The percentages of various costs which add up to give the garment cost are as follows: raw material cost 50
%, direct labour cost 20%, indirect labour charges and factory overheads
30%. The relative cost of raw material is the point of discussion here. The
raw materials include fabrics, sewing thread, trims and accessories (button,
zipper, fusible interlining, embroidery, bidding, labels, narrow fabrics,
motifs, etc) used in the garment. The raw material cost ranges from 40% for
hosiery to 60% for lingerie. The cost of fabrics is 80% of the cost of raw
material. Though all materials are important for the garment, the fabric
being the dominant among the cost factors should be managed properly. It can
save many dollars if properly managed.
Mostly all the
papers and research works are based on improving the marker efficiency. But
very few work or research has been done to reduce the fabric losses outside
the marker. For proper costing of a garment, and cost reduction, it is
necessary to have good understanding of the fabric utilisation and various
fabric losses that occur during garment production. In this article, the
fabric utilisation and the various fabric losses that occur in garment
production are being discussed.
Before discussing about the fabric
utilisation, one should have knowledge about various widths of fabric used
in garment production. The fabrics can be broadly divided into the following
1.Tubular Knitted Fabric:
These fabrics are produced by circular
knitting machines and may or may not be slit after production. If a slit is
made, then it falls in the category of 2 or 3 discussed below, otherwise it
is spread and cut in tubular form. Mainly the underwear and leisurewear
falls under this category and the fabric width corresponds to the dimensions
of the body panels as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Tubular Knitted
2. Narrow Open-width Fabric:
The fabrics having a width of one metre
fall under this category. The fabric width can accommodate two body pieces
during marker planning as shown in Figure 2. In this type of fabric, during
the pattern making process all the patterns for the medium size is done and
it is then graded to sizes above and below it. Then in the marker the
patterns are paired in such a way that the additional space occupied by the
larger pieces is compensated by the corresponding lesser space occupied by
smaller pieces. Maximum marker efficiency can be achieved if the numbers of
smaller pattern pieces in the garment are relatively more (eg, menís
shirt, ladies blouses etc.).
Figure 2. Narrow Open-width Fabric
This type of fabric is having a
width of 1.5 metre and three body pieces can be placed in the width of the
fabric as shown in Figure 3. In this type of fabric there is very wide room
to achieve maximum marker efficiency, as there is no constraint of fabric
width. The highest marker efficiency can be achieved for the garments having
large number of smaller parts as well as for the garments having relatively
Figure 3. Wide Open-width
Requirement of fabric in relation to garment style
Among the various processes of garment
production cutting is the major area where fabric waste is generated. In the
cutting room much attention should be given to reduce the fabric wastage.
One of the methods to minimise the fabric wastage is to prepare the most
efficient marker by the CAD system. A marker is a diagram of a precise
arrangement of pattern pieces for all the sizes of a specific style that are
to be cut from a single spread. Marker planning or marker making is the
process of judicious arrangement of pattern pieces according to the fabric
width for various sizes so that there is maximum fabric utilisation. The
process of getting the most efficient marker requires time, skill,
mathematical ability and concentration. Nowadays, the CAD systems support in
pattern digitizing, grading and marker making.
The number of
markers required, the number of complete patterns of each size in a marker,
and the number of ply that will be cut from each marker is decided according
to cut order planning. The most efficient size ratio is 1:2:2:1 (ie, a
marker may contain one small, two medium, two large and one extra large).
Additional markers may include only small and medium depending on the number
of pieces for which the order is received.
made according to the fabric width and the quantities of sizes. If the
marker is wider than the fabric width the patterns at the edge of the fabric
will be incomplete and if the marker is narrower than the fabric width,
there is fabric wastage. When the fabric width is highly inconsistent, the
fabrics in a lot may be grouped according to the width and different markers
are made for each group.
