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Traffic

Light
System
for
Quality
Inspection
in
Garment
Manufacturing
Like other quality inspection tools,traffic light inspection system is widely
used in garment quality inspection. This system is used to stop producing
defect at source. This is a random inspection system. Traffic light system is
more effective in controlling shop floor quality than other quality tools
because of its visual communication. At the same time it measure operators
performance level in quality. No operators like be presented themselves as
lower quality makers. They concentrate on quality aspect during stitching
garments.
The format used for displaying as well as recoding audit report. The format is
very simple to use and to understand. The format is printed on a slightly
thick A4 sheet and hanged on the sewing machine. In this system quality
auditor visit operators workplace 4 times in a day (considering 8 hours shift
day) and inspects stitched garments and fill circles with color according to
the inspection result. In the initial stage when this format had been
introduced by JCPenny for their supplier, they instructed to inspect 7 pieces
from the stitch garments and if auditor found any defective piece respective
circle to be filled by RED color. If red color is marked on the inspection sheet,
all stitched pieces must be checked by auditor. And operator need to be
explained about the quality expected from him/her and how to get that
expected quality. In some case operators need more practice to get right
quality pieces.
Factory QAs later modified sample size, the rating criteria and added yellow
color keeping purpose right. Sample size is reduced as quality auditor does
not get 7 pieces at a time of inspection at most of the workstations. This
happens due to low work in process (WIP) in between two work station.
I have recently visited a factory in Delhi and found that factory uses Traffic
Light System. Inspection formats in the floor were spread over to all
machines. The criteria set by that factory have been shown in the following
image
(Copy
of
the
format).
Standard Sample Size: 5 pieces. Garment Inspection to be done after every
two hours.
Color marking procedures: Circles will be filled with color
GREEN: If found No defect
YELLOW: If found 1 defect
RED: If found 2 defects
Image: Traffic Light System Format

How to fill/use the format:


The above format is used for a single operator or workstation. A single sheet
will keep record for the whole month for an operator. As a quality auditor, on
the first day of the month you have to fill details such as Operator name,
Operation name, Line number, Floor number and name of the Month.
Inspection instructions have been given on the format itself with rating
procedures. The format is displayed in two sections to cover 31 days (whole
month). Write date in the cells of top row. Each column contains 4 circles,

represents four inspections in a day. After inspection fill the respective circle
(date and number of inspection of the day) according to the rating criteria. At
the end of the day quality auditor has to sign report on below the circles.
Sewing Operator Recruiting Test Procedure
Factories follow standard procedures for hiring sewing operators.

Sewing machine training


Industrial Engineering department is responsible for conducting on-the-job
test of candidates to check whether candidates are illegible or not as sewing
operator. In case factory does not have IE department, line supervisors carry
out this test. Under this test sewing operators need to go through few tests
and show their expertise in the given tests to get hired.
When you are hiring an operator and want to place her directly to a line, she
must be a trained operator and worked earlier in other organization. For such
trained operators you need to test her sewing skills on following parameters

1. Efficiency level in different operations


2. Quality of the seam and stitches made by the candidate
3. What types of machines she can run?
4. What types of fabric she can handle?
These tests also help you to prepare skill matrix of those recruits.
Test Procedure

Factories normally follow below procedures in operator recruiting test.


#1. Ask candidates to make mocks of garment components for the product
you make in your factory. For example, if you are making shirt then give
candidates to make Collar, Cuff, front placket or Chest pocket making and
attaching to front panel.
#2. Assess their work on the mock in terms of quality, performance level on
the above parameters. If they make mocks up to your satisfaction level you
pass them for sewing skills and forward them to HR for HR verification and
recruiting formalities. If they don't meet your satisfaction level you can reject
them.
#3. At time of making mocks also check how candidates handle a
machine. Like,

how they do threading of machine,


needle attaching to machine,
feeding of bobbin into shuttle,
how fast they run a machine etc.

Sewing Operator Training, Its Benefites and Operator Training


Modules
What is Operator Training?
A structured way used to build operator sewing skills, teach machine
handling and material handling and to impart basic knowledge about sewing
machine and quality of stitch. After completion of training a trainee is
expected to operate a sewing machine on his own and can sew garments.
Operator training includes both theoretical classes and practical classes and
lot
practice
on
sewing
machines.

Use of Operator Training:


Operator

training

has

multiple

uses

in

mass

garment

production.

#1. Sometimes factory needs to hire fresh trainees to fill operator shortage.
A structured training course is required to convert fresh trainees into trained
operators.
#2. Many times it is found that some sewing operators who are hired for
sewing task are not properly trained in specific operations though they can
sew only basic operations. In such cases, a training cell can impart sewing
skills
to
the
operators
for
the
specific
operations.
#3. When factory needs to upgrade operators for improving line
performance, or skill development is required for low-skilled operators, a
training
cell
is
essential.

