International Journal of Science, Technology and Society
Volume 3, Issue 4, July 2015, Pages: 101-106

Line Balancing for Improving Apparel Production by Operator Skill Matrix

Md. Mazharul Islam1, *, Md. Tanjim Hossain1, Mohammad Abdul Jalil2, Elias Khalil3

1Department of Textile Engineering, Northern University of Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh

2Department of Textile Engineering, Mawlana Bhashani Science and Technology University, Tangail, Bangladesh

3Department of Textile Engineering, World University of Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Email address:

(Md. M. Islam)
(Md. T. Hossain)
(M. A. Jalil)
(E. Khalil)

To cite this article:

Md. Mazharul Islam, Md. Tanjim Hossain, Mohammad Abdul Jalil, Elias Khalil. Line Balancing for Improving Apparel Production by Operator Skill Matrix. International Journal of Science, Technology and Society. Vol. 3, No. 4, 2015, pp. 101-106. doi: 10.11648/j.ijsts.20150304.11


Abstract: In this modern world, fashion & styles are changing frequently. The emergence of fast changes in fashion has given rise to shorten production cycle time in the garment industry. To meet the dynamic customer demands of momentous quantities in shorten lead time, assembly line production systems are used, where the garment components are assembled into a finished garment through a sub-assembly process. So in the era of product customization, the optimal usage of resources especially the available facilities & operators who are adding the value of product is important. Therefore the assembly line has to be planned in much more flexible way. This paper deals with the maximum utilization of manpower in labor intensive assembly lines. The objective is to accurately delegate workers to the various operations required to complete the product based on their skill & experience so as to achieve the highest level of productivity and delivery as per planned target. The experimental result showed meaningful improvement in productivity as compared to the existing system.

Keywords: Line Balancing, Skill Matrix, Assembly Line, Apparel Production


1. Introduction

As a supply chain of textile industry, garment industry is one of the major industries of the world. The production process of garments is separated into four main phases: designing/ clothing pattern generation, fabric spreading & cutting, sewing and ironing & packing. The most critical phase is sewing phase [1]. As the sewing is the heart of apparel industry, we have to design the sewing line properly so as to achieve the best output at maximum efficiency. Apparel is a mass production system. Assembly line production systems are developed to meet the requirements of mankind, which continue to grow day by day [2]. The demand for greater product variability and shorter life cycles has caused traditional production methods to be replaced with assembly lines [3]. Assembly line is an industrial arrangement of machines, equipments and workers for continuous flow of work pieces in mass production operation. Manufacturing a product in an assembly line requires partitioning the total amount of work into a set of elementary operations called tasks [4]. Tasks are assigned to operators depending on constrains of different labor skill levels. Finally, several workstations in sequence are formed as a sewing line [5]. The sewing process includes a set of work stations, at each of which a specific task is carried out in a restricted sequence, with hundreds of employees and thousands of bundles of sub-assemblies producing different style simultaneously [6]. Therefore this process is of critical importance and needs to be planned more carefully [7]. As a consequence, good line balancing with small stocks in the sewing line has to be drawn up to increase the efficiency and quality [7-9]. So the aim of assembly line balancing in sewing line is to assign tasks to the workstations, so that the machines of the workstation can perform the assigned task with a balanced loading with different labor skill levels [5].

2. Literature Review

A line is defined as a group of operators under the control of one production supervisor [10]. Balancing is the technique of maintaining the same level of inventory at each and every operation at any point of time to meet the production target and to produce garments of acceptable quality [10]. Assembly line balancing (ALB) is a managerial technique and can be applied to balance production flow lines [11-12]. Line balancing is the distribution of work on the line in such a way that everyone gets the same amount of work in terms of time [13]. In practice, a perfect balance could not be achieved but we can improve the situation by using proper technique.

