In­creas­ing sewing op­er­a­tors' ef­fi­ciency: Chal­leng­ing the glass ceil­ing

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“…a high se­cu­rity fac­tory in any South Asian coun­try…, the work­ers start their day in the fac­tory prac­tis­ing “war­rior yoga” fol­lowed by a doc­tor-vig­i­lant health food break­fast. The shopfloor is a sci­en­tif­i­cally lit sooth­ing coloured cham­ber with an air­tight ar­ti­fi­cially oxy­genated tem­per­a­ture and bal­anced hu­mid­ity level… The health of ev­ery worker is mon­i­tored at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals and each is of­fered car­bo­hy­drate-pro­tein drink fre­quently…. Vi­ta­min C and E pills have re­placed candy bars dur­ing break... Dur­ing the evening, op­er­a­tors en­joy their choice of cy­cling, swim­ming, danc­ing and step aer­o­bics un­der strict guid­ance... Af­ter com­plet­ing a healthy din­ner, the work­ers go to sleep in a spe­cial dor­mi­tory - a sim­u­lated “alpine cot­tage” - where added ni­tro­gen changes the mix of the air in­side, re­duc­ing oxy­gen con­tent while leav­ing pres­sure un­changed. The op­er­a­tors re­port for the next day’s work with en­ergy-gen­er­at­ing red blood cells.” The re­sult? Oper­a­tor pro­duc­tiv­ity that is un­heard of! Sounds ab­surd? Dr. Pra­bir Jana, Pro­fes­sor, NIFT, Delhi in his char­ac­ter­is­tic (un­ortho­dox) style chal­lenges the glass ceil­ing of oper­a­tor ef­fi­ciency.

It must be noted here that the views ex­pressed in this ar­ti­cle be­long ex­clu­sively to the au­thor and in no way re­flect the opin­ions of any spe­cific or­ga­ni­za­tion.

With grow­ing re­tailer pres­sure to re­duce the man­u­fac­tur­ing costs, or­ga­ni­za­tions in newly de­vel­oped na­tions are con­stantly search­ing for in­no­va­tive means to im­prove pro­duc­tiv­ity. So much has been writ­ten, dis­cussed and ar­gued about in­creas­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity of sewing op­er­a­tors in var­i­ous jour­nals and sem­i­nars over the years, which speak a lot about the im­por­tance of this is­sue. There are two dif­fer­ent as­pects of oper­a­tor train­ing for in­creas­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity. The first one is the sci­en­tific screen­ing tests con­ducted dur­ing re­cruit­ment and the sec­ond one is the sci­en­tific train­ing given to de­velop skills, stamina and con­fi­dence.

As the wave of robotics in sewing is play­ing in every­body’s mind, the hu­man be­ing can’t be ig­nored. It is high time that we look into the sci­en­tific ap­proach to­wards ef­fi­ciency im­prove­ment.

Un­for­tu­nately, both the as­pects are sci­en­tif­i­cally un­ex­plored.

While the train­ing ob­jec­tive re­mains to de­velop an oper­a­tor who will fol­low con­sis­tent rhyth­mic mo­tions to sew fab­ric com­po­nents ef­fort­lessly, and de­liver qual­ity prod­ucts, dif­fer­ent ex­perts pre­scribe dif­fer­ent meth­ods to achieve this goal. The ini­tial step is to teach a sewing oper­a­tor cor­rect hand and body move­ments to ac­com­plish the sewing task, and the im­por­tance of com­plet­ing the ex­er­cises within a stip­u­lated time. Hu­man phys­i­cal abil­i­ties, en­durance and stamina are com­mon fac­tors of suc­cess, once the train­abil­ity of a sub­ject is es­tab­lished. Though few ex­perts em­pha­size build­ing stamina, it is equally sur­pris­ing to note the lack of any sci­en­tific train­ing tech­nique to fa­cil­i­tate hand mo­tions and build up stamina. I would like to draw the at­ten­tion of ex­perts in the field of train­ing and biome­chan­ics by com­par­ing the sewing op­er­a­tion with sports.

Limit of phys­i­cal abil­ity

Sci­en­tific train­ing re­flects and im­proves an oper­a­tor’s phys­i­cal abil­i­ties and en­durance. Through sci­en­tific train­ing and sports medicine, we see an av­er­age

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