The quantity of fabric usage depends upon
the marker efficiency. Mathematically the marker efficiency is the
percentage of the total fabrics that is actually used in garment parts, ie,
efficiency = (Area of pattern pieces/Total fabric area)*100
the marker efficiency higher is the fabric usage. Expectations for marker
efficiency differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. The area in between the
pattern pieces, which is not used by garment parts, is waste. The area of
each pattern piece may be determined by a planimeter or computer. A
planimeter is a mechanical device that calculates the surface area as the
outline of the pattern is traced. The marker making software calculates the
combined area of all the pieces in the marker and the marker efficiency.
Marker efficiency is commonly affected by fabric characteristics, shapes of
pattern pieces, fabric utilisation standards and marker quality.
The marker provides the dominant
control of fabric usage minimizing the fabric loss. During the cutting
process two types of fabric losses occur, namely marking loss and spreading
loss. The marking loss arises due to the gap and the non-usable areas at
places between the pattern pieces of a marker. Marker efficiency indicates
the amount of marking loss. Spreading loss is the fabric loss outside the
marker. The various fabric losses outside the marker can be broadly
classified into different groups, namely ends of ply losses, ends of piece
losses, edge losses, splicing losses, remnant losses, ticket length losses,
etc, which are discussed below:
1.Ends of Ply Losses:
The flexibility, limpness and
extensibility of fabrics along with the limitation of spreading machinery
necessitate an allowance of some fabric at the end of each ply. These losses
may be up to 2 cm at each end or 4 cm per ply. In case of some stable
fabrics it may be less and for some unstable fabrics it may be more. The
ends of ply loss (Figure 4) is 1-2% of the total fabric usage. Higher is the
fabric length the lesser is the loss. If strong vigilance is not kept over
the spreading machine setting and material handling, there is a tendency for
the waste to become excessive. Standards should be established for this loss
in the cutting room and it should be monitored properly by efficient
2. Ends of Piece Losses:
In textile industry fabrics are
produced and processed in different batches. During finishing these fabric
ends are stitched together for continuous operation, which makes the fabric
ends unsuitable for use due to marks or distortions created. The lengths
affected should be as less as possible, ie, only a few centimetres. The most
important loss comes because the fabric length is not exact multiple of the
marker length. The spreader must either splice in the next piece, resulting
in a loss of fabric from the end of the piece to the nearest splice point,
or the part ply must be laid aside as a remnant and processed separately.
The ends of piece loss varies from 0.5-1% of the total fabric usage.
This loss is minimised if the average length of the pieces that are
purchased is increased. This strategy has a number of other advantages,
including the reduction in documentation, reduced levels of shade variation,
and higher productivity in spreading. However, the pieces are heavier and
investment in material handling equipment is often necessary. The ends of
piece losses cannot be eliminated completely, but it can be controlled by
establishing clear procedures for splicing and processing of the remnants.
This also requires good communication, training and systematic monitoring.
In normal practice during marker planning,
the width of the marker is kept a few centimetres less than the edge-to-edge
width of the fabric. The marker is made according to the usable width of the
fabric. The usable fabric width depends upon the quality of the selvedge,
the consistency of fabric width, and also on the precision of edge control
during spreading. Let the fabric edge-to-edge width is 100 cm, and the
marker width is 3 cm less than the fabric width. The edge loss is 3%. If the
fabric edge-to-edge width is 150 cm, the loss is 2%. Thus wider width
fabrics have other benefits besides improved marker efficiency.
fabric is exceptionally stable, it is possible for the marker width to be
only 2 cm less than the edge-to-edge fabric width. In such case the edge
loss with a 100 cm fabric is 2%. This simple calculation reveals that the
fabric loss outside the marker is very sensitive to the edge waste
allowances. Great care is needed to ensure that the allowance is not
excessive. Width variation in fabrics must be controlled alongside the edge
allowances. Most companies experience great difficulties because of
inconsistency of edge-to-edge fabric width in case of narrow width fabrics.
4. Splicing Losses:
Splicing is the process of overlapping
the cut ends (the end of one length of fabric and the beginning of another)
of two separate pieces of fabrics so that spreading can be continuous.
