Has RFID become affordable?
Its important to considered all of the advantages?

If your productivity improved by 20% to 30%? the ROI then becomes more than acceptable at less than 12 month from installation. There is no doubt that if improvements of this level are easily achievable and the money you have to find to introduce new techniques will be repaid in a very short time and you will have raised your company to another level.

As we are all aware you cannot manage without knowing what is happening, do you have a system to automatically collect all of the info needed to point management into the areas that they are needed? RFID does this with no running costs, very efficiently and informs everyone where interventions will be most effective. All of the info is live, what better tool could you have to manage the factory better? Other than putting fabric in at one end, pressing a button and having garments come out at the other without human intervention?

The system can integrate with any ERP system, feed and receive information in both directions improving even further the flow of information throughout the organisation.

We have set up a demo RFID line with 25 terminals running in a factory in Noida, these terminals display a considerable amount of information to the operator and this will motivate, encourage and help them perform better, everyone understands that the operators come to work to earn money and using RFID we can tell them how much they have earned up to the minute, so if you have a fair incentive scheme they know on line how much they have earned and how much they are predicted to earn all day and every day. The system should not be restricted to the sewing floor it should cover all departments from Fabric receipt to garment dispatch.

The pictures show how we set this line up and an operator in the pressing department, the line set up is different and designed to eliminate bundle handling and to make the operator’s job easier, this system also allows us to control the WIP on the line whilst maintaining a good balance.

In an RFID installation every operator has a TERMINAL located close to the operator, as each bundle passes through his operation the he scans a bundle TAG on the terminal which sends information to the computer which does the necessary calculations and immediately sends the following information back to the Terminal, (this takes less than 2 seconds) so the operator can see the following:

The following list of information will give you some idea of what information is available to the operator

  1. Current efficiency
  2. Incentive earnings
  3. Output per operation
  4. Lost or down time
  5. Quality performance.

At the end of each line we have located an LCD screen and mouse which is attached to the computer with a tool called a “Thin Client” (this is a small inexpensive tool that is networked to the server)

The following list of information is instantly available on a “Click”

  1. Efficiency, / operators / line / Factory
  2. Repairs by type, Operator / Line / Factory / pieces and percentage
  3. WIP between each operation (to see line balance) Total WIP against targeted WIP, highlighting operations with too much or too little
  4. Output per operator (pieces, this is done as an hourly score, since this is the most common practice currently in use, but now it is done automatically you don’t need recorders.
  5. Lost or down time, lost time per operation by reason and % of the total.
  6. Line operating profit or loss, just enter cost per minute and the production cost of the unit and the system will calculate the figures
  7. Absenteeism. The operators who are absent today will be listed and the manager can replace them from his office without waiting for supervisors requests
  8. Operator skills matrix , if you require someone with a specific skill just click on the skill and a list of the operators that can do it is listed from the most efficient downwards
  9. Un-scanned operations, making sure that all of the operators are using the terminals properly
  10. Operation sequence
  11. Style status (cut, fed, WIP, Produced, washed, finished, into dispatch)
  12. Style changeover performance (using this system one can monitor the learning curve of each operator in real time)
  13. Roving quality control, Garments checked, number of visits per to each operator, faults found
  14. Labour Turnover, Absenteeism, how long operators are staying with you is also easy to establish, this analysis is constantly available.
  15. Pro-SMV is integrated to the RFID system and is available as an add on feature
  16. At a later date we will integrate Pro-Cut and Pro-Cut SMV into the RFID system thus allowing fabric reconciliations, and cutting room efficiency monitoring to be done instantly

With all of this information being available we now must teach management the best way to use it.

I believe that we must focus in two distinct areas, Technical and Quality Management, and Control Management.

