The fashion and apparel industry is a glamorous industry. It is the second largest contributor to the Indian retail industry after food and grocery. Globally, it is valued at $3 trillion and contributes about 2% to the global GDP. As glittery it may seem, many of the problems in the industry can be solved using lean six sigma (LSS) methodology.
Six sigma imparts discipline as well as increases the overall performance of the production in this industry. Unifi, a polyester fibre producing company, applied LSS techniques to align and transform their production to meet the global needs. The application of LSS techniques helped them achieve increased efficiency by 20-40% in every department. Nike used LSS to eliminate waste, lost time and lost material from its processes as part of its sustainability agenda which ensured their supply chain to operate more efficiently.
A lot of energy in the apparel industry goes in the sewing and dying of the clothes. Many defects occur during these processes which keeps the apparel industry at a 3 sigma level with 2.5 to 4% defects which does not comply with the required 3.4 defects per 1 million mark in a six sigma manufacturing facility. Use of LSS methods helped Louis Vuitton to shift production to the handbags that were selling like a hot choco-lava cake, reduction in the returns of faulty handbags and wallets falling to two-thirds in one year. Stitching problems on the credit-card pocket of Vuitton’s Viennois wallet were also solved. LSS enabled the company to ship fresh collections to its boutiques every six weeks – more than twice the frequency in the past and also helped in reduction of lag times between phases of production.
Fashion and the apparel industry is a fast-paced and a dynamic sector, with the trends changing on a daily basis. Hence maintaining the required quality while keeping up with the quantity becomes difficult for the manufacturers. Application of LSS techniques in such scenario would profit the manufacturer only while keeping the customers satisfied. To achieve a successful and significant difference in the company’s future a quick application of these methods is necessary.