The assembly line balancing problem was first introduced by Bryton in his graduate thesis. In his study, he accepted the amount of workstations as constant, the workstation times as equal for all stations and work tasks as moving among the workstations [14]. The first article was published in 1955 by Salveson [15]. He developed a 0-1 integer programming model to solve the problem. This heuristic method was developed by Helgeson and Birnie of the General Electric Company in 1961 COMSOAL (Computer Method of Sequencing Operations for Assembly Lines) was first used by Arcus in 1966 as a solution approach to the assembly line balancing problem [16,17]. Bartholdi (1993) was the first to address the Two-sided Assembly Line Balancing Problem with the objective of minimizing the number of stations by applying a simple assignment rule. Liu & Chen (2002) presented a Genetic Algorithm approach for assembly planning involving various objectives, such as minimizing cycle time, maximizing workload smoothness, minimizing the frequency of tool change, minimizing the number of tools and machines used and minimizing the complexity of assembly sequences [18-19]. Helgeson ve Birnie (1961) developed the "Ranked Positional Weight Technique" in which operation having the largest ranged weight is assigned to the first workstation, and other operations are assigned to workstations in accordance with their ranked positional weight value [16]. Abdolmajid Yolmeh et al. (2012) proposed a hybrid genetic algorithm to solve the assembly line balancing problem [20].

Operator's Skill Inventory is the database which maintains the record of each operator, who can do what type of operation and at what rating. It is very important to keep this database updated as over the time, operator acquire skills for most of the new operations as well as improve performance in existing operations [21].With the use of skill matrix an engineer's or line supervisors needs very list time to find out and select most efficient operator for a particular operation from the pull of operation. It helps the line supervisor for balancing the line with particular skilled operators according to the work content [21].

There are so many researches going on in the field of assembly line balancing. Various methods are used for balancing sewing lines which are discussed in the above section. We use operator skill matrix for better allocation of operator throughout the sewing line to get maximum output.

3. Materials and Methodology

In this experiment, 100% cotton Jacket was considered. Total       30 sewing machines were used where number of plain, over lock and flat lock machines was 13, 11, and 6 respectively.

In order to balance a production line in sewing floor a line was chosen & necessary data was accumulated from the line. First the garment was analyzed and operational bulletin or breakdown was created with process sequence, operational description & machine requirements (Table 1). Then workers were placed to different work stations based on operation & machine types and a standard minute for each job was given to the operators (allocated SMV) (Table 1). After one day we calculate the output & found that we didn’t get the desired output. To found out the problem, we calculated individual workers performed SMV by work study. After that workers individual efficiency & output at individual efficiency was calculated and then saw that efficiencies varies dramatically due to unplanned layout (Table 1). So to balance the line we have to rearrange the operators within the line. To do this, first machine-wise breakdown (Table 2 to Table 7) was done and workers are reallocated based on two assumptions: a) operators are only be allocated depending on the machine type that he/she can operate; b) allocation is also depend on operation type that he/she can perform. After fulfilling above two conditions we rearranged operators based on SMV. Higher the SMV, higher should be the efficiency % as we know where the workload is high, we need higher efficient worker. After total rearrangement, we again calculated the output (Table 8). We observed that productivity is increased but not up to the theoretical productivity. In some process, huge bottleneck was appeared. So to improve productivity we introduced another worker to the bottleneck operation by dividing the workload between two workers (Table 9). Finally we got satisfactory productivity.

4. Experimental Data

Operational Bulletin of Jacket before and after arrangement, Breakdown of different machines before and after rearrangement along with comparison of productions are shown below in different tables.

Table 1. Operational Bulletin of Jacket before arrangement.

