With the help of automation, a cutting room has become the most advanced department at an apparel manufacturing enterprise. Here, out of the total material cost, the fabric cost represents 50% to 70% of the total producing cost. Since, reducing this fabric cost is not something under the control of manufacturers, reducing the amount of fabric used is something they can work upon. For a factory to gain an edge over its competition and increase profits, fabric usage needs to be done smartly. This can be done by fabric wastage reduction software.
Automated spreading machines significantly reduces the work load of the spreading operator and increases productivity. Fully automated knife cutting systems are the most effective means of cutting garments. They ensure sufficiently high quality and accuracy, as well as, very high productivity for both low-ply and high-ply cutting processes. With the help of automation, advanced fusing presses perform very sensitive fusing process to ensure high-quality fused composite and avoid textile material shrinkage. Automated marker planning methods to match material pattern significantly improve processing of garments from intricate pattern fabrics.
There are few suggested ways which can be practiced in the cutting-room to save on the cost of fabric apart from these high-performance precision machines:
1. Preparation of a good Cut Plan: Preparing a cut plan based on the different limitations provided for the ease of operations, increase material utilization. Sometimes, these limitations are from the customer like:
Making a manual Cut Plan adhering to the above limitations is a tedious task and it becomes even more tedious when we have dozens of orders lined up daily. While doing it manually, the chance of human error is more and there happens to be less consistency in results.
2. Preparation of relevant patterns and markers and Cutting on the floor: Once the fabric arrives, roll-planning is done. This means the cutting department can give the pattern maker instructions on what shrinkage should be allowed to which size set, depending on their cut-plan and roll-plan. This information is provided to the CAD department from the cutting department by summarizing all roll information i.e. width, shrinkage families, in certain range and sometimes, shades. This helps in avoiding preparation of redundant patterns.
The same information must be available to the person laying fabric at the floor. This can help them to keep a check on the cutting operations and minimize the mistakes and work allocation at the table level to get the planned output and meet the daily targets.
3. Grouping of Width: The concept of width grouping is simple. Width grouping is done to utilize variable width across the fabric rolls and maximize savings in fabric consumption.
Following are the steps to be followed for width grouping:
(i) Group fabric based on actual width- several width ranges can be grouped into one group and thus width groups can be identified over a certain jump of width. This jump is called width offset or width range.
(ii) Same ratio marker will be made on multiple widths- Quantity of fabric is known in each group and which helps in calculating the number of garments that can be cut from that group. Thus plies can be distributed over the different width markers accordingly.
So only relevant markers are prepared, that too in specified widths, as against the practice of making markers with the minimum width of the fabric. This monetizes on the actual width available rather going with the minimum width and hence saves fabric in the process.
4. Roll Allocation: Different markers have different lengths and so do the rolls. Here lies a natural optimizing opportunity. The rolls can be allocated, depending on the length of the rolls and can minimize the end bits produced during fabric spreading. The thought seems simple but while executing the same with hundreds of rolls and with dozens of markers, the number of possible combinations are infinite and reaching to a perfect combination is a tedious task. This is the case for one order. Imagine the same for a cutting floor where they are planning huge volumes with dozens of such orders daily. The effort of doing this task manually is huge and nearly impossible. But we have software now which can do this herculean tasks in minutes.
5. Meeting Packing ratios: Every Purchase Order comes with a pre-specified packing ratio. The lay-wise output may not always conform to this ratio. This adds another dimension to the problem.
But what if the plies per lay are pre-set to conform to this ratio? This can be done by allocating the number of plies at the stage of lay planning only.
6. Detailed Reports: Once the production starts, there happens to be a huge problem of fabric reconciliation. Damages in fabric lead to a shortfall in production unless a damage allowance has already been incorporated. Even if incorporated, it is done at the fabric buying stage by accounting for an overall wastage percentage. But, the actuals may be less or more.
Laying of fabric for cutting, sewing and fabric stock should take place concurrently to enable the production of garments on a continual basis, without breaks. The report should be elaborate and should include all the attributes of the uses to have clear picture of fabric stock and its uses. The same report should be available for future references for any similar order, which is generally again a very tedious task to manage, but a minute’s job for a software.
7. Defect tracking and reducing defective garments: At the time of finishing, defects concerning measuring problems can be traced back to the patterns of a certain shrinkage allowance, which are cut on rolls with some different shrinkage allowance.
So, to have this tracking correct, shrinkage grouping for rolls at the lay planning stage should be done properly and allocated to the lays. The same information of shrinkage grouping can be used by subsequent processes of garment finishing. This will help in producing consistent garments, by applying the same conditions at finishing processes for the same shrinkage groups. This will help in reducing the numbers of rejections or deviations from the standard. Hence, if the process of the grouping using shrinkage values is done properly, the cut-to-pack ratio could be improved.
Today, there are several software, which individually caters to the different objectives and aspect of the cutting-room such as fabric Management. Such software helps in: selection and scheduling of rolls manually, auto-nesting of patterns in CAD software, scheduling jobs to production, track production activities and generate a report. There are a few software which enables greater fabric saving through fabric allocation, by picking orders for fabric for specific numbers and track the location of the fabric so that the information can be directly sent to the cutting-room.
Although an array of software is present in the market which services to a specific module or a part of it, but intelloCut from ThreadSol is a solution which takes care of all the above points with features like:
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