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Quality assurance framework for small manufacturing companies in the clothing industry in the Cape Metropolitan area
An assessment undertaken by the Clothing and Textile Centre in the Western Cape (Clotex) during 2002 revealed that there was a great need for quality in the clothing sector. Furthermore, the research undertaken by the Department of Science and Technology (2004) supports and recommends the development of simple, paper-based systems for implementation and measurement for quality and production systems. An analysis of the macro- and micro-environmental factors confronting the clothing industry revealed that substantial pressure was placed on the clothing industry due to unfavourable exchange rates, increased pricing and illegal imports. The result has been a decline in sales, profits and exports, which has lead to the closure of many clothing companies in the Western Cape during the period 2003 to present. Furthermore, this has resulted in the increase of SMME companies that have been established due to the increase in unemployment. A combination of qualitative and quantitative research techniques was applied during this study, namely focus-group sessions and survey questionnaires. Six focus-group sessions were held with participants from the retail sector, large manufacturers and small manufacturers with the purpose to establish the quality needs in the clothing industry and the type of quality systems utilised. The outcome of the focus group was the development of a questionnaire, using both a combination of scale response questions as well as dichotomous questions. As a result a research survey was conducted amongst the small manufacturing companies in the Western Cape who conform to the provisions contained in the National Business Act, 1996 (Act 102 of 1996). The research revealed that all the respondents had implemented quality control systems. Quality control systems are viewed as preventative systems in ensuring that goods not conforming to customer specifications are prevented from reaching the customer. The research analysis further revealed that communication between buyer and seller was an integral part of the success of the business. The research provides small-business with a framework, which will facilitate the evaluation of the current quality practices with the view to improving or implementing an effective quality assurance system.
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