Seamlessly Made in the USA By Immigrants

Suuchi Ramesh wants to bring apparel manufacturing back to the US with the help of immigrant seamstresses and technologists.

Ramesh’s supply chain start-up provides custom solutions for the garment industry including her own manufacturing services. Her software uses real-time data to coordinate the supply chain from customers to fabric suppliers and support the flexibility required in this industry.

Video Spotlight: Meet one of Suuchi’s customers

This post is based on the Forbes article, Meet the Indian Immigrant Working to Bring Apparel Manufacturing Back to the U.S., by J. Vinoski, April 1, 2019, and the YouTube video, Inside Suuchi Inc (ft. Irina Kapetanakis, Founder of Obscür Intimates), by Suuchi, Inc., March 20, 2019. Image source: © Michele Constantini

Discussion questions:

1. Why is flexibility a competitive priority in the garment industry?

Guidance: Fashion items have a very short product life cycle. A quick response to changes in demand, i.e. flexibility, is therefore necessary to compete. Unless there is close and timely communication throughout the supply chain, rapid changes in demand at one link of the chain can create a “bullwhip” effect with shortages, delays, and extra inventory, which are all very costly in the garment industry.

Flexible manufacturing processes are needed as well since fabrics and designs vary greatly, and skilled workmanship is needed to supplement standard, automated sewing operations.

2. How would you describe the sewing processes at Suuchi, Inc.?

Guidance: The processes involve a mix of standard and custom operations. The standard sewing operations are automated, whereas operations requiring special skills are manual. The islands of automation within the factory boost efficiency, and the trained seamstresses provide the flexibility required in garment manufacturing. Fully automated lines are currently too expensive and inflexible (same design, very high volume).

3. Explain the importance of workforce development in modern apparel manufacturing.

Guidance: Lower labor costs overseas greatly contributed to the outsourcing of apparel manufacturing. In order to compete, seamstresses in the US must be highly trained to be as efficient as possible and work in an automated environment. Based on the article, it appears that workers’ skills are further expanded to other disciplines such as design. Multi-skilled workers contribute to boosting overall system flexibility and help line balancing.

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