UNDER BED TRIMMER (UBT) MACHINE: SHOULD IT BE USED IN OPERATOR TRAINING?
In apparel industry, operator training is one of the most crucial and demanding tasks for any company’s management. Usually, the training is organized at a training centre, which is always located in a predefined dedicated space inside the structure, following specific methods and manuals. But many a time, managers and trainers find great difficulty in letting go of the past with such established methods of training. With new technology and automatic sewing machines and various aids and attachments being used in apparel manufacturing units, do training operators with ordinary sewing machines or without attachments still have any relevance? This is an ongoing topic of discussion. Team StitchWorld brings to our readers the numerous industry opinions on the same.
In simple lock stitch machines, which do not have the UBT function, sewing operators need to use trimmer or scissor to cut down the needle and bobbin thread after completing the stitch. On the other hand, sewing machines integrated with UBT functions, operators need to push a button or press the paddle back to trim thread. A UBT sewing machine provides benefits in terms of reduced sewing time, improved stitch quality and reduced manpower requirement for thread trimming.
Below mentioned six industry experts provided their opinions on the various questions Team Stitchworld raised:
Amit Gugnani is working as Senior Vice President at Technopak Advisors Pvt. Ltd. from past 11 years. A GMT degree holder from NIFT, Amit earlier worked as Factory Manager at Arvind Mills. Shalabh Srivastava is Partner at Gunina Solutions and heading the skill development section. He was previously the Head ( Training & Skill Development) at Matrix Clothing Pvt. Ltd.
Bibhash Kumar is Manager at Texport Industries Pvt. Ltd. from last 15 years. He has done his Bachelors from NIFT.
Sunaina Khanna is Director of Methods Apparel Consultancy. She explored the opportunity of setting up an IE Department in Orient Craft back in 2002.
Paul Collyer has 46 years of experience in production-based activities in garment industry. He is currently working as a selfemployed apparel trainer and consultant.
Dr. Prabir Jana is a Professor at NIFT Delhi, and leads innovative methods of training operators.
SW: Do you feel operators should first learn to drive ordinary machines and only then should they be exposed to UBT machines?
Two of the many bad habits of any sewing operator are short burst sewing and putting hands on the flywheel to slow down. Both can be effectively addressed by training to use UBT machine from the beginning. The trainers need to be innovative and explorative in their approach. – Dr. Prabir Jana, Professor, NIFT Delhi
Amit Gugnani: Yes, I believe that trainee operators should learn to drive ordinary machines first and then should be exposed to the UBT machines.
Shalabh Srivastava: I am limiting my reply with respect to the various types of training being provided under the Skill India Mission, both by the industry as well as non-industry entities. Since not all the trained output of Skill Development Centres are being absorbed by organized manufacturing sector, it is advisable to train initially on non-UBT/ordinary machines and then migrate trainees to UBT ones, so that they understand the difference between the two and also become equipped to handle both technologies with
equal efficiency. Whenever training takes place within the industrial environment, only UBT machines are advisable.
Bibhash Kumar: Yes, operator should learn non-UBT machines first in training.
Sunaina Khanna: Yes, I agree that an operator must learn to operate the basic machines first and only in the second stage, he should progress to UBT.
Paul Collyer: The first stage of any training for sewing should be speed and rhythm training. This should be done on a basic machine. When operation-specific training is conducted, it should be done on the exact specification machine with accessories as used in production. There is no value-addition or any harm done if training is first done on a basic machine and then one switches over to UBT rather than directly going for speed training.
Prabir Jana: We need to decide where the sewing operator is likely to work in future. If there is a strong reason that operator has to work on ordinary machine only, then training can happen on ordinary machines. Otherwise, it should only be done on UBT machines. I assume by UBT machines, we are talking about Under Bed Trimmer (UBT) and Needle Positioner (NP) feature, which should be of basic level for any factory.
No, operators can be exposed to UBT machine directly; they need not be exposed to ordinary machine first. Learning to control an ordinary machine is comparatively difficult and time consuming as there is no control on speed, whereas speed of UBT machine can be set during training phase, resulting in shorter time to learn control on sewing machine.
SW: Why do you feel it is necessary to first learn the ordinary machine? What if the trainee is exposed to UBT machines from the beginning? What advantages or disadvantages you feel the trainee will face?
Amit Gugnani: New trainees are trained on the sewing machines mainly for: a) machine control; and b) handling of materials. These exercises are done initially on paper and then by stitching different patterns on fabric. Giving them a UBT machine for the same and asking them to get into the practice of cutting threads after sewing patterns on fabric, dilutes the purpose of training on machine control and material handling.
