Kolkata and Lud­hi­ana lever­ag­ing from lean im­ple­men­ta­tion

Apparel Online - - Industry Perspective -

The in­dus­try firmly be­lieves that dif­fi­cult pe­riod is the best time to ex­plore new things and ini­ti­ate new ef­forts for im­prove­ment. Im­ple­men­ta­tion of lean is one of the most com­mon but still the best op­tion for over­all im­prove­ment in any man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity. The good thing is that now such ini­tia­tives are in­creas­ing in ‘Tier-II’ man­u­fac­tur­ing hubs also, like Lud­hi­ana and Kolkata which were once known to be lag­gards as far as lean im­ple­men­ta­tion is con­cerned. Push for the com­pa­nies to take this step for­ward is com­ing from the in­creas­ing aware­ness to find so­lu­tions to re­main com­pet­i­tive, in­creased pres­sure of mar­ket forces, will­ing­ness to be more or­ga­nized and ur­gent need to be cost-ef­fec­tive. As in­dus­try is de­vel­op­ing in these hubs, man­u­fac­tur­ers are work­ing with more plan­ning with the sup­port of ex­pert con­sul­tants. Ap­parel On­line dis­cussed var­i­ous as­pects of lean im­ple­men­ta­tion with some of these con­sul­tants and com­pa­nies that have availed the ser­vices. Nearly 30 per cent in­crease in pro­duc­tion, and that too with­out much changes or ad­di­tion of ma­chines, by just over­haul­ing the sys­tems of the fac­tory with proper im­ple­men­ta­tion, of lean, sounds im­pres­sive. But this is equally dif­fi­cult to achieve. Even be­fore im­ple­men­ta­tion, it is very dif­fi­cult to get the con­sul­tant and man­age­ment of ap­parel fac­tory on to the same track. Shar­ing his ex­pe­ri­ence about the same and al­lied is­sues, Gayan Ruhu­nage of Ap­pRail, who worked in com­pa­nies like Ex­o­dus Fu­tura Knits as Pres­i­dent – Ap­parel Man­u­fac­tur­ing, said, “Com­pany own­ers see the money we charge as a huge ex­pense, but they don’t un­der­stand that by adopt­ing lean, how much they can save, it is like be­ing ‘penny wise and pound­fool­ish’. But the pos­i­tive thing is that the young gen­er­a­tion eas­ily un­der­stands all this and tries to con­vince their man­age­ment. Over­all, fac­tory man­age­ments has to un­der­stand that if they want to sur­vive, they have to be more sys­tem­atic.” In Lud­hi­ana, Gayan has im­ple­mented lean in some of the top com­pa­nies like Su­perfine Knit­ters Ltd., Ambi Knits and Kapoor Cot­syn In­dia. In Kolkata, he has been as­so­ci­ated with Bonie Ap­par­els, The Ra­jlak­shmi Cotton Mills and Ack­nit In­dus­tries Ltd. “Cur­rently we are in two hubs – Lud­hi­ana and Kolkata, as we have to be present on site to im­ple­ment the plans. Our projects also in­volve turnkey projects which have in­volve­ment from con­struc­tion,” said Gayan, and he fur­ther sug­gested that be­fore start­ing lean, fac­to­ries have to work on ba­sics as their work­force is mostly un­e­d­u­cated or has very less ed­u­ca­tion. As a con­sul­tant, he works on all three lev­els – Men, Ma­chines and Meth­ods. Ac­cord­ing to him, one of the big­gest gains of lean im­ple­men­ta­tion is the re­duc­tion of man­power by 10 to 15 per cent in the en­tire process and across the shopfloors. Pro­duc­tion im­prove­ment is also there. Once lean im­ple­men­ta­tion starts, adop­tion of new sys­tem is the big­gest chal­lenge. “In some fac­to­ries we have ob­served that they have Work in Progress (WIP) of 2,000 to 2,500 pieces which we try to bring down to about 500 pieces. For this we work on line bal­anc­ing, lay­out plan and many more things, and this change is not easy for the fac­tory staff, es­pe­cially at the ini­tial level, but with vis­i­ble im­prove­ments, they later get used to it and adopt hap­pily,” ex­plained Gayan.

Some of the gar­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers are very en­thu­si­as­tic about the lean im­ple­men­ta­tion as the out­come is quite sat­is­fac­tory for them. Vivek Lakra, Di­rec­tor of Su­perfine Knit­ters is happy to have Gayan

Some lean ex­perts feel that up­com­ing places for mass ap­parel man­u­fac­tur­ing hubs like Jhark­hand and Odisha will be the next des­ti­na­tion for lean, as in these hubs, ap­parel man­u­fac­tur­ers are spe­cially de­sign­ing the lay­outs from scratch…; op­er­a­tors are avail­able in abun­dance, hence good man­u­fac­tur­ing prin­ci­ples like lean will be the start­ing point.

