Lean Wastes in an Apparel Factories Context
For Upper Tier Factories (well managed apparel factories, with demonstrably well managed production and quality systems) the typical most frequently encountered wastes are: Non-Used Talent, Motion, and Over Processing.
These 3 wastes are common at well managed factories for 3 reasons (1) defects and other "lower level wastes" have been somewhat addressed by the factory already, (2) the common mistake of thinking held by many upper tier factories' managers that over processing is needed to ensure quality. These managers still fail to affect factory-floor systems that train and empower the lowest levels of management, possibly due to high employee turnover or other reasons, and (3) eliminating excess operator motion during the sewing process is probably the most difficult of the wastes to eliminate since it involves a total re-training of worker posture, materials-handling layout, and operator sewing related habits modification.
For Lower Tier Factories (less well managed apparel factories, with less well managed production and quality systems) the typical most frequently encountered wastes are: defects, transport, and waiting.
These 3 wastes are common at less well managed factories for 3 reasons (1) the factory is still not able to decrease defects. This can occur when the factory has high operator turnover, and/or line management personnel (Line Leaders, Line Tech) who systematically do not use that data to improve the line to reduce defects, (2) there is no system to control bundles input into the line, and to propel those bundles forward one-at-a-time, reducing WIP builtup, and (3) line change over process is still presenting to these lower tier factories severe challenges of long, drawn out change overs, which force the line to virtually stop for several hours or even days at some factories.
The good news is that all the wastes can be reduced through proper training and management, and profitability through increased productivity can easily be achieved if the process to do it is well led by an experienced person.