Reduce Line Setting Time for Assembly Line in Garment Industry

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Assembly Line:
An assembly line is a manufacturing process (most of the time called a progressive assembly) in which parts (usually interchangeable parts) are added to a product in a sequential manner to create a finished product much faster than with handcrafting-type methods. Engineers and production managers always look for a way to improve factory’s labor productivity. But they look over things that lower labor productivity. “Higher line setting time” is one of the most visible reasons at present that reduces factory’s overall productivity. When it takes longer time for setting a line, most of the operators sit idle. That means operators are not utilized in producing garment and operator productivity falls resulting high labor cost. Following piece of article will help you to reduce line time.

It have been observed that a line reaches at its pick productivity level on day 6-7 after loading of an order. The time lost in the initial days (learning curve) brings down the average labor productivity for whole style. Reason – lot of time is lost during setting of the line for a new style. This reduces overall machine productivity and line efficiency. So to maintain line productivity level you have to work on minimizing line setting time or throughput time. To reduce the line setting time, engineers have to study the garment thoroughly, prepare operation bulletin with machine requirement and machine layout plan prior to feeding cuttings to the line. Read another article to know how to reduce line setting time. Engineers need to coordinate with line supervisors and maintenance department with their plans and requirements. This will help supervisors and maintenance department to be pro-active in arranging required resources. 

I have seen factories where 1.5 to 2 days is spent in line setting for woven tops. When line supervisor and engineers are asked why they are taking that much time to set a 40 machines line, they give dozen of reasons. Whatever reasons line supervisor have, is the root cause for the delay. Reasons may vary time to time or style to style.   Let’s discuss main points that cause longer time for line setting.  

  1. All trims have not been approved or not yet sourced. Until required trims are sourced all operation can’t be started.
  2. Factory starts loading new style to the line once all operators get free from the previous style.
  3. Frequent change in line planning.
  4. Few garment components has been sent outside for printing or embroidery but did not received on time.
  5. Supervisor did not fully assess the operation sequence or skill requirement for each operation.
  6. Operators were not present in the initial operations or critical operations.
  7. Quality issue, supervisor not able to give suitable operator for the critical operation  
  8. Maintenance guy do not able set machine quickly. Replacement of machine, setting guides and attachment takes longer time than it should be.
  9. Planning for larger bundle size. At the first day of line setting if bigger bundle size is used then it will take huge amount of time to reach bundle at the last operator. 

 

Now it becomes simple, to start working on reducing line setting time. Work on the above reasons and eliminate them prior to starting of line setting. Once you know the reason you can resolve it. In the following list few remedies has been explained.   

  1. Research and development of the style –analyze the style well before putting on the line. By doing so, you will be aware of critical operations, machine requirement, skill requirement for the operations. 
  2. Production file properly checked at the time of receiving from merchandising team –check whether trims are approved or not, if not sourced yet when it is expected. Plan you your line setting according availability of goods.  
  3. All necessary attachments, needles, guides need to be arranged well in advance and tested in sampling or Research and development center.
  4. Dedicated maintenance and quality personal to be provided during line setting.
  5. Start setting a line with small size of bundles (3 to 5 pieces per bundle). Thus bundle will move fast at the end of the line. Once WIP is build up bundle size can be increased.
  6. Use machine shifting device for replacing machine quickly.
  7. Prepare line plan with manpower requirement for specific skill categories. Ensure that operators selected for the operations are present during line setting.

 

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