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Modular Production System A modular production system is a contained, manageable work unit that includes an empowered work team,

equipment, and work to be executed. The number of teams in a plant varies with the size and needs of the firm and product line. Teams may be used to perform all the operations or a certain portion of the assembly operations depending on the organisation of the module and processes required. Before a firm can establish a modular production system, it must prioritise its goals and make decisions that reflect the needs of the firm. With a teambased system operators are given the responsibility for operating their module to meet goals for throughput and quality. The team is responsible for maintaining a smooth work flow, meeting production goals, maintaining a specified quality level, and handling motivational support for the team. Team members develop an interdependency to improve the process and accomplish their goals. Interdependency is the relationship among team members that utilises everyone's strengths for the betterment of the team. Workflow in Modular Production A Modular Production System operates as a Pull System, with demand for work coming from the next operator in line to process the garment. Wastage is normal, and workflow is continuous and does not wait ahead of each operation. This increases the potentials for flexibility of styles and quantities of products that can be produced. Workflow within a module may be with a Single-piece hand-off, Kanban, or Bump-back system. If a single-piece hand-off is used, machines are arranged in a very tight configuration. As soon as an operation is completed the part is handed to the next operator for processing. Operations need to be well balanced as there is usually only one garment component between each operation. Some modules may operate with a buffer or small bundle of up to ten pieces of work between operators. If a small bundle is used, an operator will complete the operation on the entire bundle and carry the bundle to the next operation. An operator may follow a component or bundle for as many operations as they have been trained or until the adjacent operator is ready to assume work on the bundle. A Kanban uses a designated work space between operations to balance supply with demand. The designated space will hold a limited number of completed components (two or three) in queue for the next operation. If the designated space is full, there is no need to produce more until it is needed or the space empties. This limit builds up of product ahead of the next operation. When the space is full the operator can assist with other operations that may be slow. The bump-back or TSS (Toyota Sewing System) approach was developed by the Toyota Sewn Product Management System and is probably the most widely used type of teambased manufacturing. It is a stand-up module with flexible work zones and cross-trained operators. Operators may be cross-trained on up to four different successive operations. This enables operators to shift from operation to operation until the next operator is ready to begin work on the garment. The operator needing work steps to the beginning of the

zone and takes over the processing at whatever point it is in the production process. The operator who has been relieved of the garment will then move back to the beginning of the work zone and take over work on another garment. This approach enables continuous work on a garment and allows each operator to perform several different operations. This arrangement frequently uses a 4-to-l ratio of machines to operators. Advantages:

High flexibility Fast throughput times Low wastages Reduced absenteeism Reduced Repetitive Motion Ailments Increased employee ownership of the production process Empowered employees Improved Quality

Disadvantages:

A high capital investment in equipment. High investment in initial training. High cost incurred in continued training

Conclusion The main aim of any production system is to make the total production time as small as possible. The choice of the production system highly depends on the volume of production and the strategy of production. Basic goods can be manufactured in large quantities, with large cuttings, work bundles, and limited fabric, colour, and trim variation. For basic goods, a traditional production system such as progressive bundle system can be adopted. The modular system or some type of flexible manufacturing can be adopted for the production of fashion goods. Considering the required capital and training for production system changes, transition from the traditional production system to a flexible manufacturing system is limited for most apparel manufacturers. Some firms may also use the combination of the production systems -- the progressive bundle system for producing small parts combined with modular production for garment assembly. This reduces the investment in specialised equipment and reduces the team size needed. Some industry consultants believe that a modular system combined with a unit production system provides the most flexibility, fastest throughput, and most consistent quality. This would be particularly useful for large items such as coveralls or heavy coats. The UPS would move the garment instead of the operators. Each manufacturer needs to determine what is best for its product line and production requirements