Lean for Apparel Industry – Part 1

As promised, my friend has sent me the first article on lean for apparel industry. As I always say, he also starts from 5S. Please read the article. If you like the article, tell the world by clicking on the LIKE button below.

5S is foundation for Lean

 If a company wants be a world class organization that company should drives and achieve below characteristics.

      Zero Down time

      Zero Waste

      Zero Missed Opportunity

      Zero Bureaucracy

      Zero “Hidden” Problems

To approach to this stage the path or main way is 5s.

5s Define as The Philosophy that lays the Foundation to create a Disciplined Mind, Which leads to disciplined thoughts which leads to Disciplined Actions – Action which improves Productivity, Quality, Cost, Delivery, Safety, Moral & innovation.

Why we need 5s?

1. Get EVRY BODY’S Involvement at EVERY LEVEL

          – 5S is the activity that each person works on part

          – 5S is the activity that all members’ participation is possible

          – Participative Actions – Huge Results

2. Creates a Pleasant, Safe and work friendly environment

3. Builds a Visual Work Place with Standard Work 

4.Taking ownership of what the team members are doing

           My machine  ->        my area    ->    my dept    ->   my company

5. Develops Kaizen Minded People

6. Strengthens Team Work, develops Leadership of all levels, reduces internal conflicts

7. Reduces physical & psychological stress of all employees

8. Reduces the resistance to change

9. Reduces hierarchal mindset and bureaucracy at work place

10. Unmasks the hidden organization

But most of the companies failed in implementation of 5s because of below reasons.
  1. We implement 5S not “Practice” 5S

  2. 5S implemented as “Look @ US” campaigns

  3. It’s designed to impress visitors, buyers

  4. 5S is implemented to win competitions than real improvement, after winning the competition no clear path forward

  5. 5S campaign itself becomes the goal

  6. Lack of vision and missing link to the company vision & Hoshin

  7. Lack of Top Management support

  8. Misunderstanding of driving 5S through delegation than the Site Leader on the saddle

  9. Under estimating the power of 5S in team building

  10. Most of mistaken with Housekeeping, forgets housekeeping is just a partthe pilot process of the whole journey which gives real time feedback on the plant culture and kick off of 5S

  11. Depending on Audits to sustain, more on pointing out than problem solving – “Here let us help you to keep this straight”

To eliminate these failure factors first we have to identify where we stands on.

That we can recognize going through the below categories.

1.    Objective

2.    Thinking

3.    Action

4.    Responsibility

5.    Result
Based on these categories we can compare the where we stands really.


Traditional Thinking

New 5s thinking



Profit Pursuit



Sustain & kaizen



Counter Measure


Spot Worker

All The Members


ProductionService Support

Improve PSQDCM






  10 Principles for implementing 5S

  1. Never let the 5S process itself become the goal. Keep in mind your true goal is achieving business excellence.

  2. To keep your process from getting bogged down, first get rid of all excess work in progress. If you setup and maintain a cellular concept flow will be created.

  3. Consider excess inventory as a major unneeded item to target.

  4. Everyone needs to be responsible for picking up “waste” including top management – no observersno delegation – you do it first.

  5. Clerical & administrative departments should also be setup in U shaped cells to provide observable 5S example.

  6. No “no man’s land” within the premises.

  7. Continued commitment & support from the top management to follow PDCA.

  8. All employees must be trained – human knowledge appreciates.

  9. Set KPI’s & include 5S to performance evaluating criteria. Concrete headed people to be exposed, others rewarded – stress individual participation.

  10. Never Ever Walk by an Unsafe Act or Condition.

Challenge1 – Sort – “Seiri”

Objective:- Identify and collate unwanted items, activities and Thoughts(ATTRACT)

        Question:- What “SORT” of actions we need?


      Red Tagging – every red tag has a why? Why? Analysis

      Quarantine Area for Red Tagged items

      Form Team Based Work Groups

      Financially cumulating the value of the items in Red tag area

      Disposal Policy & Scrap sales

      Lay the foundation for PROCESS MAPPING to get rid of unwanted activities

      ECRS ( eliminate, combine, rearrange, Separate)

      Identify Losses & DT’s

      Pick and Choose Supportive Tools

      Identify “Loss Based” Skill Will Matrix – ETHOS Pillar

      Training Plan on the philosophy

      Untapped human Potential

Why do unnecessary items accumulate?

  1. Sudden changes in the sales, production plan

  2. Excessive ordering

  3. Incorrect ordering

  4. Lack of quality control

  5. Lack of quantity control

  6. Improper storage locations & methods

  7. Duplicated ordering & delivering

  8. Aged, obsolete equipment, material, methods

  9. Improper handling – Forced deterioration
  10. Uncontrolled growth
Challenge2 – Set In Order – “Seiton”

Objective:- Locate a specific place for a specific item with the specific quantity, near to the place where it’s needed – improved material & information flow(DEVELOP)

     Question:- What actions should “SET IN”?


