There are times when it is easier for outside experts to identify problems and provide solutions, which is why quality control companies are very effective in helping clothing manufacturers find defects in their garments.
In 2006, a large Vietnamese garment manufacturer hired a quality management company to help them. At that time, they had 500 employees working in their factory. Unfortunately, they had reached a critical point, as approximately twenty percent of their garments were defective. The quality control company soon realized two major problems. First, the company did not have an inspection plan (TIP), and second, random quality checks on the production line were rare. At this stage, the company was focusing on quality inspections in the end of the production line. Due to high defect rates, two end-of-production inspections were conducted to improve quality control. Supervisors and workers would do one check and dispatchers would do another before the items were packed for shipment. Unfortunately, much of the work had to be redone and the factory missed deadlines.
The quality management company highlighted the dual nature of the manufacturer’s problem. First, the specifications of each order were not clearly stated. Therefore, the workers were taking too long to become familiar with the new orders and were making many mistakes. The second problem involved insufficient controls during production. For example, a machine used to sew zippers is missing a stitch and the worker does not see it, as their goal is to go through the required number of zippers in one hour. At noon, the first rack that the worker has made reaches the quality control at the end of the line. There they see the missing stitch and realize that there is a problem. The 50 workers who insert zippers are ordered to stop production and each of their machines is checked. By the time they find the machine that’s causing the problem, production has stopped for about an hour. In addition, all the work done by this machine had to be redone during the morning. As a result, five hours of an employee’s work have been wasted and another five hours are wasted redoing the job. In addition, the work that the other 49 employees would have done in that hour is also lost. If a quality inspector had arrived in the morning to carry out spot checks at each worker’s station, the whole situation could have been avoided.
The quality control company contracted by the Vietnamese garment manufacturer recommended that the planning department improve its specifications to ensure more detailed dimensions and descriptions. Any review of the production process had to be accompanied by detailed technical notes. If there were any recurring problems, it was reported that all the departments involved meet and share information to identify and correct the error. They also recommended a structured inline production quality control program.
The Vietnamese manufacturer implemented the recommendations provided by the quality control company. In July 2007 the percentage of defective garments dropped to 6.5%.
Quality control companies begin by evaluating the garment factory’s output. They monitor each process, from the receipt of the order to the shipment. Based on their careful observation, they can point to weak areas and recommend solutions. It may even be beneficial for the manufacturer to hire the company for daily quality control. They have professional employees who are trained to properly evaluate garments and quickly identify defects. If a factory employee consistently performed poor work, the employees of the quality control company would have no problem reporting this worker as there is no personal relationship. Any defect in garments is quickly discovered when quality controls are performed at all stages of the production process, because these controls involve the actual physical inspection of all items and components in the manufacturing process.
All garment manufacturers are advised to have a good quality control program in place. Without such a program, defective garments will be shipped to customers. It is recommended to hire a third party quality control company as they have the experience to implement the best systems. With the help of quality control experts, a company’s products will be in good condition at all times and the company will earn a reputation for reliability and the quality of its products.