Advantages of Sewing Operator Training:


Factories those have in-house training cell have following benefits. In mass
manufacturing factories need number of sewing operators to keep the floor
running. Major benefits are #1. Fill up operator shortage when required by hiring fresh trainees. Even
helper can be converted into operators by training.
#2. Train correct method of sewing to produce quality product in less time. A
trained operator knows how to handle a machine, can adjust machine, know
better way of handling material and quality of the stitch (seam).
#3. Can motivate operators to become loyal to the company by providing

them training on sewing and make them capable to earn by doing sewing
job.

Classification of Sewing Operators:


Factories use their own ways to categorize sewing operators. For example, I
have seen factories those categorized operators as Grade-A, Grade-B and
Grade-C. To know how a typical factory grades their operators read Grading
of sewing operators.
Others categorize their sewing operators as unskilled, semi-skilled, skilled
and highly skilled operators. Read the definition of unskilled, semi-skilled,
skilled and highly skilled workers.

Operator Training Modules:


Operator training module is a set of training areas to be provided to a trainee
during training period.
There is different set of training modules that are practiced by trainers in the
garment industry to train fresh candidate. Among those training methods
explained in Jukis "Sewing factory operator's training handbook" is mostly
used in garment industry to build sewing and associated skill to trainee
operator. In brief, Jukis sewing operator training module covers followings.

#1. Selection of learners through Pegboard Test, Machine Control Test and
Threading Needle Exercise Test
#2. Machine nomenclature of parts, Inserting Needle into Needle Bar and
explaining proper posture of sitting at the machine
#3. Sewing machine control exercise on Paper 6 different exercises is used

image courtesy: genprom.org.pk


#4. Sewing machine control exercise on fabric 6 different exercises is used
#5. Fundamentals of threading the machine threading bobbin winder,
loading bobbin, inserting loaded bobbin case into the machine hook etc.
#6. Machine control and sewing bar tack
#7. Handling and sewing different fabrics, trimming thread, turning
material while sewing and top stitching, adding fullness to seams
#8. Sewing machine adjustment
#9. Preparation of garment Mocks
Another operator training method, which is known as fast track training
method was introduced by Kingscourt. Paul Collyer, an international apparel
consultant, uses this method where no practice / exercise are done on
papers. Secondly all trainees are given target from the beginning. To know
more about the module you can contact to Paul (email:
paul.collyer[at]btinternet.com). Read his articles on operator training.
Other training modules that I found on the web are also good. You can refer
one those modules also to train your sewing trainee.

8 Preferred Lean Manufacturing Tools for Garment


Industry
#1. 5S:

5S is about sorting of things in your workplace and inventory stores. Keep


workplace and floors clean and arrange things in right order for easy access.
#2. Visual displays:
Use visual displays as much as possible to communicate with people working
in the factory. Display necessary information for quick access. Production
board at the end of the line, Mocks of sewing operations at each work
stations, quality inspection procedure on the quality checking tables,
displaying right and wrong product, displaying exit sign and labeling every
items are few example for visual displays factories can easily adopt.
#3. Standardization of work process:
One core objective of lean manufacturing is elimination of manufacturing
wastes and non-value added tasks from the internal processes and systems.
For this factory has to set standardized working method. When one follows
standard working procedures, there is minimum chance of making errors.
#4. Quick Changeover:
Quick changeover, one of the lean manufacturing tools, is used in reducing
waste in garment making process. While setting a line with new styles, line
losses lot of time which is known as set-up loss. Quick changeover or SMED
method provides efficient way to set lines for new style in less time.
#5. Error proofing:
Error proofing aka Poka-Yoke is any mechanism in a lean manufacturing
process that helps an equipment operator to avoid mistakes. It helps in
designing a process in such way that there would not be minimum chance of
producing defective product. Its purpose is to eliminate product defects by
preventing, correcting, or drawing attention to human errors as they occur.
Even error proofing technique can be used in information generation,
reporting system.
#6. Kanban:
Kanban is a workflow system. Kanban tool improves visibility and limit Work
in Process. Where factories use Kanban, it helps to eliminate building excess
work in process (WIP) in production lines.
#7. Problem solving:
Clothes are ever changing product. A garment manufacturers need to work
with latest products, new material and machines. When one does something
first time there may be a chance of having problem. You have to short out
the problem to meet your business goal. Problem solving tools helps you and
your team to find possible solution without external experts. Ishikawas Fish
bone diagram method and 5 Whys are two famous tools widely used in
problem solving.
#8. Workload balancing:

In mass production, garments are made in a line where numbers of operators


involve making a single garment. A balanced line means every operator has
workload and nobody sit idle without work. This maximizes operator
utilization. And as a result you get maximum output from a line. It is not only
sewing line, workload balance is required everywhere in the company like
department to department, process to process workload balance.

7 wastes of lean manufacturing:


7 types of wastes and non-value adding activities are as following.
T Transportation
E Excess Inventory
E Excess Motion
W Waiting
O Over production
O Over processing
D Defects