SL Process Name Name M/c Type Performed SMV Allocated SMV Output @ 100% eff Efficiency % Output @ performed efficiency %
1 Back part panel join Jarna O/L 0.64 0.62 96.77 96 93.26
2 Back panel ts tc Naher F/L 0.35 0.3 200.00 87 173.08
3 Left and right panel join Hasina O/L 1.72 0.62 96.77 36 34.95
4 Left and right panel join Eima O/L 1.28 0.62 96.77 48 46.88
5 Left and right panel ts and tc Mena F/L 0.62 0.55 109.09 89 97.30
6 Front part panel join & tc Ronju O/L 0.78 0.5 120.00 64 76.60
7 Front part panel ts & tc Monzilla L/S 0.53 0.3 200.00 57 113.92
8 Left & right panel join Amina O/L 0.82 0.62 96.77 76 73.47
9 Left and right panel join Sahina O/L 0.79 0.62 96.77 78 75.95
10 Left and right panel ts & tc Nurbanu F/L 0.53 0.55 109.09 103 112.50
11 Shoulder panel join Lima O/L 0.94 0.43 139.53 46 63.60
12 Shoulder panel ts Alima F/L 0.88 0.42 142.86 48 68.18
13 Shoulder join Rojina O/L 0.92 0.59 101.69 64 65.45
14 Sleeve panel make Morina O/L 0.64 0.45 133.33 70 93.26
15 Sleeve panel top stitch & tc Sokina F/L 0.47 0.49 122.45 104 126.76
16 Sleeve hem Momina F/L 0.42 0.3 200.00 71 141.73
17 Collar make Pervin L/S 0.79 0.63 95.24 80 75.95
18 Collar twill tape attach Rebeka L/S 0.26 0.22 272.73 85 230.77
19 Collar serving Roksana O/L 0.43 0.39 153.85 90 138.46
20 Zipper twill tape make Sabina L/S 0.88 0.42 142.86 48 68.44
21 Zipper twill tape attach Rojina L/S 0.87 0.5 120.00 57 68.97
22 Zipper holding tuck Bobita L/S 0.66 0.3 200.00 45 90.91
23 Zipper patch attach at bottom Shahanara L/S 0.45 0.57 105.26 127 133.33
24 Collar join Sabina L/S 1.77 0.78 76.92 44 33.90
25 Collar join Shahila L/S 1.99 0.78 76.92 39 30.15
26 Zipper tuck with body Naher L/S 0.36 0.42 142.86 118 168.22
27 Zipper join with left side Halima L/S 0.58 0.5 120.00 86 103.45
28 Zipper join right side Orchona L/S 0.76 0.69 86.96 90 78.60
29 Zipper facing join Beauty L/S 0.66 0.5 120.00 76 90.91
30 Zipper facing o/l Sharmin O/L 0.36 0.3 200.00 83 165.14
        Max Theoretical output 76.92 practical output 30 pcs

Table 2. Breakdown of Plain machines before rearrangement.

SL Process Name Name M/c Type Performed SMV Efficiency
7 Front part panel ts & tc Monzilla L/S 0.53 57%
17 Collar make Pervin L/S 0.79 80%
18 Collar twill tape attach Rebeka L/S 0.26 85%
20 Zipper twill tape make Sabina L/S 0.88 48%
21 Zipper twill ta[e attach Rojina L/S 0.87 57%
22 Zipper holding tuck Bobita L/S 0.66 45%
23 Zipper patch attach at bottom Shahanara L/S 0.45 127%
24 Collar join Sabina L/S 1.77 44%
25 Collar join Shahila L/S 1.99 39%
26 Zipper tuck with body Naher L/S 0.36 118%
27 Zipper join with left side Halima L/S 0.58 86%
28 Zipper join right side Orchona L/S 0.76 90%
29 Zipper facing join Beauty L/S 0.66 76%

Table 3. Breakdown of Plain machines after rearrangement.

SL Process Name Name M/c Type Performed SMV Efficiency
18 Collar twill tape attach Shahila L/S 0.26 39%
26 Zipper tuck with body Sabina L/S 0.36 44%
23 Zipper patch attach at bottom Bobita L/S 0.45 45%
7 Front part panel ts & tc Sabina L/S 0.53 48%
27 Zipper join with left side Monzilla L/S 0.58 57%
22 Zipper holding tuck Rojina L/S 0.66 57%
29 Zipper facing join Beauty L/S 0.66 76%
28 Zipper join right side Pervin L/S 0.76 80%
17 Collar make Rebeka L/S 0.79 85%
21 Zipper twill tape attach Halima L/S 0.87 86%
20 Zipper twill tape make Orchona L/S 0.88 90%
24 Collar join Naher L/S 1.77 118%
25 Collar join Shahanara L/S 1.99 127%

Table 4. Breakdown of Overlock machines before rearrangement.

