Fabric grouping is the process where different rolls of fabric are separated and grouped based on their specifications and other physical properties. The primary purpose of fabric grouping is to maximize fabric utilization and minimize cutting time. Ordering bulk fabrics means getting several rolls of fabric with varying lengths, shades, widths, and even shrinkage levels. Fabric grouping ensures optimum fabric utilization as well as cutting room performance to avoid wastage.
Fabric grouping is considered one of the key factors when it comes to fabric utilization. Different fabrics need to be treated differently, to get consistent results. These fabrics also react differently during the garment-making process. This raises the need to group bulk fabrics based on their physical characteristics before processing them into garments.
Here are a few important reasons every garments factory should consider fabric grouping-
Garment factories usually place bulk orders for fabrics, sometimes from different sources. These fabrics need to be grouped depending on their physical properties. This helps reduce wastage of fabric and faster processing time.
When the factory receives fabric rolls, they are segregated based on the following properties-
It goes without saying that a piece of garment with different shades is not a good-quality product. Shade variation is a clear indicator of a defective/poor-quality garment. This explains the need for fabric grouping based on shade, which prevents the mixing of garment components of different shades.
This cannot be avoided for all types of fabrics, particularly knitted fabrics. Cutting fabrics without taking into account the shrinkage factor may lead to your garment measurements going for a toss. It is important to know the fabric shrinkage percentage of a fabric roll so that when you cut the fabric, it can be factored into the design. This will leave room for some amount of shrinkage once the garment is washed, which is unavoidable in most cases.
Fabric rolls received by the factories usually vary in width. This difference in width needs to be segregated accordingly. With the same width fabrics grouped together, it makes it easier to prepare the markers for the cutting process. This results in minimum wastage and maximum fabric utilization. Factories can also utilize excess fabric for manufacturing other garments. This is one of the major advantages of fabric grouping based on width.
Fabric grouping is given high importance in garment factories for its advantages. For this reason, most factories have a certain process for grouping the fabric rolls received by them. Factories perform the following activities to check for fabric quality and similar fabrics are grouped together after the following tests are done-
The fabric rolls with similar characteristics are then grouped together and taken for further processing, which involves a marker and cutting process.
After segregating, the garment factory should handle the grouped fabric carefully. Each grouped fabric should be carefully labeled. Then, markers should be set according to the fabric width. Only then can fabric wastage be minimized.
Fabric grouping in garment factories is done in two ways-
In this process, the fabric is grouped manually and segregated according to its physical characteristics. These groups are then processed individually. For this, the factory workers have to set the markers and cut plans according to each group. This increases manual labor and processing time of the garments, and there are high chances of mistakes.
In this process, automated machines detect the fabric length and adjust the markers and cutters accordingly. Though this process is faster, it requires high automation, which may not be feasible for small factory owners.
Be it manual or automated, fabric grouping is extremely important in garment factories. Some of the characteristics of efficient fabric grouping are-
With so much significance given to fabric grouping, most of the time, garment factories may both have the resources or the time to test every fabric roll that comes from the fabric mill. This tedious process will not only result in a waste of time but will also lead to wastage of fabric as well.
In such cases, garment manufacturers must rely on the fabric mills to provide the necessary information regarding the fabric rolls supplied by them. Fabric mills are required to prepare quality reports of each fabric roll manufactured by them. These fabric quality reports contain crucial information regarding the fabric quality, shade, fabric thread count, fabric stretch count, fabric shrinkage, etc. Garment factory owners can rely on these reports to group the fabrics.
This saves a lot of time and effort for the garment factory owners, who would otherwise have to go through the tedious fabric testing process.
Other ways of fabric utilization-
The cost of fabric constitutes 60%-70% of the total garment cost. Fabric is the most significant and major raw material for a garments manufacturer. Therefore effective utilization of its most important resource will lead to an increase in profit margins.
Though fabric grouping is one way of reducing fabric wastage, there are many other ways to increase fabric utilization and thereby, savings for the manufacturer.
Here are a few ways in which maximum fabric utilization can be achieved-
Keeping a proper record of the quantity of fabric ordered and the quantity of fabric used each time will help reduce fabric wastage and also help avoid repetitive or excess purchase of fabrics than necessary
This is very important when it comes to effective fabric utilization. Proper cutting and marker setting will help make the best out of the fabric laid out. Whether it is done manually or through machines, this step is crucial to avoid fabric wastage. Factory workers should follow maximum marker length and height settings for maximum fabric utilization
As mentioned above, fabric grouping should be done before planning the cutting process to group similar fabrics and treat them accordingly. This will help workers set multiple markers for each fabric type, reducing wastage in the process.
A thorough quality check of the fabric will ensure that it is even without any defects or cuts. This will reduce ugly surprises during the cutting process, which will then be too late. This can have an impact on the quality of the garments.
Fabric that tends to shrink can harm the manufacturing process. It results in low-quality garments that are not true to size. Fabric that shrinks also requires additional wash before the cutting process, increasing manpower and turnaround time.
Excess fabric can be utilized in other ways. If a proper cutting plan is utilized, the excess fabric can be used to manufacture garments in smaller sizes as well. There are lots of other creative ideas that the factory owner can use to monetize the excess fabric left.
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