Trainee operators should be introduced to the UBT machine during skill training for the designated operations. This will help the operator to get accustomed to the UBT functions which can help in further improving the sewing capacity.
The advantages of using UBT machines for training are that the operator will not find the concept of UBT new once inducted to the sewing room and can immediately focus on building his stamina and efficiency. The disadvantage is that too many UBT machines will be required during the initial phase of training whereas in some cases, the UBT function may not even be used. Shalabh Srivastava:
Many training centres are standalone ones, being run by nonindustry professionals, in remote areas. Also, such trainees are being placed for jobs available in small- to medium-sized manufacturing set-ups, where use of UBT machines is still a dream. However, I would always support the idea of exposing all the trainees to UBT technology, if these machines fit into the training capital expenditure budget. A typical ratio between ordinary and UBT machines can be 70:30 respectively. A training centre shall be equipped with these two technologies, based on the placement requirements/ demand side of the industry.
Bibhash Kumar: It is always very easy to operate UBT machines if you have handled non-UBT machines. If trainees are exposed to UBT machines from the beginning, they cannot operate non-UBT if required. However, in few factories, all machines still are not UBT.
UBT machines come with servo motor while non-UBT machines come with clutch motor which is little difficult to control. So, if you have control on clutch motor, you can control the servo motor easily.
Sunaina Khanna: The use of ordinary machines for training is necessary because of the following reasons:
i. The machine control is much better as one cannot adjust the pace and has to have a better control over the machine.
ii. Due to less features in the basic machine, the
training time is less.
iii. He/she doesn’t face the challenges when he/ she goes to the factory as most of the machines in the factory are nonUBTs, so he/she can immediately adapt to the environment.
iv. His/her skill level is better as his/her control over the machine is better.
Paul Collyer: Using a basic machine requires a completely different sequence of handling movements to those needing a UBT. To teach someone to use a basic method and then expect them to forget and learn a new method for a UBT wastes time and money and adds to the training time.
SW: Do you think it would be faster to teach UBT operation once the trainee knows how to run the ordinary sewing machine or vice-versa (as the trainee may need to unlearn some habits of ordinary machine operation and relearn UBT running)?
Amit Gugnani: UBT function is not difficult and can be learned easily. I don’t feel there is any learning or unlearning issue here.
Shalabh Srivastava: No, for a fresher, the learning curve for both the technologies is almost the same if trained separately. However, if someone is acquiring UBT sewing skills after having learned to operate nonUBT/ordinary machine, it will surely reduce the initial learning curve. This is as per the last several years of experience of training youth for both types of units in Gurgaon. We have been able to prepare trainees, who were earlier trained on ordinary machines, within 2-4 days to start doing operations on UBT machines, as the demand arose.
Bibhash Kumar: Yes, it would be faster to teach UBT operations once the trainee knows how to run ordinary machines. It is hardly a matter of a day to get a complete idea about UBT once you know ordinary machines well.
Sunaina Khanna: The lead time for advancing to UBT from a basic machine is 1 to 2 days, but if the same is done vice-versa, he/she will face more challenges as there are many new skills that he/she would have to acquire such as cutting threads manually, raising needle manually, controlling machine pace on his/her own. This process is very similar to switching from a basic phone to a smartphone i.e. Symbian to Android versus Android to Symbian. The first process is a natural progression and an enjoyable experience, whereas the other process can be disappointing in many ways.
Paul Collyer: To teach someone to use a basic method and then expect them to forget and learn a new method for a UBT machine wastes time and money and adds to the training time.
Prabir Jana: I am not aware about any study done on training a raw person for UBT machines from the beginning and then exposing the person to run an ordinary machine. But in my opinion, he/she will not face any discomfort or major unlearning issue. If the trainee is exposed to UBT machine from the beginning, then he learns only motions required for under bed trimming. In ordinary machine control, pressing pedal by toe increases the speed, releasing pressure (pedal neutral position) stops the machine and nothing happens even if the operator presses the pedal by wheel while stopping the machine. However in UBT machine, if operator presses the pedal by heel (called back-heel action), then machine abruptly stops and trims the thread. Often for some operators, back-heel becomes a habit while working on ordinary machine, but if the same operator is now exposed to UBT machine, then he/ she requires unlearning of the habit of ‘back-heel’ while stopping the machine. Otherwise operator may accidentally stop the machine (complete with end back tack and trimming of thread) in the middle of the seam, resulting in defects and repair. If any die-hard supporter of current training method argues about literacy level to run UBT machines being higher, such apprehension is baseless in this digital age.
