Consulting Services: Jon Witschy, Spindle, Woodridge, Ill.
It should go without saying that formulas must be programmed for efficient machine operation. Beyond that, I’ll answer this question with a few other questions, as well as their effects on efficiency.
Does your team pre-stage work to go into a washer? If not, think about the lost time that occurs when a washer sits idle awaiting the team to get product to load.
Is your washroom “balanced” (i.e., you have the appropriate numbers of washers, dryers, no-dry stations, carts, conveyors and/or slings)? Following on my previous comment about loading the washers, they must also be efficiently unloaded, so there has to be a place for goods to move.
Are you able to produce the same amount of work during the day, even if one or more of your washroom operators is on vacation or absent for the day? If so, you might rethink your manning requirements.
Does your facility allow all loads to complete their wash cycle at the end of the day? If so, consider the amount of time in the morning that washers sit idle until the operators can complete the cycle of unloading and loading. You could be losing as much as two to five loads a day in idle time, not to mention the possibility of having to keep your boiler and air systems up and running until the loads complete.
Are you underloading your machines? This could make a huge hit on PPOH, as well as the costs for water, chemicals and other overhead.
It’s the little things we sometimes miss that could lead to thousands of dollars in savings over the course of a year. As this year comes to an end, I wish everyone Happy Holidays and a prosperous 2018!
Uniforms/Workwear Manufacturing: Scott Delin, Fashion Seal Healthcare, Seminole, Fla.
Just the other week, while flying home from vacation, I had a chance to watch a movie titled The Founder. It is the true story about a struggling milkshake machine salesman from Illinois named Ray Kroc. Ray turned two brothers’ innovative fast-food eatery, McDonald’s, into the billion-dollar burger franchise it is today.
The McDonald brothers had developed a speedy system for making burgers, fries and milkshakes and delivering food to their customers quickly and efficiently. As we all know, the premise of fast food joints like McDonald’s is for us to order and get our food to go, fast and hot.
During the movie, I was in awe at how they prepared the hamburgers and food so quickly. The theme of the movie was speed and number of burgers made per person.
The brothers did not settle for mediocrity; their goal was to have the most efficient production line for making product as quickly as possible and would not settle for anything less. They were constantly looking for innovative ways to produce product faster and service more customers while keeping their customer base happy and anxious to return for more.
This made me think about our laundries and how we as successful laundry operators always seem to be searching for ways to make our washrooms and production facilities run smoother and more efficiently while increasing our PPOH. How to fine-tune the operation to get more PPOH through our washrooms and plants seems to be a never-ending story in our industry.
Ongoing training continues to be one of the better ways for us to accomplish smoother operating and increased productivity. As owners and managers, we need to constantly be working with our staff, showing, training and re-educating them on ways to be more efficient at what they do on a daily basis. Repetition is good and will ultimately lead to more PPOH. However, if we do not look at our production processes daily, weekly and monthly, we will fall behind and maybe, just maybe, see a sudden drop in our production levels.
As managers and owners, we need to get our employees involved in making suggestions on how they feel they might be able to increase productivity in their departments. After all, they live it and do it on a daily basis. Who knows the job better than the one who does it day in and day out?
Improving your plant layout is another way to possibly increase your productivity. Revisit your current plant layout. Have you added any new machinery lately? Are you now processing product that was never processed before that “might” be causing a blip/hiccup in your flow? Have you added new accounts that have caused you to all of sudden be a little short on space?
By revisiting your plant layout, you might just find by moving equipment around that you find some ways to save time and increase productivity.
Look at your current equipment. Is it old, worn and still working on old technology? Are you ready to step up your game and start processing with new automated technology?
Today, it seems that plants and laundries are doing more with less. The new modern equipment available to us these days has taken, and continues to take, automation to a new level. The new automated machinery and technology available on the market these days allows us to produce more product using fewer people.
