Production Process Flow of a Sportswear Manufacturing Company
Production Process Flow of a Sportswear Manufacturing Company
When I associate an apparel product with sportswear brands, I feel something special in that garment. So I was very much excited to see a sportswear manufacturing company. Fortunately, I got a chance to visit one that makes garments for sportswear brands such as Adidas, Reebok, Nike and Puma to name a few. Product range includes Crew neck Tee, Polo, Sweat shirt, Fleece Jacket, Pants etc.
From the discussion with production head I learned a lot of about production processes, product details and production process flow. The manager also emphasizes whatever recent changes they had done to improve factory performance in terms of labour productivity.
Most of the orders do not require garment washing.
Production system of the factory is really very good. They set sewing lines such a way that finishing tasks such as pressing, packing, tagging and carton making are done in the line. This line is called assembly line with online finishing. They don’t have separate finishing department. Each floor have department from cutting to packing of goods.
I had worked more than two years in knits factory. I found that production processes of this factory are almost similar to other knits factories. However, it will be very interesting to know - why sportswear manufacturing companies are different? How sportswear manufacturers make its goods and supplies to Brands?
Production process flow
Factory starts working on an order after order is confirmed. In the following production processes are listed and explained.
#1. Fabric Sourcing
Factory sources fabrics from buyer recommended fabric suppliers. This way they able to maintain quality level of the fabrics. Fabric are sourced and stored in fabric store in racks. Fabric inspection is done prior to issue fabric to cutting department.
#2. Trims Sourcing
Factory sources trims and accessories based on requirement and stored in Trim store room. Trims are kept buyer wise. For inventory management factory uses bin card. Each bin card contains details of trims, available inventory stocks.
#3. PP Sample Development
Pre-production sample is made in production line and send to customer for approval. Factory makes PP sample in production line instead of sampling department, where most companies make PP sample from sampling department.
#4. PP Meeting:
PP meeting is held after approval of PP sample. In PP meeting it is discussed that how an order factory will process.
#5. Cut panel laundry (CPL)
This process is carried out to improve dimensional stability of the knitted fabric, such as fabric shrinkage and torque or twisting that may happen after garment wash. All fabrics do not require to CPL process. Factory does fabric shrinkage test and spirality test in in-house lab. Based on the lab test, they decide whether to do CPL or not.
Factory uses CAD marker for marker making. Factory initially cut one lay for production pilot run. Once Pilot production run is approved by customer representative they go for bulk cutting.
Based on style requirement, cutting of garment component are done two ways such as fixed cutting and block cutting. Factory uses computerized cutting machine, straight knife machine and band knife cutting machine.
Fixed cutting – In case excess fabric at seam lines does not required for following processes such as printing and embroidery fixed cutting is done.
Block cutting is done for printing and embroidery process for some designs. In some cases, block cutting is required for few component and rest components are cut fixed shape in same lays.
All components are numbered with sticker or marker and stored. Numbering is done to ensure that garment components are attached from same layer and size.
#7. Cutting Audit
Auditing is done for cut components as well as bundles.
#8. Printing and Embroidery
Cut panels are sent for printing and embroidery. Based on Product design different panels of same garment may be required to process through different process at the same time. In case, one or two components are sent for these processes other components are kept in layers in racks with proper Layer tag.
#9. Print and embroidery Checking
Printed and Embroidery panels are checked for print and embroidery quality and stored for sorting based on sequence number of each layer.
Re-cutting is done for block panels after printing or embroidery process to shape components. Re-cutting is done in single panel or couple of panels.
#11. Super market
Numbering and bundling of cut components are done and bundles are kept on trolleys. Trolleys are placed in supermarket, a place where all trolleys are kept and marked line number to which line a trolley to be sent.
Factory has multiple lines in a floor and lines are designed (machine layout) product specific. Trolleys with cutting are loaded to the line as per plan.
Line supervisors and Industrial Engineers do line setting based on line layout prepared by IE. First operator in the line picked up bundle or lay from the trolley depending on operation. Bundles are moved from one operator to another after completion of operations. One important point I want to mention here that factory does not have extra manpower for thread cutting. So, thread cutting is done by sewing operators.
#14. Paper Transfer Printing
Most of the orders required a Brand logo. Instead of screen printing factory prefers transfer printing method for logo printing and this transfer printing is done in the line.
#15. Roaming Quality Inspection
A roaming QC checks sewing quality at all workstations following traffic light inspection system. Roaming QC ensures that each operators produce quality garment.
#16. Table Inspection or End of Line Inspection
At the end of sewing operations one check point is kept to check stitched garments prior to moving next process. 100% garments are checked at this check point. Checker trims loose/uncut threads found in garments.
As mentioned earlier most of the orders do not required washing process and thread cutting, checked garments are directly moved to pressing table. Garments pressed using steam iron.
#18. Folding, Tagging and Packing
Pressed garments are folded with tissue paper and tagged with customer instructed tags. Tangs may include Hang tag, Price tag and special care instruction tag. Tagged garments are packed into poly bags.
#19. Making Cartons
Tagged and individually packed garments are sorted size and color wise. Factory uses customer specified cartons (dimension) for packing garments as per specified size ratio. Customer may ask for single size packing or single color packing or mix size single color or mix size mix color packing.
#20. CTPAT Area
Packed and marked cartons are stored in CTPAT area for final inspection.