ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 09
Financial Times  

Woman's new best friend

By Lakwimashi Perera

Bras being sewn

Forget diamonds, they say the modern woman's best friend is the bra - comforting, supportive and gives you room to breathe.

Not to mention that it's much more affordable too. But then, a bra is nothing more than a collection of fabric and elastic. The question then arises, how does cloth and elastic turn into a girl's best friend?

The Sunday Times FT got a chance to find out, courtesy Dave Ranasinghe, Joint Managing Director and his team at Bodyline, the manufacturers of Triumph products for the local market, who gave this newspaper a guided tour of their award-winning factory complex. As it is a joint venture between Triumph Lanka and Bodyline, the designs come from Triumph, for manufacturing at Bodyline, we were told.

It began in the quarantine area in the raw material warehouse, where all fabric and other material that is brought in is stored temporarily until the Quality Assurance Department gets a chance to ascertain that the materials are of the quality that Bodyline requires it to be. Once it passes the quality inspection, it is taken into the raw material warehouse.

After that it is sent to the cutting area where the value addition begins. Large tables on which the cutting takes place dominates this area while computerized machines which ensure precision cuts and maximum use of the fabric are used for cutting. Ranasinghe explained that there are two types of bras, the moulded and the non-moulded. Moulding is done on separate machines especially meant for that particular purpose.

The machine that grants each individual access to his or her HR information

A very interesting garment is the "sew-free" variety, manufactured for Nike, an international sportswear brand, which is completely assembled through bonding and which adorns the likes of Serena Williams.

Next up was the assembly lines where the actual sewing takes place. Deft fingered operators sit in a horse-shoe shape and the fabrics begin to look more like the finished product. Lace, cotton, satin, elastic, plastic - all come together here, in the hands of the highly skilled women manning the machines. "The work will come to the operator to minimise handling time," Ranasinghe explained, pointing at the conveyor belt which runs the length of the horse shoe. There are about 48-52 operators in a horse shoe. "It's a progressive bundle completion system. It gets finished as it goes along," he said.

Then afterwards, it goes to the packaging section where nimble fingers fold the finished products and pack them neatly into bags and boxes ready to be taken away in to the market.

The company says it produces 12 million bras a year the majority of which goes to Victoria's Secret, the world renowned lingerie brand while the balance goes to Triumph Lanka for the domestic market.

Some of the interesting things that were seen at Bodyline is the bank with its own ATM that was located within the premises to encourage the staff to save and the ATM-like machine that grants each individual access to his or her HR information. It just takes the swipe of a card.

Another fascinating aspect of the whole operation at the complex is how streamlined and smooth it is. The shift change, which occurs at 1.30 pm took place with the least amount of commotion and time. When the operator from the earlier shift left and the next one took over, the work station, which is the machine, was spick and span as they get a few minutes to tidy up after themselves. All this is accompanied by music played on the Public Address system. After the shift change, the operators file out of the production floor in neat rows. Everything has a place where it belongs at the Bodyline factory and nothing was seen out of place.

The operating staff wear colour co-ordinated coats which indicate which shift they work, whether they're trainees and the pregnant members of the staff have a special pink coat which makes it easy for everyone else to give them preference, whether it be while standing in line for the bus or in a fire drill.


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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.