SW: If you feel the current training module is going on traditionally over the years and there is a need to revise it, then what all changes can you suggest in the training?
Amit Gugnani: The traditional modules have given results. The problem starts when trainers start taking shortcuts and don’t follow the complete methodology of training. Practically, a lot has already been done to improve the overall effectiveness of training and this
will continue to change based on the needs of the industry.
Shalabh Srivastava: Yes, for industrial sewing machine operator, the traditional training programs insist on training on paper exercises, treadle control, fabric exercises, etc. before moving on to actual high stamina, high efficiency training. The focus has always been on enhancing the technical or hard skills among the trainee operators. Also, this type of training program lasts for over three months. This needs to be changed as per the below pointers:
a. Training program should be of shorter duration (maximum 45 days) as no trainee can wait for too long to start earning from the acquired skills. He/she will start losing interest and zeal.
b. No line wants to wait for such long duration for getting the required manpower.
c. Longer the training program, larger are the chances of attrition during and after the training.
d. Cost of training program becomes unviable.
e. Despite long duration of training and certification, industry is not in a position to pay premium for a semi-trained person from these skill development centres.
f. Soft skills, counselling and industrial behaviour aspect of the first job shall be integral parts of this training program. This should include counselling about PF, ESI, and other benefits of working in organized sector companies.
g. Trainees should also be taught to handle the challenges of migration, as in most of the cases, either trainee has to travel to work location outside this domicile state or has already come to industrial hubs due to distress of unemployment or poverty.
Thus, the training program should be effectively designed to impart one or two skill-sets, which are demanded in the attached industry/company. Too many skills provided are often wasted as the operator is initially put for one or two set of operations, where he/she has to gain efficiency and stamina to work for longer duration. Gradually, the skill matrix can be enhanced for the line/unit, through planned intervention of industrial engineering and up-skilling.
Bibhash Kumar: Yes, there is a definite need for changes in traditional training. Most important is to control the turnover after training, as this HR role is important and soft skill training is required for the trainee operators. Currently, we get C grade tailors from the training room after training. We must define training in such a way that we can get B or even A grade tailors from the training room. For that, we should change the way of skill exercise training, it should be more precise and quality oriented.
Sunaina Khanna: There can be many things which should be included in the current format such as:
a. Concept of standard time in each sewing exercise.
b. Stitching with a cutter in hand – it is possible in 70% of the operations.
c. Creating awareness of 5S and making people responsible for machine and surrounding area cleanliness.
d. Concept of efficiency and how it affects the manufacturers.
e. Impact of absenteeism/ labour turnover on productivity/quality.
Paul Collyer: It is necessary to adopt intensive and highly focused training systems.
Prabir Jana: Unfortunately, there are not too many reported cases of breaking/ deviating from traditional practices. This area is relatively unexplored and people are following the treaded path. We need to appreciate that UBT machine does not only mean thread trimming and programming, it is much more than that. Energy efficiency, time efficiency and so on. Two of the many bad habits of any sewing operator are short burst sewing and putting hands on the flywheel to slow down. Both can be effectively addressed by training to use UBT machine from the beginning.
The trainers need to be innovative and explorative in their approach. I remember reading some expert’s opinion that paper exercises are no more used in Europe. There may be counter argument on the same. Large organized garment factories must experiment and explore newer and more effective ways of imparting training.
To teach someone to use a basic method and then expect them to forget and learn a new method for a UBT wastes time and money and adds to the training time. – Paul Collyer, Apparel Industry Veteran
Learning to control an ordinary machine is comparatively difficult and time consuming, whereas speed of UBT machine can be set during training phase, resulting in shorter time to learn control on sewing machine. – Dr. Prabir Jana, Professor, NIFT Delhi
Sewing operator trainees are being placed for jobs available in small- to medium-sized manufacturing set-ups, where use of UBT machines is still a dream. – Shalabh Srivastava, Partner Gunina Solutions
Trainee operators should be introduced to the UBT machine during skill training for the designated operations. – Amit Gugnani, Senior Vice President,Technopak Advisors Pvt. Ltd.
The lead time for advancing to UBT from a basic machine is 1 to 2 days. This process is very similar to switching from a basic phone to a smartphone. – Sunaina Khanna, Director, Methods Apparel Consultancy
Currently, we get C grade tailors from the training room after training. We must define training in such a way that we can get B or even A grade tailors from the training room. – Bibhash Kumar, Manager, Texport Industries Pvt. Ltd.