With all the new technology available to us today, it allows us to not only produce more product through our plants, but also enables us to move staff around within our facility, thus helping to solidify and replace our weak links in our production flow. This, too, will help increase and have a positive impact on our PPOH.
One thing I have learned over the years is that there is always room for improvement. Never settle. I, for one, am always looking for ways to get more done and run my daily life smoother.
What is that one little simple edge that can help you get more done so you can enjoy your Big Mac, fries and chocolate shake just like that struggling salesman from Illinois? Happy Holidays!
Chemicals Supply: David Barbe, U.N.X. Inc., Greenville, N.C.
This is an interesting topic for me, as I am directly related to assisting customers with finding efficiencies by introducing automation technology in the washroom. When visiting with customers, it is essential to find out the production goal, as every laundry is different.
One of our representatives told me his grandfather said that nine out of 10 problems in a laundry can be tracked back to the washroom in some form, so it is a great place to start looking for ways to improve.
Do a spaghetti diagram of the workflow. Use a colored marker on a drawing of your facility. Study how and where the goods travel and flow from the time they arrive until they go into the washer. Look for ways to shorten and eliminate movement where possible.
Then, using a different colored marker, add a spaghetti diagram of the workflow from the washer to the dryer and the finishing machinery. Look at the travel and movement of the goods through these processes. Again, shorten and eliminate movement where possible.
Lastly, use a third colored marker to add the pathways of finished goods leaving the facility or going into storage. Can you shorten anything? Save any more movement? Don’t rule out moving equipment if it will improve workflow. Such improvements will add up for years.
How many times are the soiled linens touched, moved or handled? Anytime you eliminate an instance where something is handled, you increase efficiency. And don’t forget the pathways of your employees walking back and forth. More steps cost you labor dollars.
Concentrate on choke points if people or goods are waiting at any point for the next step in production.
Track and post pounds produced each day so washroom staff can see it. Anytime a record is broken on pounds separated or pounds washed or pounds ironed per hour, etc., provide a reward. Celebrate those little victories—maybe pizza, ice cream, staff meeting recognition, go home early on Friday, etc.
Work on eliminating rework. Strive to eliminate sorting errors so towels don’t end up with sheets, etc. Ensure goods are washed on the correct formula. Don’t let wrinkled or physically damaged goods become mixed with stained goods going back for a rewash. There’s no point in fully washing something over that’s just wrinkled or no longer useful at all. Make sure after running a rewash load that you remove any goods that are unusable from the workflow. Don’t let them get into a cycle of being washed and handled over and over.
Try to place high-volume classifications closer to the bag rail elevator, feed conveyor or washer where they are loaded. This will eliminate steps and transport of the most-washed items, like sheets, spreads and bath blankets.
Do small things to enhance the work environment where and when it’s possible—fans, anti-fatigue mats, etc. Making employees as comfortable as possible keeps them from slowing down, taking more or longer breaks, and making mistakes.
Don’t forget to get feedback from the staff. Ask them what would speed things up or make it more efficient. Each month, try to get people thinking of something different, such as ways to save steps, stop mistakes or to reduce wasteful rework. Reward good ideas that work with a gift card.
From a chemicals supplier’s perspective, see what your chemical company can offer to track washer turn times or formula run times. Besides pounds produced, many chemical systems can add such data to reports.
We have customers who display the daily turn times for the washroom like some laundries post the pounds processed. Reward improvements in turn time. Or post the total loads completed. Note the number of rewash loads; these should be minimal. Ask your representative to address rewash, formula run times, etc. See if they can shorten wash times or rinse times. If the rewash goes up, you’ll know to go back.
However, in some accounts, the washroom isn’t the slow point. It’s drying, ironing or folding. If you have the time, consider lengthening wash times to get better results. Yes, lengthening. The water, heat and chemicals are already in there. A couple minutes longer in the wash bath may get more soil and stains out, thus reducing rewash.
Ask your chemical representative for ideas just like you ask your staff. They’ve been in lots of laundries and seen many approaches to a lot of problems.
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Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Matt Poe at [email protected].