SN Process Name Name M/c Type Performed SMV Efficiency
1 Back part panel join Jarna O/L 0.64 96%
3 Left and right panel join Hasina O/L 1.72 36%
4 Left and right panel join Eima O/L 1.28 48%
6 Front part panel join & tc Ronju O/L 0.78 64%
8 Left & right panel join Amina O/L 0.82 76%
9 Left and right panel join Sahina O/L 0.79 78%
11 Shoulder panel join Lima O/L 0.94 46%
13 Shoulder join Rojina O/L 0.92 64%
14 Sleeve panel make Morina O/L 0.64 70%
19 Collar serving Roksana O/L 0.43 90%
30 Zipper facing o/l Sharmin O/L 0.36 83%

Table 5. Breakdown of Overlock machines after rearrangement.

SN Process Name Name M/c Type Performed SMV Efficiency
30 Zipper facing o/l Hasina O/L 0.36 36%
19 Collar serving Lima O/L 0.43 46%
14 Sleeve panel make Eima O/L 0.64 48%
1 Back part panel join Ronju O/L 0.64 64%
6 Front part panel join & tc Rojina O/L 0.78 64%
9 Left and right panel join Morina O/L 0.79 70%
8 Left & right panel join Amina O/L 0.82 76%
13 Shoulder join Sahina O/L 0.92 78%
11 Shoulder panel join Sharmin O/L 0.94 83%
4 Left and right panel join Roksana O/L 1.28 90%
3 Left and right panel join Jarna O/L 1.72 96%

Table 6. Breakdown of Flat lock machines before rearrangement.

SN Process Name Name M/c Type Performed SMV Efficiency
2 Back panel ts tc Naher F/L 0.35 87%
5 Left and right panel ts and tc Mena F/L 0.62 89%
10 Left and right panel ts & tc Nurbanu F/L 0.53 103%
12 Shoulder panel ts Alima F/L 0.88 48%
15 Sleeve panel top stitch & tc Sokina F/L 0.47 104%
16 Sleeve hem Momina F/L 0.42 71%

Table 7. Breakdown of Flat lock machines after rearrangement.

SN Process Name Name m/c Performed SMV Efficiency
2 Back panel ts tc Alima F/L 0.35 48%
16 Sleeve hem Momina F/L 0.42 71%
15 Sleeve panel top stitch & tc Naher F/L 0.47 87%
10 Left and right panel ts & tc Mena F/L 0.53 89%
5 Left and right panel ts and tc Nurbanu F/L 0.62 103%
12 Shoulder panel ts Sokina F/L 0.88 104%

Table 8. Operational Bulletin of Jacket after rearrangement.

SN Process Name Name M/c Type Performed SMV Efficiency % Output @ performed efficiency
1 Back part panel join Ronju O/L 0.64 48 46.45
2 Back panel ts tc Alima F/L 0.35 48 96.00
3 Left and right panel join Jarna O/L 1.72 96 92.90
4 Left and right panel join Roksana O/L 1.28 90 87.10
5 Left and right panel ts and tc Nurbanu F/L 0.62 71 77.45
6 Front part panel join & tc Rojina O/L 0.78 64 76.80
7 Front part panel ts & tc Sabina L/S 0.53 44 88.00
8 Left & right panel join Amina O/L 0.82 76 73.55
9 Left and right panel join Morina O/L 0.79 70 67.74
10 Left and right panel ts & tc Mena F/L 0.53 87 94.91
11 Shoulder panel join Sharmin O/L 0.94 83 115.81
12 Shoulder panel ts Sokina F/L 0.88 89 127.14
13 Shoulder join Sahina O/L 0.92 78 79.32
14 Sleeve panel make Eima O/L 0.64 64 85.33
15 Sleeve panel top stitch & tc Naher F/L 0.47 103 126.12
16 Sleeve hem Momina F/L 0.42 104 208.00
17 Collar make Rebeka L/S 0.79 86 81.90
18 Collar twill tape attach Shahila L/S 0.26 39 106.36
19 Collar serving Lima O/L 0.43 46 70.77
20 Zipper twill tape make Orchona L/S 0.88 48 68.57
21 Zipper twill tape attach Halima L/S 0.87 57 68.40
22 Zipper holding tuck Rojina L/S 0.66 45 90.00
23 Zipper patch attach at bottom Bobita L/S 0.45 85 89.47
24 Collar join Naher L/S 1.77 118 90.77
25 Collar join Shahanara L/S 1.99 127 97.69
26 Zipper tuck with body Sabina L/S 0.36 57 81.43
27 Zipper join with left side Monzilla L/S 0.58 76 91.20
28 Zipper join right side Pervin L/S 0.76 90 78.26
29 Zipper facing join Beauty L/S 0.66 80 96.00
30 Zipper facing o/l Hasina O/L 0.36 36 72.00

