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Equipment Information at Your Fingertips (Conclusion)

Electronic laundry equipment manuals, importance of training

CHICAGO — For Al Adcock, vice president of sales and marketing for laundry equipment manufacturer B&C Technologies, installation and operation manuals form the critical bridge necessary to install, operate and maintain a new machine. 

“Keeping the manuals safe, handy and available allow the laundry personnel to quickly access information that is required to do their jobs most efficiently by providing guidelines for most efficient operational techniques as well as helping to solve issues and explain any error messages in much greater detail than can be found on a typical display,” he says.

Equipment manuals can provide laundry and linen services with vital information on their machines, along with helpful ways equipment can be used more effectively … if the laundry makes use of the manuals.

In the conclusion of the three-part series, we cover electronic options and the importance of training.

ELECTRONIC OPTIONS

Bob Fesmire, president of Ellis Corp., mentioned digital equipment manuals, and Jeanne George, inside sales manager for Rennco, brought up files on a USB drive in Part 2. In today’s technologically advancing world, the trend is for manufacturers to offer some type of electronic and/or online manual.

“With today’s available technology and the cost of the asset (equipment) the operator is investing in, manuals, training and troubleshooting need to move into the next generation,” says Fesmire. “It is harder and harder to find and engage young engineers in our industry. We must meet them where they are, which is in general a real engagement of technology.

“OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) need to meet the new generation coming into our industry and also help owner/operators protect their sophisticated assets.”

“With the influx of big data and the Internet of Things (IoT), Sea-lion has migrated to digital documentation for a majority of their equipment, particularly equipment that is networked into integrated systems,” shares Ed Kirejczyk, president of  Sea-lion America Company. “This has also resulted into remote access for a variety of uses including monitoring, programming and troubleshooting.”

The team at JENSEN USA says manuals are shifting to either online or on a disc that is supplied with each machine. 

“This allows for the end-user to keep digital copies on PCs or mobile devices for safekeeping,” the team says. “If they chose to have printed copies, they are able to print as many copies as they desire. The digital versions on mobile devices allows for the engineering team to be in front of the equipment and view the manuals on their tablets or cell phone.”

Keith Ware, vice president of sales for Lavatec Laundry Technology, says that many machines also have manuals stored in their operating systems and can also show trends of faults, including downtime, so the engineer knows what the symptoms are before they look at solving the problem.

“For example, we had a location that kept trying to fix the press and speed up its program to get more throughput,” he shares. “After our team reviewed the results of the fault log, it showed that the press worked fine. But it was the lack of dryers on the system that were making the press wait to proceed, so the problem was not with the press.”

Gary Lazarre, vice president, product support, Pellerin Milnor Corp., notes that print manuals are “static,” meaning that updates made after the manuals are produced won’t have the new information.

“Static manuals are also generally light on troubleshooting information,” he says. “Therefore, Milnor has created an online Technical Knowledge Base, which we recommend be used as a starting point for any information needed by an operator or technician.

“Our digital database allows us to expand beyond the machine manuals by providing corresponding articles and video tutorials on a wide variety of topics. We have found that most of our users prefer pictures and videos compared to the written text.

“Online manuals are also available, and we offer those to our dealers for distribution to our end-users. These assist with finding data by electronically searching the document. We also distribute them as requested when helping end-users directly.”

Tony Schult, service director for Kannegiesser ETECH, points out that operators can utilize the digital manual information by inserting pages or links into their maintenance software (CMMS system).

“Most PM systems now are cloud-based and can be easily accessed by mobile devices,” he says. “You can place QR labels on your equipment that can be scanned and instantly show operators the PM steps, troubleshooting procedures, safety info, parts lists, how-to videos, etc.”

“As more companies take their manuals into the digital world, some require a login password to access it for customers only,” says Ware. “Make sure your team has knowledge of the method in which to log in.”

“It is also recommended that operators keep a folder to links for the information that is accessible to anyone who will be using the product,” adds Douglas Konke, professional service director at Miele Inc.

The team at VEGA Systems USA notes that manuals can be electronically sent via PDF or similar format for storage best suited to the laundry’s needs.

“Our manuals are not yet fully online, but we do provide interactive PDFs with each hardcopy that ships with the machine,” says Carol Tyler, director of marketing for Chicago Dryer Co. “Having these PDFs in a digital library or accessible on devices can be especially useful for the engineers and maintenance personnel.

“A digital library is helpful in large facilities where physical storage could become too difficult to manage. Having the library on mobile devices or tablets allows the entire collection to travel with the user, and can be less cumbersome than the physical binder, especially when performing maintenance or repair procedures.”

“A digital version makes searching for content a much easier process,” agrees Julie Socha, technical documentation and digital services manager at Alliance Laundry Systems. “In addition, paper copies can become lost, ruined or take up desk space. Digital versions are always available and create less waste.”

“My recommendation is to save a tree and forget the paper manual!” says Russ Cooper, manager of technical support for Dexter Laundry. “Having a tablet or laptop not only allows you to view the manuals, but also to view a whole range of service videos and troubleshooting support.”

THE KEY: TRAINING

While the use of an equipment manual may seem fairly straightforward, employees will be better able to take advantage of the information with training.

“While technical in nature, our chapters are often written in a narrative style with the intent to make the information accessible,” says Tyler. “The goal is to educate users at all levels, from maintenance engineer to machine operator, to understand and respect the machine so that both it and they can get the job done safely and effectively.

“For facilities with multiple generations of machines, it is important to identify and use the correct manual for each piece of equipment to ensure safe machine operations and maintenance.”

Schult points out that some manuals are extremely lengthy and overwhelming, and some manufacturers provide quick reference guides for frequently used information.

“But if you don’t have them, and you have time, it’s a good training and learning exercise for your maintenance team to create the quick reference guides,” he suggests. “At Kannegiesser ETECH, we provide online training sessions and webinars in which we train using the equipment manuals to familiarize your maintenance team on how to utilize them.”

“Each customer/facility will have different types and hours of use,” Konke points out. “Miele recommends that they read through the information and have a clear understanding of how they want to utilize the equipment and align the right use and care needed to optimize results and longevity.”

He also recommends making notes and highlighting what affects the operation specifically.

“And always proactively ask questions of the manufacturer about the operation, rather than waiting until there is an issue,” Konke adds.

“Read it when you get it, and place tabs where there is important information,” says Rick Gaston, technical support department manager for Miura America Co. “Many operators do not read the manual and then just call someone when there is a problem. Many times the manual will have a troubleshoot chart or some important maintenance procedures that are easy to follow and do and will save you time and money in the long run.”

Fesmire agrees that maintenance personnel should have familiarized themselves with the manual and the training material before having to operate and repair a machine.

“Ensure all maintenance personnel know where to find the manuals either the paper version or digital version,” he stresses.

“Next time an employee asks you something specific about the equipment they use, take the time to share the manufacturer’s published information,” suggests Dave McAllister, director of services and project management for Girbau Industrial.

Manufacturers stress that they are here to help operators use their machines properly and efficiently.

“When in a pinch, have your manual handy but please call the manufacturer for help,” says Dan Farnsworth, vice president of sales for Leonard Automatics. “That is what we are here for.”

Miss Part 1 on the top reasons and methods for using laundry equipment manuals? Click HERE to read it. Click HERE for Part 2 on overlooked uses for manuals and strategies for using physical copies.