To the end purchaser of a product, quality means fitness for purpose, and the major components of quality are price, technical performance and aesthetic appeal. To a manufacturer, quality means conformance to a specification. The specification may be issued, wholly or in part, by a customer, or may be developed by the manufacturer himself. To maintain above all these quality on garments manufacturing, quality assurance system are widely used in garment industry.
Differences in garment specifications are reflected in differences in the type of fabric, the exclusivity of design, the cut, the processing and the accessories which are used. In general, a high level of specification in design, manufacture and performance will result in a garment with a higher price and quality level.
Five levels of price and quality are often distinguished.
In almost all the mills or garment factories, there are checkers and quality control people at all levels who check the material and reject if any variation is found. They want to ensure that customer does not get bad quality material.
What is Quality Assurance?
Quality control and quality assurance are complex areas of the garment industry. But we are maximum think that quality control and quality assurance are same thing. But actually quality assurance is not quality control, but quality control is an aspect of quality assurance. If we define quality assurance as, it is the process of designing, producing, evaluating, and assessing products to determine that they meet the desired quality level for a company’s target market.
For broadly sense, quality assurance is the management system, employed by a manufacturer, to ensure that the required specification is met. For ever stage in the apparel manufacturing process quality assurance system must be follow. From the product design to material purchase through to packaging and customer service, explicit procedures have to be developed, and followed. All the quality assurance process will ensure that the product will conform to requirements and will give satisfaction to the customer.
Quality Assurance System in Different Departments in Garment Industry:
Quality assurance and quality control are evolving in apparel industry with technological advances, similar to most other industries in the world. Quality assurance system mainly helps to improve productivity in different departments of garment manufacturing. The departments which follow quality assurance system in garment industry they are given below:
Quality control department:
Quality control is a set of test methods, inspection and analytical procedures. Which are applied to raw materials, intermediate products, and final products, to provide feedback to the quality assurance system and to ensure that the system is working correctly? Each department has its particular methods of testing and inspection.
Raw material department:
Raw materials are inspected on reception. Top cloth and interlinings are checked for e.g. weaving faults, printing faults, correct width, and distortions. Interlining, buttons, zippers, ribbons etc. may also be tested for various aspects of performance. The wearing and aftercare properties of the top cloth may need to be established to determine the aftercare label which will be appropriate for the garment. The fabric may be tested for us behavior towards heat, pressure and moisture. Shrinkage during fusing and pressing may be determined.
In the design department, quality assurance instructions are developed for each garment. In collaboration with the production planning and control department, QA specify the technical details of apparel assembly. This will include items such as seam and hem allowances, seam margins, pattern making and grading, notch depths etc. for each value specified a tolerance will also be given.
The production planning and control department:
The production planning and control department designs and documents the procedures for checking conformance to garment size and shape specification and for the final inspection. They also develop and maintain the forms which are used to register daily and weekly fault rates.
The cutting department prepares QA instructions which will identify and accompany the pattern makers e.g. lay to be sectioned twice, top clothes, lining.
During preparation for sewing, each part is individually labeled to prevent mixing and to identify fabric front and back part.
In the sewing room, devices are installed which aid the achievement of consistent quality, and operators are helps to work to the required standards by clearly defined working methods and by appropriately detailed, methodical training.
Intermediate inspection is concentrated mostly, though not exclusively in sewing room.
Final inspection is concerned with the size, fit and overall impression of the finished garment.
Electronic data processing (EDP) is common in sophisticated quality assurance system.
The Cost of Quality:
The cost of quality is composed of two parts. They are
- The cost of conformance
- The cost of non-conformance
1. The cost of conformance:
The cost of conformance is the cost of all of the procedures, such as documentation, analysis, inspection and testing, which are necessary to run the quality assurance system. QA also ensure that the faulty goods are never or seldom made.
2. The cost of non-conformance:
The cost of non-conformance is the cost which results from errors, faults, additional inspection and testing, reworking and repairing, unnecessary waste, downgrading of faulty garments to second grade, returns of faulty garments from customers, loss of goodwill and market opportunity.
A manufacturer who is supplying to a low quality specification will usually have a low cost of conformance but a high cost of non-conformance. A manufacturer who is successfully supplying to a high specification market will usually have a relatively sophisticated and expensive quality assurance system, but will be rewarded by a low cost of non-conformance and higher selling prices for his products.
A low quality operation is typified by high levels of final inspection, reworking, and repairs. A high quality operation is typified by high levels of training and skill, prevention of faults (rather than correction), and low levels of final inspection.
Garment Quality Assurance Company:
Several organizations have created standards and specifications to help in assessing consistent quality. Major organizations include the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). These organizations account for the majority of test methods written for the apparel industry. Other organizations include the American Society for Quality (ASQ), American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA), Textile Clothing and Technology Corporation (TC2), American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
Quality assurance and quality control are the important, unique, and complex area of the textile, garment and accessories industries. Quality is assessed in the apparel industry during pre-production, production, and post-production operations. In the pre-production phase, fabric, accessories, closures, interlinings, sewing threads, and other design elements are tested prior to the construction of garments. The production of apparel products includes cutting, assembling, pressing and other finishing procedures, and final inspection. At each step of the production phase, garments are assessed for quality. Companies develop various sampling plans to inspect products during the final inspection. Post production quality evaluation includes wear testing and testing with a simulation.
Current and future trends in quality assurance in the garemnt industry include, but are not limited to, green or environmentally friendly textile testing, sustainability, and analyzing new nanotechnology applications in textiles. Incorporating quality assurance into an garment company program can improve product quality and aid in increasing customer satisfaction.
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Editor of Fashion2Apparel. She is a fashion designer and ex-lecturer in Fashion Designing. She wants to spread fashion knowledge throughout the world.