Product Quality Management for the Apparel Industry
Small to medium apparel businesses tend to have a very limited approach to quality control systems though a reduced inspection of a non-standardised random sample through pre-shipment samples or upon delivery to their warehouse to managing an AQL approach to inspections either at the vendor prior to dispatch or on receipt at destination. Both approaches are based on simple statistics and random sampling, but if the goods fail and are not fit for market, the brand owner still needs to fix the problem potentially at a high labour cost or worse case cancel and lose the sale.
While having product delivered that is not fit for market is always a potential challenge, it can be significantly reduced by employing a quality management system that eliminates mistakes, inability or badly formed habits early in the process.
Quality management in the in the 21st century focuses on sustainability and transparency initiatives, as both seller and buyer satisfaction and perceived quality is increasingly tied to these factors. Establishing systematic thinking, transparency and a process of continuous improvement are key requirements for developing an effective system.
Sourcing the right vendor is the first step, ensuring all quality assurance steps are taken from a social compliance, sustainability and process control perspective are taken and a corrective action plan adopted for all non-compliance issues. Continuous improvement through corrective action management is an important process in developing a sustainable quality model.
On boarding vendors that are ill equipped, badly skilled or with loose management systems will not deliver a quality product. Corrective action will be a frivolous task, find a vendor that can produce the value required with minor corrective actions required.
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Social compliance, raw material and environmental sustainability should be audited by in-house or 3rd party team to accredit the vendor providing the vendor does not have prior certification from an authorised authority.
Defining the role of the Quality Assurance team and their function is important with in establishing a total quality system, QA can be defined as the technical team of a business but their role should be expanded into manufacturing compliance and continuous improvement of both sellers and buyers manufacturing process and systems. Importantly the QA team needs to ensure technically both product and manufacturing process are approved and ready to go prior to manufacturing starts.
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The Quality Control team still has an important function as a means to ensure quality meets brand fit for market standards. QC inspectors main function is to stop inferior quality been delivered to the customer through the use of AQL random sampling standards and using the results as a continual improvement feedback tool driving QA corrective action. Through supplier benchmarking, suppliers should become transparent self-assessment providers with random blind inspections as the goal allowing operational budgets to focus on QA rather than QC.
Read more about “Apparel Quality Process PP to Final AQL Inspection” http://wp.me/p7z4o2-d0
Managing supplier’s total quality value must be managed through reportable KPI’s, with all suppliers been benchmarked. The quality score is then contributed to the Supplier Scorecard that benchmarks all suppliers across various performance indicators. The information should be used to rank vendors and create corrective actions that will have cross function responsibilities to ensure all stakeholders are engaged in supplier ownership and continuous improvement.
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Defining process and systems to ensure documentation responsibilities and continuous improvement process control loops are in place ensuring value is realised is critical to an effective Quality Management System. The ISO 9000 family of standards is probably the most widely implemented Quality Management System worldwide – the ISO 19011 audit regime applies to both, and deals with quality and sustainability and their integration.
To define a great product quality system is a cross functional process which includes the following phases;
- Supplier On Boarding
- Quality Assurance
- Quality Control
- Documentation and Process
- Supplier Management & Score Carding
- Continuous Improvement
ID Global Concepts are experts in supply chain management. We add value to your supply chain through consultancy or management contract to ensure the business has the best practice systems that are the right fit for your business, customer and meet your value expectations.
Below are the retailer’s ID Global Concepts have delivered quality apparel and accessories to over the last ten years;
Macy’s, Urban, Sears, Marks & Spencer, Myer, Kmart US & Kmart Australia, Dunnes Stores, Debenhams Monsoon Accessorize, Asos, Witchery, Brown Sugar, RM Williams, Coles, Chloe, John Lewis, Disney, Next, Firetrap, Lonsdale, Postie, ASDA, Harris Scarf, River Island, Tesco, Woolworths, Walmart, Glassons, Babies’R’Us, New Look, Target US & Australia, Primark, David Jones, Best & Less, Sophie, Yakka, Top Shop, BHS, Burlington, BigW, Oasis, JayJays, Blue Illusion, Driza-Bone, Just Jeans, Volcom, House of Fraser, Pumpkin Patch, Suzanne Grae, Pelaco, Laura Ashley, Sportsgirl, Ted Baker, Truetex, TableEight, French Connection