It’s a challenge to discuss lean manufacturing in less than 1500 words as it appears that I could write a book on this topic.  A simple overview of the training, implementation and management to better understand your suppliers lean manufacturing and SWOT analysis.

One of the main challenges of writing this top-level report is to provide you education and knowledge about lean manufacturing.  It is a touch on what is needed with partial descriptions.  You can contact me for full descriptions.

Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control

Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control

I will not discuss in detail six sigma, black belt, Hoshin or Kaizen philosophies.  For this report I will communicate in basic layman terms so everyone can understand.

You should not proceed without experienced people and a proven support systems in place.  If you need help please ask as we can work on specific needs for success which include but are not limited to systems, procedures, manuals, happiness, less headaches, increased revenue, and ROI for all involved.

In this report I will touch on one segment of the apparel industry but lean manufacturing applies to all manufacturing industries.   From my reports on the activewear industry, we all know how easy it is to find faults with products, design, development, strategic sourcing, supply chain, demand planning and more.

The companies I have reported on are strictly out of respect and appreciation for the brands.  I understand the challenges and want to be a part of the solution.



As the activewear industry has such an accelerated growth it is a challenge for manufacturing to keep up as there is not enough qualified suppliers. If the suppliers are qualified they are at or over capacity keeping up with the demands.

Those qualified suppliers capacity is held by the top brands that give them the most business, continuously in large quantities.

There are many challenges with all suppliers, a few are listed below:

– inexperience

– overcapacity

– new staff to keep up with demands, accelerated training and placement on the shop floor

– “we can make anything”. I always get nervous when a supplier says these words as it means they do not know their strengths and weaknesses

– order delays, this is a huge planning issue and hiccup in supply chain. As the factory cannot stop productivity on the factory floor waiting for your order.  They must fill your space and when you’re ready to place your order they usually don’t have capacity but will do everything possible to delivery as planned.  But those experts who we’re gonna make your original production may no longer be available.

– greed, never say “NO”, taking orders beyond their fulfillment abilities

– outsourcing, getting outside help to make the production

In previous posts, I have touched on industry wide problems in activewear and some of the major issues found on the retail selling floor of major brands in the sport apparel sector are:

Adidas Stretch Pant, Broken Stitch

Adidas Stretch Pant with a Broken Stitch

Adidas Tennis Top, Broken Stitch

Adidas Tennis Top with a Broken Stitch

Under Armour Puckering Seams

Under Armour Pant with Puckering Seams

Under Armour Stretched Neck

Under Armour Shirt with a Stretched Neck

Nike Pant, Excess Fabric on Seam

Nike Pant, Excess Fabric on Seam

Nike, Stretched Waistband

Nike Short, Stretched Waistband

Lululemon short - broken thread

Lululemon short with a broken thread

Lululemon Short - Stretched Waistband

Lululemon Short with a  stretched Waistband

The challenge is what you do with the feedback and how to take immediate corrective action, before it becomes a major problem?

What you do today, can improve all your tomorrows"What you do today, can improve all your tomorrows"

What you do today, can improve all your tomorrows”

A famous quote in business is that the consumer will “remember quality over price”.

"Customers remember poor quality over price"

“Customers remember poor quality over price”

I can provide you with the brief reports with more issues than stated above or you can see a brief overview of the reports for Adidas, Under Armour, Nike and Lululemon at the following URLs:





Let me know if you require the full reports, which go over and beyond what is mentioned in the above.

The Lean journey, how to build, maintain, monitor and scale on a global level with the kaizen philosophy.  I wanted to look at some proactive measures to fix the problems stated.

"Practice what you preach"

“Practice what you preach”

Lean training, the necessary steps

How do you manage and monitor lean manufacturing from a distance to over 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000 or more suppliers (factories)?

One of the first steps of lean manufacturing is lean staff which starts with lean training.

Lean staff does not always mean fewer people but means people who have the right training to improve productivity, performance and output.

Before you start training,it is always best to have established compliance, standards, systems, procedures, manuals, analytics and management systems in place.

I like to utilize a hands on approach to drive lean manufacturing initiatives that starts with training of established compliance, systems, procedures, manuals, and quality training.

Staff training on the factory floor

Staff Quality Training on the factory floor

Staff Training, it takes Two too qualify

Staff Quality Training, it takes Two to qualify

Quality Control - Reporting

Staff Quality Control – Reporting

Quality Control Training, One factory at a time

Quality Control Training, One factory at a time

“Your standards are not their standards”.  Lean knowledge, to educate, train, implement and manage.

The above is not an easy road as you need to be aware of the language, cultural and business ethics of that region and supplier.

In addition the learning curve and change management may not be immediate.  The value you provide may not be recognized immediately but in the long-term everyone involved will be thankful and appreciative.

And the ultimate goal your product will be better, quicker, faster and stronger at the right factories for the right production which will reduce your headaches and improve your ROI.  Which will make happier buyers, suppliers, and staff globally.

The next challenge will be implementing “Change management”.  Lean knowledge, to educate, train, implement and manage change for the better of all mankind.

During the training it is important to repeat, repeat, repeat and then the following week and month repeat again.  Until you see that it is engrained in their daily activities.  Even then you need to continue to repeat as new staff will continually be added to the factory floor.

From this discovery process of training you will better understands this suppliers strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  You will be able to allocate and manage your products better with greater success, fewer headaches, and assurance the product will be made right the first time.

Some major factors to be aware of:

– Every supplier/factory has a much different need so you need to be adaptable.

– In addition you need to be flexible based on their cultural differences.

– China is not China, there are 56 different ethnic groups with 80 different dialects, each region has a different culture, belief and purpose,  so this needs to be taken into consideration with the first step of training.  It is a proven fact that 30% of Chinese cannot speak Putonghua and that only 10% can communicate fluently.

– Next up is communication, you need to speak their language not yours.  This does not mean you speak their local dialect or country language but have patience and consideration in training.

– just because they speak English does not mean they understand English to the same level as you, a lot of information is lost in translation, and it is easier to say I understand than discuss for another 30 minutes.

– Written communication, it changes with dialect, Cantonese is not the Same as Putonghua written.  You need to ensure you are speaking the same if you share written documentation.

What i miss most about the above is the sense of achievement.  As happiness comes from working to accomplish your goals and advancing in the right direction for life’s purpose.  To add quality and value to people’s lives one day at a time.

Let me know how I can help you with my passion, expertise and experience in lean staffing, manufacturing and beyond.

I look forward to helping you meet your requirements, achieve your goals, surpass the expectations, reduce headaches globally and improve the bottom line.   I appreciate your sincerity, integrity, and honesty.

Honesty, sincerity, and integrity

Honesty, sincerity, and integrity