Technical and Quality management:

This area requires the traditional skills, best methods, the best and most economical operation sequence, training operators on new styles to reduce style changeover times, working with the quality team to make sure that the operators are doing the new operation properly, checking and re-checking as the garment proceeds through the line so that the repair rate on the order is of an acceptable level and that the line efficiency is not affected by a multitude of repairs being returned from examiners. In other words this team can be called the “Right First time team”. RFID can monitor this team and the following reports are automatically produced

Industrial Engineering team

  1. Setting the right times and methods for all operations (Pro-SMV) creation of a database of standard operations and times that can be used many times.
  2. Part of the team must work with the sample department setting up the operation sequence for new styles, establishing potential problem areas, defining quality requirements per operation and working to minimise problem areas and to simplify new styles to make them production friendly.
  3. Style changeover performance / Pieces produced / Operator efficiency
    It is easy to see which operators need additional assistance to reach the required levels. It is vital that development work for new styles is done thoroughly and in advance, how many times are problems experienced on the production floor that should have been sorted out at the garment development stage, how many operations are missed out and the easiest way to make the garment has not been considered properly. These problems lead to extended style changeover times, this is one of the biggest problems found in the industry today, and of course impacts on profitability, delivery times and operating costs.
  4. Skills Matrix – This is produced automatically and allows management to find the best operators to replace absentees, just click on the skill type and the system will give you a list of the operators who can perform that skill, their efficiency, and where they sitting.
  5. Quality management

  6. Quality / Repair % - This information will inform quality personnel how acceptable the performance of each operator is and where more technical help is required to eliminate excessive repairs, again it is live, the info is on the screen and the terminal and can be accessed instantly to keep everyone up to date on the progress being made. Bundles don’t need to wait for repairs to be done, if the bundle consists of 10 pieces and 2 needed to be repaired the remaining 8 can carry on, the quantity on the tag is changed and a new tag is generated for the 2 and they are then tracked as normal. (this is called the Mother and Daughter technique)

So at the touch of a button the technical people can see how new orders are proceeding, repair rates, repair types, changeover efficiencies, absenteeism, cut work availability and this information will guide them to concentrate their efforts so that they can work to solve problems before they occur.

Control Management

Responsible for Operating Profit or loss / Lost or down time / WIP / Production Planning / Supply

This team is to ensure that all supplies, accessories, equipment, maintenance requirements, machines, folders, and attachments, are available to provide a smooth flow, making sure that cut work is available on time and that it is prepared in the best way for the production lines to make it, thus reducing any unnecessary handling and also to ensure that all requirements are available for a smooth and uninterrupted supply of work to the production unit.

This department requires people with a different type of education, the team needs to be able to look at the information and interpret it into actions, they are in place to make sure deliveries are on time, liaising with buyers, allocating the correct garment types to the lines who can best produce them, ensuring that deliveries are made on time, reducing the number of lines allocated to an order, or if circumstances force delays then working with the buyers to minimise inconvenience and maintain good relationships. This team will handle Production planning, and all of the complications within it.

Even with the best possible systems of control improvements cannot be made without a good supply of work and knowing your efficiency, absenteeism and Labour turnover helps capacity planning to become more accurate, if you unable to control your capacity how can you plan? So planning and control must go hand in hand

Teaching people how to manage/use this information become’s a major problem, training people to think in advance, to have Management personnel who can look at the figures and predict the effect they will have on deliveries and to understand that their correct interpretation is vital to improved performance. Obviously educated and informed management is the key to future profitability.

SMS’s These can be generated automatically by the system, a mechanic can be called to a machine, the quality manager warned of increasing repair rates, the production manager told of performance against target, they can be sent automatically all in Real Time, everyone concerned knows what is going on!!

It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is, size is not the criteria, setting up systems that tell you what is happening accurately and without effort must be the way forward in the future, with smaller orders, shorter lead times, and the buyers constantly wanting better value for money you have to continue to improve your performance. Perhaps you won’t be able to use all of the information at the beginning, but it will be available when you need it, we have a long way to go and more accurate information is a must if you are to improve your overall performance.

Without information there is no Management, without imagination there will be no Development,
and without these two things there will be no Improvement.