work­ing on im­prov­ing his fac­tory. “Once our lean im­ple­men­ta­tion is com­plete, we will be able to pro­duce 20,000 pieces per day while ear­lier we were pro­duc­ing 12,000 pieces per day. Our space, in­fra­struc­ture and man­power, is same but the only dif­fer­ence is lean im­ple­men­ta­tion. Gayan’s team is pioneer in the op­er­a­tions and sys­tems, so they are teach­ing the best of the op­er­a­tions and sys­tems which are hap­pen­ing in Sri Lanka and China these days. Firstly, we did com­plete changeover in in­fra­struc­ture; then the sec­ond part was im­ple­ment­ing dif­fer­ent kinds of sys­tems in all the de­part­ments, wher­ever needed. Thirdly and fi­nally, we have hired ladies whom we train in our fa­cil­ity. We have also iden­ti­fied 16 to 18 dif­fer­ent ar­eas of train­ing not only for SMO (Sewing Ma­chine Op­er­a­tions), but also for train­ing them in qual­ity, pack­ing, cut­ting, and print­ing.” Vivek fur­ther added that the com­pany also in­tro­duced the re­ward sys­tem and the in­cen­tive sys­tem. The con­sul­tant has given job de­scrip­tion to each and every mem­ber. This job de­scrip­tion is very im­por­tant as it helps new re­cruits to un­der­stand what ex­actly he or she has to per­form. Sim­i­larly, there are lots of other tasks that they have ac­com­plished which will ben­e­fit them in the long run. This is why they are hir­ing GM and CEO in the up­com­ing months and they are go­ing to main­tain it. Their buy­ers are also very happy to see this change.

Fash­ion Fu­tures, a Del­hibased lead­ing train­ing and con­sul­tancy com­pany in the field of fash­ion, ap­parel & leather, also im­ple­mented lean in some of the fac­to­ries of Kolkata and that too into the leather sec­tor. To name a few, Or­bit Leathers, Chemgems, Trio Trend Ex­ports and C&R Leather Fash­ion, etc.

It has done lean im­ple­men­ta­tion in as­so­ci­a­tion with In­dian

Leather Prod­ucts As­so­ci­a­tion (ILPA). Sup­port of Min­istry of MSME’s ‘Lean Man­u­fac­tur­ing Com­pet­i­tive­ness Scheme’ was also in­stru­men­tal for this ini­tia­tive. “Fo­cus­ing on re­plac­ing the fac­tory man­age­ment tech­niques of yes­ter­day with more ef­fi­cient meth­ods that greatly min­imises waste, re­duces costs, lead time and im­proves qual­ity, bring­ing in max­i­mum value to the cus­tomers,” ex­plained Pooja Makhija, Di­rec­tor of Fash­ion Fu­tures. “There were some ini­tial is­sues like there was no con­sul­tancy ex­po­sures to the man­age­ment, miss­ing mid­dle­m­an­age­ment cul­ture as most of the fac­to­ries have only a top boss and work­ers. Work­ing sys­tems are also quite dif­fer­ent there, as most of the work hap­pens in group-based or piece-rate sys­tem but we man­aged all this with proper com­mu­ni­ca­tion and con­vinced that lean will def­i­nitely help them,” shared Pooja.

This clus­ter was set up al­most two years ago with 8 par­tic­i­pat­ing mem­bers. The project for lean clus­ter ex­tended over 18 months, cov­er­ing 5 phases of equal du­ra­tion and it was started off with a di­ag­nos­tic study to find out the cur­rent strengths and short­com­ings, as they ex­ist in each depart­ment of the or­ga­ni­za­tion to­day. Based on the di­ag­nos­tic re­port, a fu­ture roadmap was drafted to cover the 18 months project with re­gard to spe­cific re­quire­ments of the SMEs along with var­i­ous projects that were hand­picked for im­ple­men­ta­tion at the par­tic­i­pat­ing units. Fol­low­ing this roadmap, so­lu­tions have been of­fered in each phase to pro­vide a frame­work of ef­fi­ciency and con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment in or­der to make work more ef­fi­cient, thus cre­at­ing bet­ter sys­tems and mak­ing work­ers happy.

In such hubs, not only lean or con­sul­tancy in op­er­a­tion is grow­ing, but project con­sul­tancy (fac­tory con­struc­tion and al­lied ser­vices to be­come fully op­er­a­tional) is also get­ting at­ten­tion. Kir­iti Roy, Founder of Leg­end Strate­gies and work­ing in the gar­ment in­dus­try from last 22 years, is in Kolkata from last one year and has worked with 5 ap­parel com­pa­nies.

Hav­ing spe­cial­i­sa­tion in project con­sul­tancy, Kir­iti shared, “When we are at the helm, projects get com­pleted both in a planned sched­ule and also in the re­quired bud­get, while nor­mally 60 per cent of projects that don’t have any con­sul­tant sup­ports, get de­layed and ac­cord­ingly pro­duc­tion too gets de­layed which means big losses. Fac­to­ries con­cep­tu­alised and de­vel­oped with our sup­port are more or­ga­nized, sys­tem­atic, ac­cord­ing to com­pli­ance and are used prop­erly be it space or any other re­sources.” Kir­iti is also of the view that with the ex­pert sup­port, ini­tial project cost may be lit­tle higher but it re­duces run­ning cost which is a big gain.

Pooja Makhija, Di­rec­tor, Fash­ion Fu­tures

Gayan Ruhu­nage of Ap­pRail

Kir­iti Roy, Founder, Leg­end Strate­gies

Vivek Lakra, Di­rec­tor, Su­perfine Knit­ters Ltd.

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