Today the world is shrinking rapidly, forcing garment factories to think globally. Survival becomes increasingly difficult and it becomes more and more critical to find new ways to grow or sustain business. Of paramount importance is meeting the ever-shorter lead-time demands of customers.
In fact, time demands will be the strategic focus for buyers and suppliers alike for at least the next decade. Time is the yardstick by which we increasingly judge those we work with, particularly organizations providing manufacturing services. For apparel manufacturers focusing on the three key areas of Timeliness, Quality and Cost Effectiveness, it is only through Continuous Improvement programs – of which Lean is the ultimate system – that they can survive and thrive.
Another key issue is the focus on value-added. In Lean Thinking, this means transforming the factory’s environment and work practices to Zero Waste, in turn eliminating any additional costs that do not add value to the product.
Although DCG can also conduct improvement programs for non-Lean clients, more and more clients are coming to us for a complete Lean Transformation. Unfortunately, much of what passes today for Lean Manufacturing implementation is in fact a hodgepodge of Lean tools. Few people in the garment industry today have yet to understand the crucial importance of a complete and holistic approach to Lean Manufacturing where all its mechanisms work together to effect change.
It took Toyota over a decade to create a continuous improvement culture known as Lean Thinking and to master the formula for success. The Toyota Production System (TPS) was designed following in-depth analysis of all the company’s activities and flow of materials and information. The resulting Toyota Waste Map is a blueprint for continuous clean-up, elimination of waste and sustainability. Another fundamental cornerstone of Lean Thinking is how all efforts throughout the company are aligned to support anything which adds value along the supply chain.
But Lean is not a one-size-fits-all recipe. Instead of trying to apply the original TPS system, each garment factory attempting to go Lean must custom-design a Lean roadmap based on their own operations. That’s easier said than done. Identifying waste in the garment industry where some 85% of activities are classified as “waste” is a complex scenario. In fact, some of the activities cannot be eliminated but the waste can certainly be reduced.
That’s why DCG and this website exists – to help your company formulate its Lean roadmap, to share insights gleaned from practical experience and to offer a forum where ideas and problems can be shared and discussed. Let’s Go Lean!
Charles Dagher, CEO of DCG