Smart production model. A solution for small scale manufacturing.

Material sourcing for a ballistic nylon tote bag

To recap, in our previous post we mentioned some of the obstacles why, even though there is a large pool of craftsmen in South East Asia, a majority of them are still not working with Independent Brands globally. So we know that some of the issues are: Inaccessibility, Unequipped, Unorganized. We have touched on a previous post that one of the solutions to solving this is to have a company or a platform that comes in as a middleman and acts as the liaison between the designers and the Independent Makers. But that model still faces a multitude of issues, one of them being the fact that small scale manufacturers work independently and as such it is extremely difficult to standardize a working solution and system. 

In the middle of a padi field

So we feel that the solution to this lies in a model adopted by a factory we once saw in Jogjakarta, Central Java, Indonesia. In 2017, we a group of us travelled to Jogjakarta in search of the factory that was known to be one of the best in producing leather products in Indonesia, producing for brands such as Voyej. Our search seemed to be in futile as no one in Jogjakarta seems to know where they were located. On the last day of our 3 day trip, we managed to get the information pointing us to the factory. The drive took us to a remote area just outside of the main city of Jogja at Kawasan Industri Banyakan. There, across a small bridge that took us over padi rice fields, we finaly located Yogya Karya Andini. What we saw in YKA was a model that would lead to our idea for the Smart Production model. In YKA, machineries and tools needed  for leather crafting was made accessible to Independent Craftsmen who would come in and work on specific projects and brands in a group. For example, a group of 8 craftsmen would come in and be assigned to a particular brand. Upon talking to the founder of YKA, we understood the reasoning behind the model and felt that this could be the model that would eventually enable small scale manufacturers all across the globe.

Smart Production facility

So what we saw at YKA,  made a lot of sense in a lot of ways such as:

1. Accessibility to the right tools and machineries. By providing the space and machineries, the Independent manufacturers are able to start working on projects without having to worry about the high costs needed to equip themselves with the tools and machineries needed. If you were to take an example of backpack manufacturing, first the pattern maker would need to make the pattern, then someone would need to do the material sourcing for the fabric, the hardware, etc. When the pattern is done, the knife mold would need to be done, and when the knives come back, the materials need to be sent out to the cutting company for dye-cutting. Then Another person would ned to liaise with the silkscreen printer to print the design elements on the backpack. Once the backpack is done, they would need to be sent out for the bartack stitching for various parts of the backpack. With the Smart Production Facility, everything could be done in one place from leather splitting to pattern plotting and cutting to dye-cutting etc.

2. Quality Control. Through the creation of a central location, the Smart Production Facility creates a spoke to hub model. Where previously when we are trying to work with multiple Independent Workshops, we need to be going to all the individual workshop locations, now everything is centralized in one area. This was quality control can be carried out much easier. 

3. Standardization & consistency. Previously one of the biggest issues with working with Independent small scale manufacturers was the fact that they were all using different machineries and have different manufacturing practice. By having a Smart Production Facility, we are now able to ensure that not only are standardized machines used, but trainings are given to the Independent Manufacturers on how to operate the machines. This will allow us to create production guidelines and specifications which cannot be done previously.

4. Specialization & co-operation. In the past, Independent Small Scale Manufacturers work Independently and as a result there were many redundancies and inefficiencies. For example, if there were 30 workshops in an area, there will be 30 pattern makers, 30 sample makers, etc. With the Smart Production Facility, we allow specialization where a team can come in just to focus on prototyping while another team focuses on production etc. Teams can then also work with other teams in one area to create a synergistic working relationship.

What we just mentioned above is just one variation of a Smart Production Facility. In Indonesia we have seen another version where a brand will engage an Independent Manufacturer and set up remote standalone production facility with the same machineries as their other stand alone facilities in other places. This would create the ability to standardized the production and to create a consistent quality.

We Feel that with this model, we can truly enable the Independent Small Scale Manufacturers and eventually enbale the Independent Fashion Brands as well.

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