In manufacturing, you must be adaptable, proactive, have foresight and a good understanding of how the business works. Coupled with many years of expertise, experience in lean manufacturing, kaizen, and hoshin philosophies.
This is a review/report of some of the challenges I had well working on the Cycling clothing programs to manage the suppliers/factories to ensure the customer gets what they want to keep their end consumers happy and coming back for more products.
The person allocating the orders was back in North America, and had never been to one of these factories. Their decision to place the order was only based on price and delivery not on supplier qualifications and TCO. This was difficult for me as I was there eyes and ears on the ground to bring intelligence, improve the supply chain and strategic sourcing. Unfortunately, I was not consulted on the right factories to make this production, I had to manage what was put on my plate. So this is a story of managing what is on your plate, and what is required to achieve lean manufacturing, quality, and delivery objectives. Below are photos of some of the products on the factory floor:
One of the rules of thumbs in apparel manufacturing is validating your supplier, ensuring that they are as committed to the product as you are. It is great to check out the products in their showroom(s) but even more important is the actually products on the factory floor during every visit. As deception is perception, http://jeffreyliving.com/2015/02/23/perception-or-deception-part-i/ as I discuss on past articles. Below are some products from this supplier on their factory floor or showroom:
Understanding your supply chain, just because they make a cycling short does not mean they can make your cycling short. There are many variables, that need to be taken into consideration that I will not review on this report. Finding the right qualified suppliers can save you lots of time, money and headaches. This is why you should have a qualified staff member who has many years of real (not on paper) experience in this area.
I would like to review with you the importance of early stage inspections, I like to get to the factory for a visit at the start of the production (inline) to address and fix any major/minor issues before they become a nightmare.
One of my challenges is sharing with you my passion for the apparel industry, Kaizen, Hoisan, Six Sigma and all the other fancy terms for achieving greatness with product manufacturing. I am committed to working long hours, have the passion, like the challenges, discovery process, and I am delighted to improve the quality of lives of the people around me.
In production you need to be proactive and have the foresight to see into future problems and come up with quick solutions to fix all issues. In this report, I touch on some of the quality issues and processes to work with the suppliers on solutions to create success for all parties involved. During each production order I would like me or my staff to visit the production facilities 2 to 4 times during a single production, below are only some of the following quality issues that needed to be rectified before bulk delivery:
Holes or broken stitches (stuff that should never make it through an intelligent and trained QC/QA)
Finishing details (uneven necklines, stitches)
Decorative and trimming issues (misprints, flawed trims)
Finishing Details (Untrimmed threads, Ironing, Packaging, Packing)
As not all factory and quality inspections are simple, you need to be able to think outside the box… What about planning, budgets, timelines (T&A Calendars) or manuals. On this report I needed to create a manual for a new specific stitch. One challenge with making this particular cycling short, is that the pad attachment required a guide stitch to be applied before the ZigZag stitch, below is photos of the guide stitch and the Zigzag Stitch on top:
After applying the ZigZag stitch an individual or many individuals would have to manually remove the guide stitch, which at times would jeopardize the ZigZag stitch:
As the ZigZag stitch was not a regular stitch for this factory, there was lots of education and training required. I decided it would be best to create a training manual for this one stitch on what was acceptable (approved) and not (rejected).
Can you imagine if you utilized a 3rd party for this inspection or an unqualified individual to oversee this factory or production. Allot of the above issues would not be corrected and this product would be on your selling floor for your end consumer.
As I cannot be stationed at the factory 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the number one rule is Kaizen training on each visit. I would always involve the stakeholders for every inspection or review to reinforce quality standards, manuals, systems, and procedures.
Now I am not telling who is involved for every inspection or the method for effective training, if you want to know more it is best to contact me and we can look at how is best to help you improve your product, strategic sourcing, supply chain, infrastructure, systems, compliance, manuals and more.
Everything you do has a purpose and through the discovery process it is important to share with as many people as possible to ensure the problems will be avoided on future production.
There is much more to report about the above production order, the challenges and solutions but I will leave that for another article.
In closing, my number one job is to ensure the products were shipped to the customer in the quality they require in a timely manner. I am the western eyes, ears, intelligence, and wisdom on the ground adding value to the strategic sourcing, supply chain and products.
If you need help managing your global products, let me know, if would be my pleasure to work with you on success stories.