A comparative study of the flexibility of three types of apparel production systems to variations in collar designs

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


The purpose of this study was to examine and compare the flexibilities of three apparel production systems to variations in products manufactured on them. The production system used by a company was determined based on five system attributes (i.e., type of workflow, level of WIP inventory, number of tasks, mode of transportation between workstations, and level of interaction between operators). The product line of the company (i.e., staple, semi-staple, fashion, and high-fashion) was determined based on the number and type of collar designs manufactured by the company. Flexibility of a system was determined by the range of collar designs manufactured by the system.

A stratified proportionate random sample of manufacturers producing men's and women's shirts and blouses was selected for the survey. The questionnaire was pilot tested for content validity and reliability. The adjusted response rate was 39% (n = 52). Non-parametric tests were performed to test the statistical significance of the hypothesized relationships.

Three production systems (i.e., bundle system, progressive bundle system [PBS], and modular system) were compared for their volume of production. The size of the company (i.e., number of employees and the total volume of production) was compared between the three production systems.

The five system attributes were found to be significantly related to the system used. The procedure adopted for determining the product line of the company was also found to be significant. The relationship between production systems and product lines was significant in some of the cases and not significant in others. PBS was found to be most flexible due to its ability to accommodate a greater style variation followed by bundle system and modular system. The relationship between production systems and the volume of production and also between the system and the size of the company were not significant.