Background Fabi fashions CC herein after called Fabi Sportswear is a clothing manufacturing factory in Somerset West, Western Cape. The factory which started from a garage in 1988 is a close corporation between the two co-founders, Retha Van Rensburg and Peter Schoeman. From the time of establishment, they were a fashion clothes manufacturer which then shifted to the production of sports and school wear in 2000. The factory is a small to large volume and high product variety producer of school wear and sportswear for schools, where much of their market lies. The company’s product portfolio includes garments for the leisure sports groups and the cooperate industry as well. This flexibility to produce quite a variety is brought about by the company’s ownership of an inhouse embroidery, printing, and sublimation facilities. The firm is a current beneficiary of the Business Turnaround and Recovery Program (BT&R) being offered by ProductivitySA. The engagement between Fabi sportswear and ProductivitySA was influenced by the factory’s operational and financial distress. The financial distress was due to the dwindling market as a result of the restrictions imposed by virtue of the Covid 19 pandemic. However, business has fortunately picked up since the inception of relaxation of the restrictions which saw the resumption of academic and sports activities, as well as business. Furthermore, the organisation got enroute to develop its own ranges as part of its innovative strategies to take on a bigger market slice. Nonetheless, all this positive rebound was riding upon an ailing operational foundation which Productivity SA transformed into improvement projects, which defined the Fabi Sportswear – ProductivitySA BT&R engagement. In depth causes that led to the engagement

The operational In-depth assessment unearthed several issues which derived to operational irregularities. These included the

• Absence of an operational measurement and performance system (KPIs)
• Absence of a pre-production planning and tracking system
• Operations which were being handled outside of the knowledge of the production unit’s production capacity. There were no established production cycle times hence the company would mostly agree to unrealistic delivery dates, thus affecting the ability to deliver on time and in full (OTIF)
• High absenteeism and lack of accountability.
These operational irregularities were evident reasons behind:
• High garment repair rates
• High fabric re-cuts rate that contributed to the high materials bill
• Prevalent bottlenecks which contributed to low production efficiency
• Low production efficiency
• Low employee morale Immediate response

The above irregularities prompted the first step in which the operational status of the factory’s operations had to be established statistically. Different data collection tools were developed and employed for the purpose of drawing a clear picture of different metrics within the production flow.

Progress to date

Though this is still work in progress several positive wins have already been sprouting out by virtue of this initial step, with the following two being prominent.

1. A decline in reworks

One of the first steps was the establishment of an operational baseline regarding re-works (quality) as was with all the other KPIs. The month of April was murky since there were no data collection tools as yet. Therefore, we averaged a few orders that were inspected during the Gemba walks and took these figures as a sample. In May we then instituted data collection tools to collect data regarding the nature and the frequency of the realised defects. The data would be inputted onto a spreadsheet which reflects on the daily re-works rate and the frequency of all the realised defects. We realised 42% in repair rate in the month of May.

Beyond this point a sudden plunge in re-works from an average of 50% to an average of 24% was realised and this was inspired by the following reasons:

I. The measurement system became an early warning system which facilitated prompt informed decisions to be made to counteract negative trends.
II. We shifted the personnel to an “every garment” checking system where every operator would conduct a quick check on every garment they work on so as to pick up defects at the inception stage.
III. The developed data tools incorporated the revealing of daily re-works rate, the nature of the defects and the respective frequency of each defect. With this, the production manager would track the responsible workstation and investigate the cause for further action.
IV. The measurement system made the production personnel aware that the daily production progression was now being measured and they needed to keep their heads up.

2. A decline in fabric re-cuts

The factory loses some of its value to fabric re-cuts. This is mainly due to lost/missing panels along the production process and damaged panels during the production process. Before the month of May, the fabric re-cuts data collection tools were redeveloped to ascertain the correctness and accuracy of the collected data. This is the reason behind an inclining trend in the month of May and June.

Reasons for the decline:

• A quick 5S system which brought about order and arrangement on the temporary orders
• A policy was instituted to have the production manager to sign for every panel that needs a regard.
• The factory uses a bundle system which we enhanced to allow every involved entity to, “all the time”, confirm the quantity of panels on a bundle in signing before and after working on it.