SAN DIEGO — We’ve all faced a range of challenges over the last 18 months with the supply-chain issues along with the extraordinary increases in textiles, utilities, fuel and wages.
At Emerald, it is important that we invest in opportunities that can help us mitigate the cost impacts that we continue to experience. Emerald Textiles has strategically deployed capital, right-sized our business in various areas and has been proactively reducing costs that will provide short and long-term positive impacts for our business.
We’ve done this while not wavering from our mission to provide high-quality products and trusted services, helping our customers achieve what matters most: affordable, high-quality service.
BENEFITS OF AUTOMATION
At Emerald, we are continually investing in our facilities, technology, equipment, people and customers. Labor is of the utmost importance as we currently employ nearly 2,500 team members.
In California, we’ve not only experienced labor shortages, but also year-over-year minimum wage adjustments. However, the minimum wage increase has not solved the issue of employee retention or the ability to hire new employees.
Potential employees are looking for far more than minimum wage, which until last year was historically accepted, and have many opportunities to secure employment.
Emerald Textiles’ effort to mitigate labor challenges is through continued deployment of capital that will help reduce the number of employees required to operate.
We have deployed over $40 million of capital over the past three years, including $15 million in 2022, continuing to make significant investments in our business.
These investments and automation reduce the dependency on labor as well as create efficiencies to maintain the excellent service levels that our customers realize.
Investing in automating our processes ensures we consistently meet our high productivity demands, create future sustainability and assurance of supply, and save on our reliance on natural resources.
Maximizing the amount of linen that is consistently sent into each washing load through our continuous batch washers (CBW) reduces water consumption by 50% when compared to conventional washers.
These CBWs utilize far less hard manual labor to lift or move the laundry into position, which is all-around better for our employees and their safety.
Automation through new machinery and technologies allows us to work in better ways protecting our employees by offering ergonomic ways to do the job and has the added benefit of increasing employee satisfaction.
Additionally, we are protecting our high-grade healthcare fabrics through a well-managed, precise processing method and pre-set hygienically clean standards.
Hands-on training and creating a positive and friendly work environment create happy employees, which, in turn, increases productivity and improves quality.
Automation and employee satisfaction are the main ingredients. However, tracking efficiencies manually or through a system such as Spindle can be a great benefit.
It’s important plants are managed by the numbers while always looking for ways to improve through data analysis.
ENERGY COST-REDUCTION STRATEGIES
Several of our plants implement an overhead rail system technology which opens up floor space and improves product flow through the plant.
Our Los Angeles facility is currently in the process of converting to this gravity-fed system, scheduled to be complete in Q3.
Also, by utilizing CBW washers and water and heat reclamation methods, Emerald contributes to a greener environment through a reuse process all while maintaining the highest infection control standards.
Each facility is different depending on the labor force and peak hours of operation. We have had success adjusting plant hours in some of our facilities to help the community save on precious energy.
We’re currently exploring the option for solar that would provide huge savings in energy usage and utility costs.
We are continuously replacing lighting systems with LED and adding motion sensors in areas that have the highest opportunity to preserve energy when areas of the facility are not in use.
WORKING WITH SUPPLIERS
Keeping vendors “honest” and competitive can help manage costs. Utilizing multiple vendors for certain services, such as linen, parts and chemicals, can lead to tremendous savings
In selecting vendors and programs, we look for assurance of supply to guarantee we always have linen for our customers.
We value higher-quality products with high-grade fabrics, which creates overall savings by ensuring less loss and damage.
If you source higher-quality fabrics that may cost a little more and ensure proper use in their processing and handling, you are saving in the long run by preserving high-quality products to their fullest extent.
Another key area of focus where we help both parties greatly reduce costs is through proper linen management and partnering with our customers allows us to control overordering, order/PAR management, overstocking, etc.
We work closely with all of our customers to make sure they have the right products in the right place, focusing on the right quantities. Not only does this allow us to maintain consistency in our plants, but it also directly correlates to a reduction in usage that our accounts realize.
Through proper linen management, Emerald has seen customers save 30% of their linen costs. Not only is this an initial saving once implemented, but as maintained, it becomes a year-over-year savings.
REDUCING DELIVERY COSTS
Route optimization is often overlooked as an incredible opportunity to save money on the cost of linen delivery.
Reviewing routes, tracking through GPS and daily logs can be instrumental in achieving incredible savings.
Other options would include routing so vehicles are not operating during high traffic hours and reducing the required number of deliveries per week.
THE COST CYCLE
Costs are cyclical, but one thing we can always be certain of is that they will always rise over the long run.
We should be prepared, not just for today but for the future, to continue to explore additional streamlining and cost reduction when and where possible while keeping in mind quality for our customers.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Matt Poe at [email protected].