Best Practices for Sorting, Arranging Laundry and Linen (Conclusion)

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(Image credit: Alissa Ausmann)

“What ideas do you have for sorting and arranging product throughout the operation in order to be most efficient—and effective?”

Textiles: Steve Kallenbach, ADI American Dawn, Los Angeles, Calif.

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Steve Kallenbach

Steve Kallenbach

Many laundry plants have been in existence for decades. In some cases, the operations are even separated into different buildings. In looking at efficiencies in “product flow,” it would be a great exercise to start with a fresh, empty map of the operation.

Look at how product would flow in a U-shaped or “straight-through” configuration, where soiled product comes in one side and exits the other, or flows from one side—in a “U”—to the other. This exercise will undoubtedly bring some insight into possible improvements in product flow and efficiency.

It’s not only the direction of product flow, but also the staging of product in front of machines and operations so that production is continuous and without interruption.

For instance, is the soil sorted by load, pre-weighed and ready for the wash floor? Is the dried or conditioned product stationed up behind the next finish operation? Is the finished product arranged and shelved in a way most efficient in pulling your new loads? Is the soil washed and finished in an order that allows full loads to be readied for the routes, without having to go back and finish the fill?

These are all questions that should be addressed with a fresh look at the operation. And many times, good vendor partners can provide such efficiency audits at no charge, providing a fresh view of the operation.

In addition to product flow, labor movement/management can assist in efficiency of production.

For instance, you may have certain times of the day when the largest amount of specific product is running through machinery, such as ironers. It is important to have those machines at full capacity, even if you have to pull labor from other departments to make sure that all the lanes are running. This not only maximizes labor use, but also reduces utilities in some cases.

With regard to soil sorting, one would think that an industry such as ours has that part covered. But a review of this part of the textile journey can sometimes increase efficiency, as well as cleanliness of the product.

For instance, there are some table linens that can and should be washed together that are not obvious. Milliken’s Checkpoint and Signature® Stripes are designed to wash with pure whites. Many operators are not aware of this.

Other products should not be washed together, such as any microfiber product mixed with cotton textiles.

A review of soil sorting with your vendors is a good idea, especially concerning table linens.

The key elements are product soil mix, staging at all parts of the process, labor station management, and final product shelving. Good management of these elements all point to production efficiency.

Equipment/Supply Distribution: Todd Santoro, Cleanwash Laundry Systems Inc., Omaha, Neb.

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Todd Santoro

Todd Santoro

Efficiency in a laundry is a great way to save money. This is important whether it is an employee operating drop-off or a self-serve customer utilizing your machines. These six tips are primarily focused on the retail laundry providing drop-off service but could certainly be utilized for a commercial laundry with a few tweaks.

Mobility equals efficiency. Make it easy. Include all of your detergents and laundry supplies on a wheeled cart that can be maneuvered easily from your storage area to your workspace. Each attendant is responsible for keeping the cart fully stocked at the end of their shift. This prevents multiple trips back and forth, leaving laundry and supplies unattended and taking extra time. It also makes updating inventory and needed items much simpler.

Create stations. In your work area or back room, you should have dedicated workstations from the initial receiving area all the way through completion. Workstations may include some or all of the following:

  • Receiving or Intake: This area is equipped with computer, labels and counter space.
  • Processing: This is where your items are waiting to be laundered in bins, hampers or bags.
  • Folding/Ironing/Bagging: This allows you to complete the order in whatever manner is requested by the customer. You may include hanging racks and/or shelves for storage.
  • Supply Station: A storage place for your carts and an area for refilling your product.

Automate anything that can be automated. If it cannot be automated, streamline the process and be certain that it is posted for future reference. The most common automation can be in the choice of computer system that you use for your laundry services.

Implement an incentive program for your employees.  Some people discount incentive programs, but they can be quite effective if you know what motivates your employees. If you can determine what will drive your employees to excel, use that as the incentive for efficiency and accuracy. Make sure that your productivity measurements are fair and easily measured.

Cleanliness is key. Keeping the laundry work area clean and the aisles free of impediments makes it easier to move about, whether it is for your attendant or your self-serve customer.

If building new or renovating your laundry, be certain to provide easy access. Group like items together, and any items, such as vending machines, should be grouped out of the main thoroughfare of the laundry so as not to obstruct movement. Make sure corners are easy to navigate with a cart, and aisles are extra-wide.  

Miss Part 1? Click here to read it.

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