       Team based work groups “engage” in counter measures for the identified opportunities from the Process Map

       Start analyzing the Material and Information flow – VSM

       Set in order the standards of the admin areas

       Set in order the standards of the processes – minmax, TIMWOOD

       Set in order the standards for the people

       Set in order a Visual factory to surface problems

       Quick Change Over story boards

       Create OPL’s for training on the set in standards

       Build Upon the Culture of Problem Solving – Why? Why?, plans to train every one on problem solving tools

       Assessment team with a “How can I help you?” mindset

       Set in order a system to prevent SEIRI.

7 Seiton Principles

  1. Follow the FIFO method for material

  2.  Assign each item a dedicated location

  3.  All items & their locations should be identified by systematic labeling

  4. Place items so that they are visible to minimize searching time(frequently used, sometimes used, not used but must be kept)

  5. Place items so that agronomical conditions are addressed and can be handled easily

  6. Separate “Exclusive” from common

  7. Arrange the work place to cater flow – “Flow when you can, Pull when you can’t”

Challenge3 – Shine – “Seiso”

Objective:- CleaningContinuous Inspection with a Meaning(ENGAGE)

          Question:- How to “Shine”?


       Cross check OPL’s, continue creating the OPLs

       Establish Standards for CLIT

       Train team members on using the 5 Senses

       Provide specific tools for specified cleanings

       Establish cleaning schedules

       Address points of contamination – Error proofing

       Enable hard to access areas

       Fuguai Tagging system

       Slowly build in The JH Pillar of TPM

       TPM Story Board

       PM:AM ratio

       Lay the foundation for KK Pillar – PDCA

       “Don’t Clean Keep it Clean” Culture

       “I run, I Maintain” attitude

       Start  training team members according to the skill matrix

       Seiton Preventions, kaizens

Challenge4 – Standardize – “Seiketsu”

     Objective:- Consolidate Efforts, Set platform for Raising Kaizens(ENGAGE)

     Question:- What should be the standard?


       Establish the agreed upon best method

       Auditing & training to meet standard work

       Establish SOPs

       Establish revised KPI’s, targets for those who achieved

       Start job rotation to pre-condition team members mindset, multi skilling – kick off E&T Pillar aggressively

       Standards to reduce cost

       “I run I maintain”  attitude to “We run We maintain”

       Turn most visual displays to visual management

       Platform to Error proof, innovate

        Establish Early Management System to prevent shine

       “Never, ever walk by an Unsafe Act”

       Establish the Lean Org Structure to support VA layer

Challenge5 – Sustain – “Shitsuke”

Objective:- INSPIRE


       Establish the human system model for the plant

       Servant Leadership

       Aggressive catch ball on the Hoshin – Bottom up

       Elements of coaching and Job Instruction training for new employees to shorten the mindset change

       One system, one voice, one company, one vision

To be continued………….

Lean for your industry

I hope you are doing great. Today is all about implementing lean for your industry. But before that, I am sure you enjoyed last week’s massive discount (85% discount) on popular Superfactory presentation series. You will get over 5000 slides of information worth $2,300 just for $299. This presentation series contains information covering all the aspects of lean from lean manufacturing, lean office, lean enterprise, lean leadership, balanced score cards, lean quality and so on. I honestly believe this is all you need to learn the basics and advanced lean stuff. You can get your presentation series by following this link. If you want more information just follow this link. Remember Superfactory has a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you are not satisfied 100%, they will refund your money within 30 Days. So you are at no risk what so ever (But I think you will never ask for a refund. You will be 200% satisfied with what they have to offer). OK back to today’s stuff.
As I have always discussed, lean concepts are universal. They can be applied virtually in any situation. Lean concepts are applied in manufacturing to services to military to hospitals. This explains the adoptability of the concept. We have also discussed about why lean fails. We have identified one of the main reasons as just copying the processes from other organizations. So it is clear every organization needs its own way of using lean, even when the concepts remains the same regardless of the implementation.
My blog readers are always asking me the question “How to apply lean in my industry?” this is very valid question as every lean implementation will have different implementation strategies and processes. For my surprise though most of the questions come from readers in apparel and related industries followed by various automobile related manufacturers and people from service industries. I am curious as to why this is? But I think there is a huge force driving the lean initiative in apparel industry all over the world. Yes, I do get questions from US, UK, Egypt, India and various other countries. Probably the pressure to reduce prices, low delivery times might be driving the lean initiatives all over the world.
So I thought of publishing a series of posts explaining how to implement lean in your own industry. I will start from “Lean for Apparel”, obviously because there had been too many requests for this. I have invited one of my friends to write this series for you. He is an expert in implementing lean in Apparel related industries. I would love to give all his details, but as he is working for a consulting organization already, he wants to remain anonymous. But he will share his expertise with all of us. I think that is what will matter at the end of the day. So we look forward to the article series. One thing to note though. Although this series looks at the apparel industry, you will learn lots of stuff, even if you are not in the same industry. It will not waste your time. Learning from other is always better before you make the same mistake.
If you want to get a specific article on implementing lean in your own industry, please leave your ideas in the Suggestion Box on the site. Find the suggestion box to the bottom right of the page(It looks like the image below). Click On the Link at the top and leave your suggestion there.
If you are interested in sharing your expertise with the world, I will be able to give you the opportunity to publish your work on this blog. If you have good quality information please write to me.
Will talk to you soon with the new article series.

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