Davis describes how process standardization can help your garment-printing operation survive dramatic shifts in the marketplace.
The garment-printing industry has seen some rather radical changes over the years. This industry was once the land of plenty, and the US was riddled with massive textile facilities. But now it’s a shadow of its former self. Ninety percent of the licensed apparel once produced in the US in the thousands of dozens is outsourced to countries in South America and Asia.
Although many companies have attempted to either downsize or begin anew in a foreign country, a great number have died off due to the inability to compete with the foreign printing facilities. Nowadays, it’s unusual to find garment-printing facilities that have more than three automatic presses on the production floor. What remains is what was previously considered the mid-sized facility, with one to three automatic or manual presses.
The large garment-printing facilities that remain in operation in the United States keep the pressure on small and midsize shops to produce the best quality in a timely fashion and at a low cost in order to remain competitive. Among the most effective ways for these companies to keep seeing success is to standardize processes and streamline production in order to enhance consistency and efficiency.
Standardizing garment-printing processes
System standardization is a fairly straightforward process. In relation to garment screen printing, standardization is required to the greatest degree in prepress operations, where variables must be strictly controlled. Processes in the screen room that demand standardization are screen tensioning, degreasing and rinsing, coating, exposure, and washout. Each step requires training, documentation, instructional signage, and enforcement. These steps smooth out the production flow and maximize quality and productivity.
In the screen-tensioning process, optimum tension must be established for each screen mesh being utilized. This, of course, is based on the frame type and mesh count. Once you establish these parameters, you should document your tensioning procedures and keep the records in a master file and mounted in the work area in a step-by-step format. They should be simply and clearly worded so that anyone introduced into that department would be able to follow the instructions and produce a screen that meets the set standards. This procedure not only ensures a consistent screen, but it also minimizes the need for excessive supervision over new hires. The employees should be able to walk themselves through the process with minimal demonstration and intervention from managers.
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