We’ve mentioned how some apparel manufacturers are leveraging lean to stay globally competitive from U.S.-based factories. Allen-Edmonds shoes, New Balance, Joseph Abboud, and American Apparel to name just a few. Now our lean blog buddy Kathleen at Fashion Incubator tells us of another company, Fit Couture.
The basic concept of the system is that you want a continuous product flow of garments in the system. For each operator in the cell, you want to have one garment in process.
The garments get started on one side of the line (the right side in the pictures) and then move through their production stages via machines to their left. At the end of the line, pieces are packaged, scanned, and dropped into the finish goods bucket.
When a garment is finished, the worker who completed it moves back towards the start of the line until she reaches the other worker. She then takes the work-in-progress from that worker and handles all steps required to complete. The newly "bumped" worker then goes to the beginning of the line and starts a new piece. The process repeats itself every time a piece is completed.
Fit Couture is a small company, but obviously a smart one. Smart enough to find Kathleen and ask her to help them set up a lean cell. It’s really not that hard… and far easier than managing a shop across a few thousand miles of ocean.