Apparel quality control is an important part of supply chain management for an apparel manufacturing unit. Being able to deliver high-quality clothes with little to no defects while reducing wastage and rework, improving process efficiency and eliminating extra costs is a major flex. However, by following certain methods, businesses can ensure to produce products that meet the stringent quality standards set by the industry and also build rapport with customers.
The current apparel manufacturing scenario is challenged by several factors. From changing fashion trends to rising customer demands, reduced production time and fast fashion, it has become difficult for many businesses to stay afloat as global competition persists.
Not to mention, with the huge quantum of fabric being manufactured daily, there are times when the quality of the products takes a hit.
Meeting the expected quality standards is essential for the survival and growth of a company in the changing economy. That is why apparel quality control processes are important to ensure quality standards are met.
What is Quality Control?
Quality is relatively a broad concept that encompasses many aspects. Products are generally measured on several factors, including,
- Cut and fabric defects
- Colour gradation and fastness
- Fiber quality
- Loose threads or pilling
- Bad stitching or sewing defects
- Size issues
- Free and fall of the garment
Quality issues are a common affliction that has plagued the apparel industry. Right from the moment raw materials are sourced to the finished product, quality managers face many challenges in ensuring quality standards are met. Businesses often fail to achieve quality goals due to the following reasons.
Use of Unsatisfactory or Inferior Material
Although compromising the quality of the materials to be used in the production process reduces the manufacturing costs, it also affects the overall quality of the end product. It gradually leads to customers losing their trust in the brand.
Once an apparel business flourishes and the demand expands, operations tend to expand as well. However, insufficient resources, be it workers, machines, finances, or supply chain resources, can cause major setbacks in an apparel business.
Lack of Quality Monitoring Tools
Effective quality monitoring tools and software can easily enhance the overall quality inspection procedure in the apparel manufacturing unit. From eliminating defects to identifying NPTs (Non Productive Time), and providing real-time analytical data to the quality measures, these tools make quality control faster, efficient and flawless. Unfortunately, most businesses are unaware of these tools.
Absence of Continuous Improvement
Stagnant and non-improving work methods lead to major complexities in the quality of service that a company offers. Not detecting loopholes and bottlenecks as they arise in the production process can result in inefficiencies on the production floor.
Importance of Quality Control
Quality control in the apparel industry is an important aspect of the manufacturing business. It ensures that the product meets the stringent quality standards set up by the industry and the customer. It includes assessment of raw materials, random production line checks to ensure the quality and compliance are maintained, and post-production to ensure the finished product is free from defects. It helps companies not only save costs but also reduce wastage and the time used in fixing errors.
Different Methods of Apparel Quality Control
The best practice any apparel manufacturing unit can do is to prioritise garment quality. Some key methods of apparel quality control that manufacturers can implement are,
In-line quality control is an effective method that allows QAs to identify quality issues in the product as it is on the production line. This helps in fixing defects and bottlenecks at the earliest stages and ensures the garment meets the required quality standards. This also helps keep costs lower and the defect rate remains minimal.
End-line inspection is an important part of the apparel quality control. Identifying errors and defects in a garment before it is shipped to the customer is paramount in ensuring that they receive high-quality products without defects. By checking each product individually, end-line inspection also helps maintain consistency in product quality.
Traffic Light System
Traffic Light System or TLS is the method of implementing random checkpoints that help reduce inefficiencies on the production floor. The system can effectively control shop floor quality by measuring the operator’s performance. The system is designed to identify problems at the source and allow line managers to take corrective action to ensure factory quality standards are met.
The importance of using a fabric inspection system cannot be stated enough. Integrating a software tool can easily detect deficiencies in the production process, and reduce the number of defective products that cross the production line. It not only automates the whole process but is an effective option in maintaining credibility for an apparel business.
Managing and implementing quality control measures in apparel production is important in maintaining customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. The methods mentioned above play an important role in improving production and helping businesses meet the highest quality standards.