Namat (formerly, Nesma Embroidery and Tailoring Center) is a non-profit enterprise, specialized in producing garments for greater social good. Founded by Nesma Holding Company as a strategic Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative, Namat operates a network of tailoring centers across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with the aim of integrating rural communities into the folds of the Saudi economy. Each center operated by Namat is sponsored by a private sector partner to empower local communities, by creating jobs for women. Today (2020), Namat operates 4 main hubs in Jeddah, Thuwal, Dammam and Khulais. Namat’s products and services cater for small and large businesses, including the production of designer collections, as well as a broad spectrum of uniforms for students, staff and workers. By collaborating with Namat, businesses are enabled to make ethical production choices, receiving locally manufactured high-quality, customizable and functional garments.
Aligned with the goals of Vision 2030, Namat is focused on increasing employment opportunities for women and promoting social development across the Kingdom, contributing to economic prosperity and overall social livelihood.
Critical to achieving its goals is for Namat to have sustainable business model at the heart of its operations. In order to achieve this, the organization was seeking to improve its processes, particularly those related to the Customer-to-Customer Process from the receiving of customer orders to their fulfillment through production and shipping.
When Four Principles’ took on the project, the initial phase was to conduct a current state analysis from which a list of areas of improvements were outlined.
The main issue identified was that the total throughput time, or the time it takes to transform a raw material into a finished good, was measured as 9 working days, while the cycle time, or the time it takes to complete the production of one unit from start to finish assuming no interruptions, was measured as only 1 hour (1.49% of the throughput time). This was mainly due to lack of planning and cross-functional training resulting in poor flexibility and disconnected processes organized by technology rather than by product. The additional effects of the production system observed were high work in progress, delayed deliveries, unclarity on the status of a job order and high amount of walking and inefficiency for the employees.
The consultants also realized that there were no tools being implemented for shop floor management and job status tracking, therefore hindering the ability to plan and execute production orders efficiently and on time. Furthermore, no KPIs (Key Performance Indicator) were installed to measure performance of operations.
On the customer side, promised delivery lead times appeared to be too long and often unreliable as they were calculated based on assumptions and production orders not being tracked at the shop floor.
After identifying these main areas of improvements, Four Principles began by (1) conducting a Value Stream Analysis (VSA) with the designated cross functional teams appointed by Namat, to understand the material and information flow and identify where the core issues lie. Followed by (2) the collection and analysis of data. The main data analyzed was the production lead time, the identification of stock points to assess where the material flow stops, the assessment of employee’s utilization and walking paths and finally, the assessment of workers’ skills. Most of the data was collected through direct observations at the shop floor where the actual performance could be both measured and observed. Thirdly (3) a future state was designed with solutions to improve the material flow, the shop floor control, the operators cross functional training and thus, improve lead times and ensure on time deliveries.
The cross functional project team was involved through all project phases and it included representatives from Sales, Product Design, Procurement, Operators and the Operations Manager. The consultants began by training the team to recognize inefficiencies and wasteful activities autonomously as well as supervised them in identifying areas of improvement autonomously directly on the shop floor. This exercise was very successful in creating awareness about the inefficiencies and a sense of need for improvement while led to the project team quickly beginning to suggest improvements by themselves. These improvements were turned into structured solutions from where the future state was derived and a prioritized implementation plan was draft together with KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to track improvements.
The main solutions identified for the future state can be summarized as follows:
- Connect processes in production through a ‘flow line’ (layout re-design) in order to speed throughput time and avoid unnecessary walking of employees
- Improve material readiness, production planning and production scheduling through the implementation of visual tools
- Increase cross availability of skills through the implementation of a skill matrix and the deployment of a training plan
- Install a ‘Milk run’ system to feed material and information to/from production stations to improve availability of material and maximize employee productivity
The design and implementation of a future state presented several challenges, the first of which was designing processes suitable for people who are physically challenged and not used to following specific standards. One example, while installing a daily meeting to manage performance at a production line: many workers, including the line supervisor, are speech-and-hearing impaired and, therefore, the team had to come up with visual solutions to enable the meeting. The end goal and result was not only to improve line management but also to empower all workers in the line steering process.
An additional challenge was the need to completely review roles, responsibilities and processes of the employees involved in production therefore changing consolidated practices. This was met with initial resistance from the employees who were used to working at their own rhythm and without cross departmental coordination. This was solved by connecting production steps and balancing workload which resulted in clear allocation of tasks and the line operating at a pre-defined ‘rhythm’.
Due to the improvements implemented, the company production output quadrupled while using the same resources and without increasing any individual’s effort.
Among the several results reached at the end of the pilot project:
- Sewing productivity (pcs/person/day) was increased by 292%
- Embroidery productivity (pcs/person/day) was increased by 1,513%
- Embroidery output (pcs/day) increased by 513%
- Production throughput time (days)reduced by 94%
- Production output increased by 4.1 times
- A quality management system was installed
- DDS (Daily Direction Settings) meetings were installed at both the production lines to measure KPIs and involve operators in the continuous improvement to ensure sustainability of results
- The mentality of the operators was changed: they are now more competitive; they pay attention to quality and they care about the cleanliness of the workplace
The methods developed at the first pilot facility were standardized into a production system and implemented through all other facilities with the support of the consultants. Some minor changes were required to adapt the implementation to the specific product portfolio and layout of the different sites however, the same magnitude of results was achieved.
The Lean production system implemented at the existing plants comprises a standard layout and management system that can be easily, quickly and effectively applied to new plants providing the same operational results. Namat can now scale up its operations sustainably and quickly and thus implement its vision.
We were able to achieve something that we thought is beyond our abilities
We have increased our output from that machine by 20% and the availability of the machine by 32%
We were able to achieve a 47% space reduction in our production areas and warehouses
Improved manpower utilization
We have managed to avoid losses of over 300 productive manpower hours per month
Reduced customer waiting times
We reduced the time the customer spent waiting in our reception area by 55%
Sustainable cost reduction
We achieved product cost reductions of up to 7% and have also reduced our inventory over 60%
Better Space Utilization
We managed to reduce our inventory which resulted in a 28% space reduction in the distribution center and the branches
Significant Lead Time Improvements
Transfer of vehicles from and to branches dropped from 15 days to 1 day and the insurance approval lead time from 7 days to half a day
Retail Sector Sustainable Improvements
The in-store inventory was reduced by over 30% while maintaining an availability of core items of over 99%
Reduced lead times
We were able to reduce our lead times by 43%, which means we were able to produce almost the same amount of products in half the time
A Clear Structured Approach
With Lean we are now structured and work systemically and that ensures quality, besides efficiency and productivity
Take-out customer wait times dropped from over 20 min to below 2 min
We have completed implementation of the Lean principles on more than 50% of our machines. Our indicators are very positive with machine output varying between 17% and almost 90% improvement
Final result was that our sales net promoter score increased by 25% and the service net promoter score increased by 5%
The real success
We can now produce for customers based on demand, and this ability and flexibility allows us to save time and money. That’s the real success here
The Perfect Store
Today, the entire Zohoor Alreef team has understood through Lean that the “Perfect Store” is a shared aspiration that can only be achieved through Kaizen or continuous improvement.
Short delivery times
We improved the preparation time for home delivery orders and dropped it from 31 minutes to 16 minutes
Improved on-time delivery
We improved on-time delivery to the guests by 113%