Garment Engineering – where should it begin?

It should start in the design cell, because if we do this at the production stage it’s too late, garment engineering directly affects the costing so it must be done at the development stage. Designers, whilst designing, must look into the manufacturing aspect of the garment, they must understand the skills and strengths of the company and design accordingly, this may be difficult because it can reduce their freedom, but creativity within constraints is even a bigger challenge for them.

Who should be involved?

Designers, Sample room manager, Industrial Engineering department and production management all of them should give their input from cutting to finishing. Be sure that one person per department is involved. But be careful Everyone’s responsibility is no one’s responsibility.

Processes involved in Garment Engineering

cut
embroidery
re-cut
sew
wash
finish

Start by carefully writing down flow of the garment listing the entire work content from cutting to dispatch. Under each process describe how it is done, checking the way it is done, trying to find a better or simpler way. Process Flow- Is defining the sequence of the various stages through which the garment will pass.

Whilst doing an engineering assignment one should define the processes first, it may be possible in to change the process sequence to simplify the Garment or to improve Fabric consumption.

For example taking the above sequence if the Embroidery lead time is 5 days, then planning must take this into consideration these 5 days will be added to each of the functions that precede this activity. This delay would ask the Engineering department “could the sequence of activities be altered to avoid this delay” i.e. Can the embroidery be done after the garment has been sewn, if this is the case then blocking can be avoided and perhaps this would result in a saving of fabric and labour.

Steps for Garment Engineering – we use the term CRAFT

  • CHOOSE – the operation / process to be studied by making sure it is worthwhile spending time to improve it.
  • RECORD-every detail about the job, even if it seems to have no effect on the method; sometimes the most minor detail can make a huge difference in the Garment Engineering process.
  • ASSESS all the details by asking WHY? WHERE? WHAT? WHO?
  • ALTERNATIVES Consider all the alternatives available for improvement and DEVELOP the most suitable.
  • FIT best alternative and make sure it is understood by all concerned.
  • TAKE CARE of the new technique once it is installed successfully by continually checking that it is still being performed correctly.

Key areas for analysis

seam types stitch types machine types attachments special work aids
  • Seam types – Various seam types should be analysed and considered to simplify/reduce the work
  • Stitch types- Explore various options in terms of seam types what is possible just by changing the seam type For example replace lock stitches by chain stitch in case of Multineedle seams
  • Machine types- Optimum use of technology to maximize , look in to machine type, bed shapes and automation that’s possible
  • Attachments – Attachment can help immensely in simplifying and reducing the work content, sometime operations can be combined using attachments to increase line balancing efficiency.
  • Special work aids- Special work aids can be designed to simplify/reduce the work content
  • Fabric consumption- Fabric being 70% of the garment cost is vitally important to monitor and if the engineering is done properly we can certainly expect to save fabric or reduce consumptions.
  • Cutting- how should it be done- we do not have Tailors now, we have operators instead and they should be working with clippers in their hands
  • Finishing- Finishing is an area which is generally overstaffed being the last link of the value chain all the problems from the previous stages have to be sorted out here, Garment Engineering can reduce considerable manpower from this area.

Some Guidelines to follow

  • Double needle lockstitch machine instead of 2 rows of Single needle machine
  • Safety stitch machine instead of SN +3Thread overlock
  • Multi needle chain stitch instead of lock stitch.
  • Fuse instead of inserting interlinings
  • Use of Binder instead of attaching and finishing the binding in 2 steps.
  • Avoid inner layers of fabric, if it’s not affecting the outside appearance.
  • Use Top and bottom feed overlock to gather and attach simultaneously.
  • Reduce seams by using a single piece of fabric. (Watch for consumption)
  • Cut bindings long so that minimum joins are to be sewn.
  • Eliminating marking operations.
  • Use notches on to panels.
  • Self folding of edges instead of facings
  • Matching only where it’s necessary.
  • Overlock instead of double folding.
  • Continuous zippers instead of single piece
  • Folded labels
  • Preshrunk elastics
  • Standardisation of collar, cuffs, epaulets
  • Cut to size; don’t cut one size that fits all.
  • Eliminate back tacks where possible.

This can be a start for you, by understanding the principles described above and thinking about how the garment can be constructed, and how you can improve the operations can save your company lots of money, keeping you competitive and profitable! Let us get Scientific.