The importance of training in your supply chain, this goes beyond the surface of the discussion to actually be there; educating your vendor on your policies, processes, procedures, culture, and customer for the image and integrity of your brand and company.
“Without the backend of the business, you will not have the frontend (Retail).”
Being accountable and responsible for all your actions; providing in-depth training to your trusted staff on the ground, your vendors, and the actual makers who compliment you, your department, and corporation every day?
“How do you manage your workforce? Is training a part of the everyday curriculum? Do you strive for constant improvement with Kaizen initiatives? ”
To help manage your product, it is always good to have full time stationed inspection staff as they are there every day to look after your production.
An issue with the full-time staff is they get comfortable with their surroundings (management, co-workers, and workplace). It is good to consider rotating staff at each factory to help alleviate any potential problems.
In an ideal world, a hands-on senior executive or management would be there to continually review the full-time inspectors work.
At the end of the day, it’s everybody’s job to check everyone else’s work.
At your vendor or factory, get familiar with their internal structure; understand their infrastructure, policies, procedures, systems or lack thereof. This will help you understand the supplier’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT).
Visit the support office that is managing your order and looking after your production?
Validate, verify, and interview staff to make sure you have the best person available with the right experience and qualifications to manage your order.
Understand how the staff is involved in each step. Find out how many support staff they have to assist with their needs? What is their workload? How many other clients do they manage? How many units and what is the revenue they manage? What is their work-life balance? When you are not present at the factory, are they managing your order or is it handled by other support staff?
Do a walkthrough of the entire operation and stop in to look at who makes their patterns, how much experience do they have working on Western styles and specifications. Determine what systems and software they are using; is it compatible with yours. Do they speak or read English or is everything translated for them? Is anything lost in translation?
To help with the product cost, a critical player on the team is the marker maker who determines the yield and optimization of the fabric.
As your time is limited at this vendor or factory, it is a good idea to meet with the owner or senior managers to discuss their operations, production planning, and performance measures for this order.
How you provide training and support is critical to your success. It is recommended to review the following:
- The facility or facilities that are actually making your production
- The type of machines (brands/age/maintenance) that are being used
- The number of machines being used
- The experience of the staff, operator efficiency
- The projected schedule for this production (All stages from sourcing to shipping)
- What is the sewing process? (Flexibility, Materials, Production, Queuing, Finishing)
- What is the cut to ship ratio?
- The projected workflow, performance, the “Hawthorne Effect”
- Cycle time projection/management for each critical stage
- What is your standard SAM (Standard Allowed Minute) for that process?
- Balancing, the sewing line and organization is critical for success
- Line planning/productivity, the output number of units being produced to the number of units scheduled, the AOT (Average Observed Time) then the SMV (Standard Minute Value)
- The rework ratio, tracking internal failure costs or operational wastages, this is critical in Kaizen Initiatives
- The next items to produce and why will they follow
- Production batch/line efficiency that will help determine the actual schedule, which will be your delivery
- Productivity, as this is a new style on the production line(s), it may take a few weeks of line worker training to get productivity up to the desired result.
- You should also take into consideration “The Perfect Order Fulfillment” and the “Repeat Order” effects
- Bottlenecks, how to solve them quickly/efficiently will be critical to your delivery
- The amount of dead stock (materials, trims, products) after the production.
Lastly but most important is customer satisfaction, “What is the return of defective product”. According to industry measures, customers only return 10% of faulty products, even though it is documented that over 20% are dissatisfied.
Not all vendors or factories will have the above facts documented, so you need to be prepared to create on a last moment’s notice and provide an action plan with the desired result and benchmarks so you can track the product from start to finish.
If you are able to do the above effectively and efficiently, you can improve productivity by 10 – 30% depending on the organization. This will help reduce item costs and improve your ROI by delivering a better product. That takes into consideration the brand image and integrity first and foremost for the satisfaction of the end consumer.