Why Lean Manufacturing is Essential for Apparel Industry

Lean Manufacturing

The Lean Manufacturing is not a new word for us. As a textile professional, every one of us has direct or indirect relation with manufacturing. And lean manufacturing is basically an operational strategy by the help of which one can get an optimal production without any waste. So, in simple words, we can say that lean is a manufacturing without waste. The lean manufacturing concept was derived from Toyota production system which basic motive was to increase the value-added work by minimizing waste and reducing incidental work. The lean manufacturing basic concept is to put half effort of the labor, half of the manufacturing space, half of the tools investment and the engineering hours for developing a new product in a half time.

Lean Manufacturing Concept:

As I described earlier that lean manufacturing philosophy is mostly derived from Toyota production system. With the help of lean manufacturing, a small automobile company named Toyota could reduce its waste and improve overall customer-value. The steady growth of Toyota from small company to globally renowned is an undoubted success of this system. The emphasis of lean manufacturing is utilizing fewer resources to produce the value added product.

Lean Manufacturing Vs Conventional Production System:

There is no doubt that lean manufacturing has totally changed the concept of the production system. As its techniques are conceptually different from the conventional system.  Although there are so many points which can differentiate both systems yet I have selected some points to understand the same in a better way:

Conventional Manufacturing

Lean Manufacturing


Problems are view as problems in conventional system.

In lean manufacturing, problems are normally viewed as opportunities for future improvement in system as well as in product value addition.
Normally, production is driven by sales forecast in conventional concept. In lean system, in order to avoid surplus stock, production is only driven by customer’s demand (like JIT system).
Work in progress (WIP) is normal thing or part of production operation in conventional system. WIP is symbol that the process should be improved. And it is consider as waste which need to  improve.
The Top or tactical management level is authorize to change the process.  Everyone is looking for ways to improve the process/system or product value in lean system.
Standard work procedures are only defined in papers  and no practical implications exists. In lean manufacturing, everyone is performing  task in the same way as described in SOP. Until or unless, new or improve way of performing task is discover.
It more focuses on the people’s training and it totally relies on the people not to make mistakes. It focuses on the system improvements so that people cannot make mistakes.
If the process is working then no one will bother to intercept it for further improvements. As described earlier, the approach of this system is continuous improvements so that interruption can be happened if the necessary improvement option is there.

Some Other Factors:

The above comparison study is not over yet. As there are so other benefits which a company can enjoy while adopting the lean manufacturing system. Even you can eliminate the following deadly waste blunders which you commit while following the conventional manufacturing system. The lean system identified the same as follows:

  • Defects
  • Extra Processing cost
  • Transportation
  • Motion
  • Waiting
  • Over Production (Inventory)

Before the lean system, the defects or rejected goods percentage is uncontrollable. And due to this, the company has to produce extra (which causes extra processing & over production) to meet the exact order quantity. And sometime, this extra production drags the company towards extra cost and transportation for procurement of extra material for excessive goods. In short, a bad system pulls the financial cost of the produced product on break even or sometime even on negative side.

Lean Production in Apparel Industry:

Although the lean manufacturing concept was initiate by the Toyota motors yet it doesn’t fix for automobile industry only. This system has too much flexibility and can easily adopt into other manufacturing industries like apparel industry. By adopting this system, one can not only  reduce its cost but also  increase  its  turnover  systematically. Its state-of-the-art system can continuously eliminate the non value-added activities which lead the company towards ultimate process cost saving.  In  todayʹs  competitive  apparel market,  lean  manufacturing  is  no doubt an ultimate  solution to get the value-added product with minimum cost. This is why, thousand of textile units already adopted their techniques and now enjoying its benefits in terms of productivity and savings.