Kolkata and Ludhiana leveraging from lean implementation
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.