Practical output after rearrangement

Table 9. Final Practical output after sharing of work.

SN Process Name Name M/c Type Performed SMV Efficiency % Output @ performed efficiency
1 Back part panel join Raju O/L 0.64 48 46.45
1 Back part panel join Ronju O/L 0.64 48 46.45
2 Back panel ts tc Alima F/L 0.35 48 96.00
3 Left and right panel join Jarna O/L 1.72 96 92.90
4 Left and right panel join Roksana O/L 1.28 90 87.10
5 Left and right panel ts and tc Nurbanu F/L 0.62 71 77.45
6 Front part panel join & tc Rojina O/L 0.78 64 76.80
7 Front part panel ts & tc Sabina L/S 0.53 44 88.00
8 Left & right panel join Amina O/L 0.82 76 73.55
9 Left and right panel join Morina O/L 0.79 70 67.74
10 Left and right panel ts & tc Mena F/L 0.53 87 94.91
11 Shoulder panel join Sharmin O/L 0.94 83 115.81
12 Shoulder panel ts Sokina F/L 0.88 89 127.14
13 Shoulder join Sahina O/L 0.92 78 79.32
14 Sleeve panel make Eima O/L 0.64 64 85.33
15 Sleeve panel top stitch & tc Naher F/L 0.47 103 126.12
16 Sleeve hem Momina F/L 0.42 104 208.00
17 Collar make Rebeka L/S 0.79 86 81.90
18 Collar twill tape attach Shahila L/S 0.26 39 106.36
19 Collar serving Lima O/L 0.43 46 70.77
20 Zipper twill tape make Orchona L/S 0.88 48 68.57
21 Zipper twill tape attach Halima L/S 0.87 57 68.40
22 Zipper holding tuck Rojina L/S 0.66 45 90.00
23 Zipper patch attach at bottom Bobita L/S 0.45 85 89.47
24 Collar join Naher L/S 1.77 118 90.77
25 Collar join Shahanara L/S 1.99 127 97.69
26 Zipper tuck with body Sabina L/S 0.36 57 81.43
27 Zipper join with left side Monzilla L/S 0.58 76 91.20
28 Zipper join right side Pervin L/S 0.76 90 78.26
29 Zipper facing join Beauty L/S 0.66 80 96.00
30 Zipper facing o/l Hasina O/L 0.36 36 72.00

Final Practical output (after sharing of work)

Table 10. Comparison of production before & after study.

Parameter Before Rearrangement After Rearrangement After sharing of work
No of m/c 30 30 31
No of manpower 30 30 31
Output per hr 30 46 68

5. Results & Discussion

Changing from traditional layout to balanced layout model by proper allocation of workers, there are considerable improvements have moved towards us. With final scenario, the best performance results were obtained as summarized in table 10. The average hourly output of the system increased from 30 to 68 pieces. With reference to scenario, it can be said that the balance of sewing line seems appropriate for all performance measures.

6. Conclusion

Skill matrix helps in allocating right person for the right job which helps in achieving desired performance level. It keeps record of all operations an operator had done in the past and efficiency level in each operation. Engineers / line supervisors need minimum time to find and select most efficient operators for an operation from the pull of operators. For line balancing, operators can be selected according to work content. When someone is absent, supervisor can easily find suitable person from the skill matrix table and replace. To analyses the skill availability and distribution throughout the factory. This can be compared with the skill requirement for a particular time period and shortage/excess skill availability to achieve at the training requirement. So productivity can be achieved by allocating skill & semi-skilled workers to the right place and unskilled operator should be trained properly.


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