Ensuring quality in apparel production doesn’t happen by accident. It’s achieved through planned actions taken starting from the early developmental stages and continues until that quality product is shipped. Here we highlight our process and how we ensure we deliver a quality product to our customers.
Before Production: Preparation minimizes compromise
- Time and action (TNA) calendars
- Main material approval
- Color harmony
- Material quality
- Tech packs
- Customer approvals and PP samples
Time and action (TNA) calendars set the timing and critical task path for the project. The plan is continually evaluated and updated throughout. It provides the guideline of necessary steps and timing to help ensure a quality driven process and on time delivery.
Main material approval is the most important developmental step because it has the potential of taking unplanned large amounts of time while serving to lay the foundation for the garment. At Sourceeasy, to streamline this step, we carefully select our partner material suppliers based on their ability to provide consistency, value and availability in the materials they offer. It’s their commitment to these principles that permits us to start our development with a strong foundation for quality.
Color harmony within the garment comes from rigorous color matching. Main materials are initially matched to color standards agreed by the customer. Subsequent trim items are aligned to the main material. An acceptably matched final color component card (showing all production elements at a glance) leads to a harmonious overall garment appearance.
Material quality is confirmed through a 4 point inspection audit process. This is a widely used practice quantifies the defect rate in materials and leads to a pass or fail rating by roll. We make inspecting all materials 100% prior to shipment to another country or cutting in country is mandatory.
Tech packs are an essential tool to clearly define all desired aspects of the final garment. Key parts of the tech pack are;
- The bill of materials (BOM) that details each fabric and trim item needed for the complete garment
- The graded measurement chart details the critical point to point measurements and allowed tolerances for each size of the garment
- The POM (points of measurement chart) shows through illustration the exact places to do the measuring.
- Any critical construction sketches, artwork and packaging instructions round out a complete tech pack
Customer approvals and PP samples provide the sewing factory with the confidence and guidance that an agreement and expectation have been created with the customer. The PP (pre-production) sample must be made with bulk production materials and in the actual sewing factory to be used for the bulk production. It must illustrate exactly how the final garment will be produced.
During Production: Checking, checking and more checking along the way
- Quality auditors
- Cutting quality
- Follow the tech pack and approved PP garment
- Sewing line supervision
- Inline quality auditing at each step
Quality auditors (on staff or factory supplied) play a vital role throughout the journey. Prior to even starting production a quality auditor or IE should review the garment/tech pack and highlight any areas they see in manufacturing the garment that should get close attention and supervision. It may be a critical measurement or sewing technique that is more challenging than other areas of construction. This information would be communicated to the sewing factory management as well as used in the inline and final quality audits.
Cutting quality should be checked by examining the top and bottom pieces in the cut part stack against the pattern. If top and bottom conform than it’s likely the entire stack conforms. This is a continuous process that the vendor factory must agree is required for quality manufacturing.
Follow the tech pack and approved PP garment to ensure that all the expectations of a customer approval are met. Continuous conformance to pre-approved guidelines brings confidence and stability to the quality process
Sewing line supervision must be part of the normal day to day practice of the sewing factory. It’s not enough to set the foundation for quality and then leave it to each individual sewing operator to follow the guidelines. All sewing lines require continual supervision and adjustment to maintain uniformity and uphold quality standards.
Inline quality auditing at each step is separate from line supervision. A properly set up operation has the quality auditing team as completely independent from sewing operations and not part of the manufacturing unit. They’re autonomous and should report only to top management. Audits should be conducted throughout the day that identify manufacturing issues in process before they get to the end of the line. The cause of the issue should be corrected and serves to minimize substandard garments at the end of the line.
After Production: Attention to detail prior to shipment
- Final Quality audit
- Tagging and packaging
- Packing accuracy audit
Final Quality audit or End of Line audit is the complete examination of the product prior to applying the tagging and packaging. In most cases, the best method is to begin with a statistical audit that draws out from a lot of finished production a sampling quantity based on guidelines. This subset of goods is completely examined for measurements, sewing quality and overall appearance. There are guidelines for classifying defects and the amount of allowable defects towards a pass or fail judgment. A failure of audit should prompt a 100% inspection. If the 100% inspection is required, the management and audit staff work together towards properly repairing defects or withdrawing substandard production. Only 100% first quality product is eligible for shipment. This process should be embraced by the sewing factory management with the common goal of top quality for the factory and the customer alike.
Tagging and packaging is one of the last parts detailed in the tech pack that is especially important to follow exactly. Many times the exact tagging and packaging instructions are dictated by a retailer and they will charge a supplier for incorrect placement. Providing the customer fully prepared product pictures at time of packaging can satisfy and achieve the final approval required.
Packing accuracy audit is similar to the statistical garment audit but instead checks the accuracy and integrity of packing the shipment against the records detailing the shipment. This audit must be conducted before the cartons are closed for shipment.
To summarize, producing first quality products that meet the expectations of the customer is a continuous process from development at the conceptual stage through to the final shipment from the sewing factory. Following a comprehensive approach of best practices, aligned expectations and rigorous verification, is the platform for ensuring quality. This process must be considered from the beginning of your process until the end. It’s not something you can start thinking about when your product is already in production.