Splicing is necessary as one roll of fabric is finished and a new roll is
taken into use. Also during spreading there may be some objectionable fabric
faults, which make the product unsalable or substandard. These faults are
removed by cutting the lay at the fault point and incorporating splicing
position into marker plans. During splicing the splicing line should be so
selected that none of the pattern pieces contains the fault or is
incomplete. The distance between the splicing lines influences the amount of
waste produced. The average waste per splice will be approximately half the
average distance between splices lines. The distance between splice lines is
dependent on the dimensions of the marked panels and on the way they have
been positioned by the marker planner.
position of the splice lines also dependent on the quality of the fabric
being spread. If cutting out faulty material at the lay is a regular
requirement, it is vital that markers are provided with clearly defined
splice lines. A splicing allowance is made to ensure that only complete
panels are cut. While certain development with automatic spreading can
reduce this loss, splicing with manual spreading requires commitment and
consistency on the part of spreader to minimise waste.
clearly defined policy regarding splicing should be set by the management.
Factors to be considered include: quality of incoming fabric, the dimensions
of the patterns, the spreading technology in use and related procedure for
processing remnant lengths. This policy may vary according to local needs
and communication between the relevant parties is essential if integration
is to be successfully achieved. The splicing losses may vary up to 5% of the
total fabric usage.
5. Remnant Losses:
Remnant lengths are produced
whenever companies separate different shades of fabric pieces and lay up
only complete plies. Remnants may also be generated when short lengths of
material are left over after the completion of a lay, and are returned to
the stores. All remnants are put to one side and cut separately. Short
markers are made to obtain further garments from these lengths. There may be
single garment marked if the garment pieces are large, but more garments may
be marked if the garment pieces are small. The remnants left over after
cutting a remnant lay should be very short and if they are not unusable,
should be suitable only for re-cutting individual panels.
markers produced for remnant lays normally have a lower utilisation than the
production marker, mainly because the reduced number of garments marked
reduces the options open to the marker maker. Let the marker length is 10 m
and the average fabric length is 100 m, the average remnant length is
approximately 5 m. Thus 5 m out of every 100 m, or 5% of the total will be
processed at a reduced level of efficiency. As this figure is quite
significant, controls most be exercised over the sizes of the patterns that
are cut from remnants. Two alternatives for remnant lays are possible:
is processed with a new marker after the main production lays. One remnant
lay may be spread after every production lay, or the remnants may be
accumulated over a period of time and a deeper lay spread to reduce cutting
A step lay at
one end of the production marker, which enables all remnants to be cleared
with the main lay. This option is possible only if the marker maker prepares
the way. The production marker must have all the pieces for a single garment
at one end, so that after the main lay is complete, all the remnants can be
spread as a step lay at that end. There is no additional cutting cost, but
there may be difficulties with size ratios, as additional garments of one
particular size are cut with each lay. Remnant losses can be reduced by
utilising two or more production markers. For example if two markers are
available, one of 10m and the other of 8m, it is possible to allocate
individual pieces to specific markers so that the lengths of remnants is
minimised. Thus a piece of 91m would be allocated to the 10m marker, whereas
a piece of 97 m would be allocated to the 8 m marker. It is only feasible if
both production markers have acceptably high utilisations.
6.Ticket Length Losses:
Woven fabrics and some knitted fabrics are
sold by length. Each fabric piece is measured by the fabric supplier and a
ticket is attached to each piece indicating the length for which the
customer is invoiced. In many cases the gross length and the net length are
marked in the ticket. The gross length is the distance between the ends of
the fabric and the net length is the length for which the consumer is
paying. When there are errors in the measurement of these lengths they are
unlikely to be in favour of the purchaser. When the fabric is issued on the
basis of the ticket length, there can be fabric shortage against the costed
value. This loss can be reduced by inspecting the length of the incoming
fabric and reporting the fabric supplier in case of yardage short.
fabric is the major raw material in a garment, the saving of very less
amount of fabric per garment can save quite a large sum of rupees per annum,
which can increase the profit of the organisation substantially. It is
necessary for the management to have good understanding of the spreading
performance and the distribution of various types of fabric losses in the
cutting process for proper material management. Proper investigation of the
fabric losses during the cutting process can help the management to minimize
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The authors are with the
Technological Institute of Textile and Sciences, Bhiwani, Haryana.