A lot is on the line every time an order goes out to a factory— including timelines, relationships, brand integrity, and of course money. And all of it could be put in jeopardy if the resulting goods are poor quality. But rather than being treated as a linchpin to the industry’s success, quality is too often relegated to the sidelines or viewed as an expense rather than an investment—and the resulting issues related to defects in finished goods highlight the problem with this approach.
Defects are an insidious problem that siphon both time and money from apparel firms each season. Using data derived from an exclusive Sourcing Journal survey, this report calculates just how much quality control measures are costing the apparel industry in terms of both days and dollars. It also highlights the ways in which inconsistencies in product quality create a domino effect throughout the supply chain and how the current processes designed to correct for that actually undermine overall industry eff orts toward efficiency and speed.
While the survey respondents enumerated many causes for the current predicament, ultimately they said problems are often caused when quality is:
- Misunderstood or overlooked by the C-Suite
- Stuck in the past, relying on old technology or antiquated measures of success
- Sacrificed in favour of speed and cost concerns
The feedback derived from the industry-wide survey also revealed the frustration industry insiders sometimes feel about the way their companies or their supply chain partners address quality. While only 23 percent admitted that their companies will sacrifice quality to get the right price, those polled were very vocal in the variety of ways they do just that every day.
Additionally, 75 percent say they’re challenged by speed to market, prompting respondents to comment on how shorter timelines negatively impact their company’s quality efforts. Respondent comments repeatedly noted how “shortening lead times and downward price pressures” threaten margins, create bottlenecks and lead to the need for more manpower in the inspections process.
If there is one universal theme to the survey results, it is that the industry needs to re-examine how it views quality, how it is dealt with and the ways in which it is a direct result of every decision that’s made on the way to creating goods from start to finish.
Gary Ross, president of GE Ross Consulting LLC, said that from his decades-long career, it is clear that many of the time and money losses incurred with every production run could be avoided with a change in mindset. “It’s process control,” he said. “Engineering quality in up front will save pain in the back end.”