is important to maintain the standard quality level. There are two aspects of quality that is design of a product or service and manufacturing of product, produced according to the specifications. Customer can be satisfied if they are provided;
- Right Product
- With Right Quality
- At Right Time
In garment industry, apparel quality control is exercised right from the initial stage to final stage of apparel production. In textile or apparel industry, quality can be measured in terms of quality of fiber, yarn, fabric and finished garment.
Quality of garments can be achieved by designing and manufacturing as per the needs of the customers. Quality control in garment industry include pre-sales and posts sales service, delivery, pricing, etc. It is significant not to ignore quality related problems.
Do you know Quality Issues in Garment Industry?
There are various quality related problems often seen in garments manufacturing like sewing defects, colour defects, sizing, or garment defects.
- Fabric defects
There are various fabric defects can occur while fabric manufacturing like bowing, crease mark, pin holes, knots, missing yarn etc. Defects can also occur while dyeing and printing of the fabric like colour out, water mark, colour smears, broken colour pattern, dye streak etc.
- Sewing defects
Sewing defects like open seams, missing stitches, uneven stiches, skipped stitches, seam puckering, improper creasing of the garment etc.
- Colour defects
Colour defects like variation of colour between the approved sample and the final garment, wrong colour combinations and mismatching of sewing threads or accessories (like laces etc.)
- Size issues
Size issues like wrong gradation of sizes, difference in measurement of a garment
- Other defects
Others defects like defective buttons, snaps, stitches, holes, faulty zippers, loose or hanging sewing threads, misalignment of buttons, missing buttons, cuts, stains, short zippers, inappropriate trimmings etc.
How to do Quality Control in Garment Industry?
Now let’s understand various ways of quality control in garment industry.
Apparel Quality Control System is followed by all concerned in the company from piece goods inspection to the final statistical audit.
1. Raw Material Inspection:
Once you receive the fabrics or accessories in the ware house, it should be inspected. 10% of the fabrics can be inspected as per “4 points” system/10 points system point system. The most commonly used system is 4 points system.
2. Testing of raw material
Fabrics and accessories (laces, buttons zippers etc) can be tested in a lab to assure that whatever raw materials, sourced by the apparel industry is as per the approved standards. There are various parameters that are tested for fabrics like the weave of the fabric, GSM (gram per square meter), thread count, yarn count, tearing strength, texture, hand feel, dimensional stability, colourfastness etc.
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3. In-process quality control in the garment industry
Quality can be controlled while inspecting during the process. There are various processes involved in garment manufacturing like cutting of fabric, sewing and finishing of a garment.
Cutting Quality Control in Garment Industry
In the cutting section, quality can be controlled in two stages (fabric spreading and after cutting of fabric).
Fabric Spreading: spreading is laying out of the fabric in superimposed layers (plies) of a specified length. Maintaining quality in fabric spreading is very important. Various factors can be checked while spreading a fabric like tension in fabric, fabric defects, marking of patterns, matching of fabrics/patterns etc.
After cutting: After cutting fabrics, there are various points that should be checked like miscut, pattern checks, notches etc.
Sewing Quality Control in Garment Industry:
During the sewing, quality control can be done by an in-line quality controller. Various parameters can be checked during sewing like machine tension, stitch per inch, the needle of the machine, cleanness etc
4. Finishing section quality control in the garment industry
Apparel quality control can be attained by inspection at the finishing section of garments. Garments can be checked to identify sewing defects, stains, measurement inspection, loose threads etc.
5. Testing of final products
After manufacturing, a sample from the final lot is sent for testing to ensure that it is as per the approved sample. There are various parameters that are tested for garments like colour fastness, seam strength, seam slippage, size fitting test, button /zip quality test etc. tensile strength, dimensional stability, pilling test, azo-free etc.
6. Acceptable quality level (AQL)
After completion of the packing of a complete lot of garment, a Quality manager conducts audit based on required AQL garments. When quality managers are satisfied with the audit then the same will be offered for a final inspection to the buyer. AQL is the maximum number of items (defective) that could be considered to accept during the random sampling of pre-shipment inspection.
7. Quality management system (QMS)
QMS is another important aspect of quality control in the garment industry. A quality management system (QMS) is a system that documents processes, procedures, and responsibilities for achieving quality objectives. It helps to improve the customer’s requirement, productivity and efficiency on a continuous basis. There are other benefits of QMS like reduce wastage, improve process control, lower costs etc.
8. Total quality management (TQM)
Apparel quality control can be done by applying TQM. It refers to a management process to ensure that the organization consistently meets customer requirements. It engages all divisions, departments and levels of the organization. It focuses on processes and practices to eliminate waste and pursue continuous improvement.
The aim of TQM is to deliver the products or services of the highest value for the customer at the lowest cost while achieving profits and economic stability for the company. The most common TQM tools are in use today. Each is used for and identifies information in a specific manner like pie charts and bar graphs, histograms, Pareto charts, flowcharts and modelling diagrams, scatter diagrams, fishbone diagrams etc.
9. Lean Manufacturing
Lean manufacturing is another tool for apparel quality control. Lean Manufacturing is a systematic method of eliminating waste by continuous improvement. There are various benefits of lean manufacturing like improve productivity and quality, reducing work in process (WIP) inventory, reduce cycle and lead time, reduce manpower, time and space, sustainability, employee satisfaction, and increase profit, Increase customer satisfaction and customer service. Lean manufacturing tools used in garments industry like 5S, Kanban, PCDA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) etc.
It is the first step to implement lean manufacturing and tool of continuous improvement.it helps to keep the workplace organize and clean.
- Sort (eliminate that which is not needed)
- Set In Order (organize remaining items)
- Shine (clean and inspect work area)
- Standardize (write standards for above)
- Sustain (regularly apply the standards)
It is a bottleneck analysis process which is the lowest among other garment manufacturing process which interfere in production. This analysis is crucial for sewing of apparels and finishing section.
It is plan-do-check-act or plan-do-check-adjust. It is four-step business management method for quality controlling and continuous improvement.
There are various other techniques of lean manufacturing like root cause analysis, key performance indicators (KPI), etc.
10. Six Sigma in apparel quality control
Six Sigma is another process used for apparel quality control. Six sigma allows organization to improve by designing and monitoring everyday activities of organization to minimize waste and resources while increasing customers’ satisfaction. There are two aspects of six sigma applied in processes for improvement.
- DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control)
- DMADV(Define, Measure, Analyze. Design, Verify)
Six Sigma helps to uplift the performance of garment manufacturing processes. Six Sigma has a huge potential in improvising buyer satisfaction levels, generating repetitive customers, improving merchandiser performance, improving processes in fabric purchase and inspection, cutting, sewing, packing and shipping to reduce rejections at later stages. Further, it helps in reducing the business risks.
From the above discussion, we can say that apparel quality control is really complex. Therefore, it is important to control the quality of apparels as it is important for customer satisfaction. Apparel quality control in terms of manufacturing, pre-sales and posts sales service, delivery, pricing, etc. Quality of apparels can be maintained by using latest technology along with apparel quality control tools and techniques.
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