This program is primarily for buyers of apparel and other soft goods who don’t want to leave anything to chance.
Certain orders necessitate a lot of attention, from the approval of pre-production lab dips and samples, all the way to production quality and shipments.
If a large order for a key customer suffers quality issues and delays, the financial implications can be very heavy.
What is the apparel production monitoring program?
Sofeast follows up on the progress of development and manufacturing for you, sending someone on-site when needed to gather first-hand information, and reviewing samples in our office. We report the results regularly back to you, the buyer.
It is a combination of off-site project management and communication, off-site sample reviews, and on-site inspections.
Explore this example PMP (in this case for garments) where you can see the activities undertaken by Sofeast (in orange):
If you buy garments, other types of textile products, or in general some orders that require pre-production approvals and close follow up of a mostly manual (and potentially very inconsistent) production process, we can help you.
If your suppliers are in China, India, Vietnam, Cambodia, or Bangladesh, you may not have the ability to fly someone there to check what is going on and give you quick feedback. You can rely on our local teams.
In addition, you may have difficulty communicating with some of your suppliers. Our local staff will usually be able to get your messages across effectively in their language.
This is the typical approach we’ll use to provide you with a production monitoring program that ensures improved quality:
- Initial handover of factory and order information (based on your production capacity plan, on past issues with that factory and that style, on the factory’s cooperation & management systems maturity, etc.).
- Initial plan for that specific project: what resources are needed at what point.
- Particular attention given to the first bundles of finished products coming out of each sewing line – following an approval process before they ramp up.
- When we find issues, get the factory to show how they correct it.
- Follow up on what needs to be reworked (and the factory has to act on it).
- If necessary, have a higher-level person go once a week for accountability meetings – covering what needs to get done, what was done, why were certain actions not taken, getting commitments for the next actions, etc. based on a list of open issues.
- Weekly three-party calls if accountability is slipping, and briefings with your representative before and after each of our visits to your supplier.
Factories with poor management systems
Some factories don’t have good management systems and fail to implement the corrective actions or do rework where needed.
When dealing with a difficult supplier like this we specifically focus on following the above steps during the sewing, finishing, and packing phases.
If the product is in development, we follow up on the approvals of the size set samples, color, fabric & accessories.
When production is underway, we monitor the processing steps (typically material fabrication & dyeing, receipt of those materials, cutting, sewing, packing, shipping).
It should be based on a risk analysis. The major sources of risks should be controlled carefully.
- Reduce your risks by implementing controls close to the source and adding some pressure on the manufacturer’s staff through regular calls and visits.
- Be updated about the real progress of production, and plan accordingly.
- Watch for cases of undisclosed subcontracting, child labor, or other no-nos in today’s supply chains.
We can provide some of the activities included in the program individually, such as:
- Sample evaluation
- Pre-production meeting
- Product Inspections (during production, final random, etc)
At Sofeast you can always select whichever individual solution suits your needs on demand, however, the program is a way of providing you with maximum peace of mind so that you have eyes and ears in the factory ready to take action to keep your project on track, on budget, and at your desired level of quality.
CEO & Apparel Quality Expert
Founder and CEO of the Sofeast group, Renaud is a globally recognised expert in quality and supply chain issues and is an ASQ-Certified ‘Quality Engineer’, ‘Reliability Engineer’, and ‘Quality Manager’, and a certified ISO 9001 & 14001 Lead Auditor.
He often helps oversee apparel production monitoring projects.
How much does it cost?
Setting up and running your apparel production monitoring program costs 34 USD per hour for office work, 299 USD per man-day for work in factories. Pricing is negotiable based on the volume of work.