Fabric costs account for more than 70 percent of the total garment’s cost. Hence, it goes without saying how crucial, effective fabric storage and management is to the manufacturing process. Fabric store in a garment factory plays a vital role in garment manufacturing process, by not only offering the factory a storage space for its raw material inventory, it also serves as fabric inspection station. An organised fabric store thus becomes a necessity to ensure smoother operations in the factory. Maintaining an organised fabric store offers multiple advantages to the manufacturer:
A sorted fabric store offers you crystal clear visibility of stock available at every check point, which in turn helps the store manager to align his internal activities like GRN entry, physical checking against stock received from supplier, fabric inspection and relaxation, segregation as per production requirements, and indexing to make locating convenient.
An organised fabric store means less time spent in locating the required inventory. When the fabric store is well-organised, standardised and clean, it becomes lot easier to locate the rolls in the store without much difficulty and in considerably less time. This not only decreases the time the fabric store staff takes to issue the rolls on the floor but also decreases the dependency on any person particular to find the inventory stored by them. Organization and standardization in the fabric storage thus improve store’s efficiency and effectiveness. Moreover, dusted shelves, swept floors and clean counters prevent fabric damages, and keeps the store’s environment professional, encouraging a further organised approach for storing rolls by the staff.
Operating fabric stores is an expensive undertaking for the factory, as it does not contribute directly in the revenue generated. Cost of land, infrastructure, machinery, and labour in addition to the cost of raw material stored together account for a significant sum of capital. Factories can trim down these costs and perk up their efficiency by maximizing their space utilization in the fabric store, ensuring the following things:
1. Demarked area for freshly arrived fabric: When the fabric arrives in a factory, it is unloaded at the fabric store. As soon as the fabric is unloaded, all the fabric rolls should be counted, cross checked against the invoice received from the supplier. A random check should also be done to see if the supplier tags are intact at the head ends of every roll received. The fabric should then be stored at the quarantine area as per the priority in which it must be inspected. This avoids misplacement of the fabric.
2. Proper indexing of the stored fabric rolls: Indexing system varies from factory to factory. It may vary according to the fabric type, order specifications etc. After the fabric is inspected, the indexing of the fabric should be done and its exact location along with the order specifications should be noted. A proper indexing helps the store keeper to manage his inventory and space as per the internal processes. This eases the process of locating the fabric in the fabric store. Also, this helps the other departments like cutting and sampling to find the relevant fabric in the minimum time possible.
3. Space for relaxation: In some cases, fabric relaxation is a part of the store’s process. It is an added process which takes time. A separate area with capacity should be marked for relaxation. If all the processes are aligned, the store keeper knows exactly which fabric to relax and how much time it would take and when can the fabric be production ready.
Organized storage improves the space utilization in the store. Space utilization is not just for saving space, it also helps in preventing unnecessary travel times to locate rolls which lead to additional labour costs. It also helps the factory to avoid unnecessary delays in loading and unloading of trailers.
Organized fabric store improves the visibility of the current potential of the store, i.e. how much inventory the store is capable to handle, i.e. store, inspect, relax, etc. This opens the gates for the factory to better analyze their current capacity and their ability to increase their capacity.
As discussed in the previous point, proper indexing allows the flexibility of planning the capacity utilization in advance. You have the answers to questions like what fabric will be consumed in what time and what place in the store will be empty for allocation of the new fabric. Basically, you will have the timeline for each fabric.
Organised fabric store equips the factory to hold much bigger inventory, to handle bigger and more orders. Hence, an organised fabric store offers an opportunity to the garment factory to plan their expansion with additional investments focused on labour and machinery requirements for the store, with no or minimal investments in infrastructure development.
Establishing an optimum inventory level is like balancing on a double-edged sword. Too much inventory means blocking working capital that could be out into more revenue-generating activities. If inventory is too low, the factory faces the risk of stock-outs, timely order delivery failure, or loss of customers. So how does fabric store organization help in inventory management?
An organized fabric store allows clear visibility of the in-house stock the factory has. Hence, the management is in a better position to ascertain what the factory is carrying, how much more is needed to support operations, and for how long does the current inventory potentially lasts. Moreover, it also creates a clear demarcation between the inspected and uninspected rolls or lots, which make it easier to measure the efficacy of the inspection process as well.
A thorough knowledge of the capacity is essential to determine the inward and outward flow of every fabric present in your store. The better you know this both ways flow of fabric, better will be your store management.
When the in-hand inventory is clearly visible, it becomes easier for the fabric store to coordinate with the other departments that consume fabric. This is because the record keeping in an organized fabric store is easier due to better visibility, and thus more accurate and up to date. Transaction-based movements can also be recorded in the store which further enhances the inventory accuracy within the factory.
The approach should be to immediately update the records so that the planning could be done based on the present state of the fabric store. Negligence in updating of the records might lead to confusions and clash of the timeline of different fabrics.
Efficient fabric inspection process
An organised fabric store enhances the visibility of the stock that has been inspected, and the stock pending for inspection. It also makes it easier to identify the priority inventory that has to be inspected before the other stock, in order to meet the order requirements in the factory. Hence, an organized fabric store not just makes the inspection process efficient by reducing the amount of time spent in finding the rolls to be inspected, it also allows for easy prioritization of the rolls for inspection, on the basis of order requirements.
The fabric store is often an ignored part in garment factories when it comes to improvement projects and efforts. But small store organization and space utilization projects can bring in a lot of difference in the factory’s bottom line. Keeping in mind the benefits of organized fabric store above, factories should invest their skill and time into improving the efficiency of their fabric stores.