Streamlining Apparel Picking: Addressing Efficiency in Textile Production

Streamlining Apparel Picking: Addressing Efficiency in Textile Production


One of the key features of the ZenSmart platform is that we automate the manufacturing of a wide variety of different print on demand products – from display to giftware, photos to books, corporate to textiles and apparel. In that list textiles and apparel is an interesting category as it requires a pick first rather than print first workflow.

In this week’s post I wanted to cover off the implications of a pick first workflow and just how important accurate picking of garments in print on demand is. This initial step often has a range of complexities – and it’s crucial to get it right to ensure the smooth flow of the entire production process to lowest cost. A systematic approach to pick, pre-treat, print and finish can significantly reduce errors, enhance productivity, and ultimately have a big impact on profitability.

The Picking Challenge in Apparel Manufacturing

Apparel production has a workflow that with picking as the first critical step (signage and some display production are other examples of pick first workflow), whereas most print on demand production is on a substrate which are typically homogenous and relatively low cost (such as paper or canvas). Apparel is different because the garments are relatively high value (so you really care about every single unit of inventory) and have a huge number of variations – size, color, style, and material. The combination can easily multiply out to many thousands of SKUs (unique product codes).

The sum of all this means that error at this stage can drive cost hard really fast. On the flip side, if you can sequence and order your manufacturing in an optimal way you can find a lot of efficiency gain.

The Ideal Solution

An effective picking workflow needs to streamline the selection process, minimize the likelihood of error and provide real time insight.

Key features of this ideal solution include:

  1. Business rule based queuing: Enable “like” garments to be batched provides more streamlined downstream workflow through more common based actions (eg light colored garments) being grouped
  2. Automated pick list based generation: Generation of pick lists (paper and digital) based on the optimized queues
  3. Automated Verification: Incorporating technology to ensure correct garment selection, potentially through barcode scanning.
  4. User Verification Steps: Implementing steps where users confirm their selections to prevent errors.
  5. Real-time Tracking: Keeping track of the picking process to ensure accuracy and efficiency.

ZenSmart: Implementing the Solution

ZenSmart implements these requirements through a rich set of features for apparel/pick-first specific workflow.

The picking focussed feature set we have created to deliver a least cost apparel production capability involves:

  • Barcode System for Accurate Stocking: Utilizes barcode scanning to correctly stock garments, reducing the chances of upstream stocking errors.
  • Smart queuing: Enables optimized picking of like garments that provide a more streamlined downstream workflow
  • Verification for Picking Accuracy: During picking, ZenSmart’s system requires scanning of items against their locations, ensuring the right garments are selected.
  • Integrated Pre-Ripping and Imposition: Prepares files for printing during the picking process, reducing wait times at the printing stage.
  • Barcode based printing: Initiation of the print through barcode scan to ensure print accuracy
  • Gamified User Validation: Incorporates user validation steps in a gamified format, adding an extra layer of verification before printing and during finishing.
  • Efficient Dispatch Verification: Implements visual checks at the dispatch stage to match the final product with customer orders.

Benefits of ZenSmart’s Approach

By automating the above key aspects of the apparel picking process, ZenSmart significantly reduces the likelihood of errors and optimizes workflow. This efficiency translates into cost savings, higher productivity, a more engaged workforce and more streamlined manufacturing from start to finish.

In apparel manufacturing, garment selection is complex. Adopting an automated, verification-focused approach like that of ZenSmart can be a game-changer. This method not only streamlines operations but also ensures consistency and quality, key factors in the competitive textiles and apparel industry.

Discover More about Efficient Picking Solutions

For insights into how a solution like ZenSmart can transform your garment picking process, enhancing both efficiency and accuracy, visit

Sammy Brent

Sammy Brent is the CIO of ZenSmart, a leading workflow automation platform that streamlines manufacturing in On Demand plants across the world.



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