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Quality Approaches for Mass-Produced Fashion: A Study in Malaysian Garment Manufacturing

Authors: N. J. M. Yusof, T. Sabir, J. McLoughlin


The garment manufacturing industry involves sequential processes that are subjected to uncontrollable variations. The industry depends on the skill of labour in handling the varieties of fabrics and accessories, machines, as well as complicated sewing operation. Due to these reasons, garment manufacturers have created systems to monitor and to control the quality of the products on a regular basis by conducting quality approaches to minimize variation. With that, the aim of this research has been to ascertain the quality approaches deployed by Malaysian garment manufacturers in three key areas - quality systems and tools; quality control and types of inspection; as well as sampling procedures chosen for garment inspection. Besides, the focus of this research was to distinguish the quality approaches adopted by companies that supplied finished garments to both domestic and international markets. Feedback from each company representative has been obtained via online survey, which comprised of five sections and 44 questions on the organizational profile and the quality approaches employed in the garment industry. As a result, the response rate was 31%. The results revealed that almost all companies have established their own mechanism of process control by conducting a series of quality inspections for daily production, either it was formally set up or otherwise. In addition, quality inspection has been the predominant quality control activity in the garment manufacturing, while the level of complexity of these activities was substantially dictated by the customers. Moreover, AQL-based sampling was utilized by companies dealing with exports, whilst almost all the companies that only concentrated on the domestic market were comfortable using their own sampling procedures for garment inspection. Hence, this research has provided insights into the implementation of a number of quality approaches that were perceived as important and useful in the garment manufacturing sector, which is truly labour-intensive.

Keywords: Inspection, Garment Manufacturing, quality approaches, Acceptance Quality Limit (AQL), quality control, and sampling

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