WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Managing a laundry facility is a challenge, and when expensive equipment breaks down, the ability to repair it can hinge on knowing where to locate a single part.
During an Association for Linen Management webinar, Parts Are NOT Parts, David Chadsey, managing director of Capital Equipment Consulting (which recently changed its name to Laundry-Consulting.com), spoke about parts management and maintenance, focusing on the need for inventory and documentation.
Knowing what you have by way of inventory is the first step in documenting your machine maintenance, Chadsey says. At some point, every piece of equipment will need to be replaced. Understanding the process and planning for the inevitable will make the job easier to handle, he says.
Chadsey advocates documenting a machine’s usage and tracking inventory as means to understanding what equipment and parts a facility uses and needs. “Because if you don’t know what you use and don’t know what you need,” he says, “the day you need it, you’re probably not going to have it.”
Maintaining a parts inventory is important to keeping a facility up and running, he says.
When polled, every participant in the webinar indicated his or her “inventory system” was to simply look on the shelf when a part was needed.
Inventorying can be done in several different ways, Chadsey says.
“Establishing an inventory control and a systematic approach to documenting the parts you use is very important. It’s going to prevent extended downtime,” he says.
Inventorying can be done by machine, by part or by rate of replacement. Keeping track of parts and ordering on a regular basis can have other benefits. Many manufacturers and supply companies will offer discounts or no-charge freight, so, Chadsey says, there are some savings that go along with tracking parts and being able to order on a regular basis.
“There is nothing worse than having a piece of equipment fail on Wednesday before Thanksgiving,” Chadsey says, “and your distributor doesn’t have the part.”
Another benefit to inventorying is the data gained when analyzing a return on investment (ROI) for a particular piece of equipment. It also provides credibility to upper management when a facility manager suggests a change.
Another key to parts management is knowing what warranty goes with a particular piece of equipment or part. Chadsey suggests knowing exactly when a warranty starts, as some manufacturers use “final approval” for the start date and that may not come until six months after the equipment was installed.
Another consideration is to determine what parts are covered. Some warranties cover general parts but not “wear” items, Chadsey says. Be sure to have those “wear” items defined. Keep in mind there may be special terms to the warranty; for instance, is freight covered in the warranty? Is significant lead time necessary to obtain the part?
Remember also, Chadsey says, that there is a difference between parts warranties and labor warranties. Check the timelines for parts and labor, as they often differ considerably.
Also, ask about extended warranties. This may be needed for new products or if there is a question about the equipment’s longevity. And if you need to activate a warranty, remind your provider that an extended warranty exists. Otherwise, Chadsey says, you may be paying for something you thought was covered.
Downtime costs also need to be considered when negotiating a warranty, and the cost of a warranty and services may be negotiated, particularly if on-site staff are more than capable of doing the needed work.
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