Archives 6/11- 6/17 2005-2009

It occurred to me to ask if this means anything to you, I don’t know how many people know these things anymore. Call it curiosity on my part and a puzzle on yours. Scenario:

In a meeting with a new client yesterday, we were discussing possibilities for shifting things around in his factory (he wants to expand). I made what seemed to be the most obvious suggestions but I was puzzled and thought to myself -why wouldn’t he know? He’s a smart guy and he’s been a garmento for 25 years. It wasn’t making sense until Client said, “my building isn’t shaped like a ____, it’s shaped like a ______”. In unison and surprise, my companion (another garmento) and I said “oh”. I changed the subject by asking him about something else (rotary converters) because there was nothing else to say.

The questions to tease yourself with this weekend are, why does building shape matter? What shape should a factory be?

And as ever, here’s this week’s entries from the archives. Have a great weekend.

June 11, through June 17, 2005
Vintage German Patterns
Discussion Forum
Misc Pattern Tip: trim darts
Solar Fest, Taos NM (June 24-26)
RTW complaints: forum
Zippered welt pockets

June 11, through June 17, 2006
Constructing Sparkle
Management Software pt.2
20 Questions
Fit model’s blog
Sell through guarantees?
Guilt Cloth
Shirt making tips

June 11, through June 17, 2007
How to engage buyers at trade shows
Who do you hang with?
What will become of us? pt.2
Happy Birthday Kathleen
Who do you hang with? pt.2
Who do you hang with? pt.3
News from you 6/15/2007

June 11, through June 17, 2008
To pin or not to pin
I.D. and O.D.
Vanity sizing: generational edition
It all stops here 1
How to issue style numbers pt.130

June 11, through June 17, 2009
What to do if a competitor orders your product
Training Within Industry (TWI) pt.3
Silver City Vintage
How to write garment & product descriptions
Pattern Puzzle: Harem pants

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  1. I’m thinking that a nice factory layout would tend to be rectangular so that inputs are at one end and outputs are on the other.

    But maybe a square is better for expansion so you can have inputs on one end and then parallel rows of cutting tables and sewing pods.

    Worst would be an office building layout with the HVAC and elevators in the middle, making the work floor a square doughnut.

  2. JustGail says:

    I know that on a small scale, the shape of a room (and window & door locations) greatly affect how it can be set up for a sewing room. I’d imagine it’s not much different for a garment business. I can see where a rectangle would be nice, and a square donut more difficult. What about an L or U shape or round (not that round buildings are very common). Although, I’d think it would be nice to have the work flow (not neccearily the building itself) in a U shape, so that both raw materials and finished goods end up close to the shipping area. I look forward to the answer!

  3. Paul says:

    I’m coming at this from the perspective of an engineer that has worked with industial/manufacturing clients (not garments, things like sheet metal boxes, computers, etc. but it’s all the same) going through major factory reorganization or “rationalization” as the industrial engineers call it. There are just so many factors, many noted by JustGail. Shape may not make as much difference as ‘aspect ratio’ (length to width) relative to the limiting width and length of various process elements. Sometimes you can add 6 feet to the width or length, but it does you no good at all because your process grows in 20 foot increments.

    My guess is that the building is L shaped rather than rectangular, and I recall Kathleen saying that an efficient cutting table is at least 100 feet long. Or on more than one floor, or in two or more buildings? The key is to limit uneccessary handling and movement of materials, regardless of building shape. Each step in the process (material receiving, raw goods storage, on through final finishing/packaging and shipping) would have its finish point adjacent to the start point of the next process. Since shipping and receiving are both at the dock, the whole process ends where it starts.

    Seems obvious and logical and very textbook, but what happens in real life is that as things change, are added, or removed over time, people just expand into the next available empty space rather than rearrange to keep the whole thing most efficient. It seems too disruptive to rearrange. So you end up with a really bad arrangement and materials are moved a long way from each step to the next, and you have to go through a major/expensive project, or keep on being inefficent.

  4. Marie-Christine says:

    It seems to me that if expansion is being considered anyway, and the shape of the building is a problem, then any plan ought to start by making sure that it’s truly not possible to move to a better-shape building..

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