Do you work in a garment importing business, and wonder what quality control software your inspectors can use? We’ll go over the key considerations you should have in mind for IT tools to support garment inspections in this article...
When garment importers are considering quality control software for their inspection teams, the following points are important to keep in mind:
Provide very easy-to-use IT tools
The garment industry in general is not on the lookout for bleeding-edge technologies. Frankly, many garment quality inspectors still work with pen and paper, like their predecessors of 40 years ago.
In contrast, in the electronic industry, inspectors are used to seeing automated testing on assembly & packing lines, bar codes scanners, RFID scanners, and so on. They are much more open minded about the ways technology can help.
What it means is, any IT tool you give a garment inspector team should be very simple. It should not look high-tech, and it should not require 4 hours of training in a classroom.
Outline QC procedure: Not going into the details first
One bad habit I see again and again with Chinese inspectors is their rush to check the details, one by one, and take the photos they will include in the report. First they should take a couple of steps back.
First step: They should be guided through a systematic way of first looking at the garments as they are unpacked, as they are still on the hanger, as they get laid flat on a table, as they are compared with the golden samples, and so on.
This means moving away from “free style” inspections. An IT tools that guides the inspector gently down the procedure is of great help.
Second step: The inspectors need to be trained to focus on the product at hand and use a bit of inductive reasoning. With the variety of fabrics, accessories, and stitching methods, that are used in this industry, it is really important that inspectors get trained to think “what might have gone wrong?” at one point during their workday.
Quality inspection software won’t help here, except if a technician/designer/modelist did this exercise earlier and wrote down a few potential failure points – and this note has to be relayed to the inspector. It should become a checkpoint(s) in the QC job.
Prepare the size charts for inspectors to write their findings
From our experience, most garment importers prepare technical packs in Excel for their garment inspections. They may look like this:
Many companies simply insert a few more columns, to make space for the inspector to write his/her findings. They would look like this:
While it is a workable solution, it is far from perfect. The numbers have to be typed in Excel, and that takes time. Since switching from measuring to typing takes time, the inspector often keeps 5-7 findings in memory … and typically makes many errors due to this.
There are solutions.
In the case of SynControl, we do a simple script that converts the data into our preferred format (see below) and then the data can be imported into the database in one click:
Once the data are imported, they can be displayed in various interfaces on a tablet/smartphone. Which leads us to the next topic.
Speed up input: Many measurements for inspectors to take
Can inputting measurements via an IT tools be faster than in a pen & paper system?
The key is to allow for very fast input. We are sure that different software vendors have fine-tuned their own interface for entering measurements fast, but it is possible. However, you might have to live when an intermediary situation– measurements still written by hand and then taken in photo, while other aspects of the inspection are done with the support of specialized software – for a few months.
Give your QC team an easy-to-use quality control software with an intuitive interface, make sure their process makes sense and is supported by the new software, and migrate the team one step at a time on their new quality inspection software tool.
Have you found a good solution? What works well, and what are your challenges? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below, and we'll be happy to respond.