PETALUMA, Calif. — Lace House Laundry and Linen Supply operates a mixed plant in Northern California primarily servicing restaurants and hotels and a small number of uniforms.
This mix creates a very dirty, smelly, busy soil sort department each day. We have a very traditional process for our soil department—all manual, hand sorting by item, discarding garbage, identifying damaged goods and after all those steps, hopefully clearing the soil rails daily.
Because we do so much customer-owned goods (COG) for our hotel customers, we need two distinct processes for food and beverage (FB) items and the COG accounts.
The FB process begins with the drivers unloading their trucks on a lift rail system when they return to the plant. If there is an overflow of soiled bags, the drivers stack them in carts labeled by day.
The soil department shift begins at 4 a.m., and the employees are expected to sort 20-25 bags an hour. Most items go onto the conveyor belt where one employee clears to different wash slings.
High-volume items, such as bar mops, aprons and white napkins, are sorted at each table directly into a sling.
The employees are trained well to identify problem items such as corks, pens and silverware that come mixed with the linen. This is a major benefit of hand sorting—all these items are discarded before going through the washing machines and possibly damaging the equipment.
We are fortunate to have several employees who have worked in our soil department for more than 10 years, and they crush it!
The hospitality sorting belt is a much more streamlined, quicker and cleaner process.
The cart dumper unloads onto an elevated belt, and the employees sort the hotel linen into carts by item. The carts are immediately rolled to our continuous batch washer (CBW) for washing.
This work has a very specific order and timeline as many of our hotel customers require daily deliveries.
Training of our employees and customer education are key to our success in soil. We spend a great deal of time with our employees to identify all the different pieces, where to separate and the importance of discarding hazardous items.
We often meet with customers to explain to them about separating items at their locations to avoid damage charges and to extend the life of the linen.
Another key to soil success is open communication and collaboration between drivers and our soil department. We encourage them to work together to ensure that there is a thoughtful flow from unloading laundry bags to sorting and ultimately to the wash house so that items are processed timely.
We ensure employee safety with personal protective equipment (PPE) such as goggles, gloves and gowns, and we clean the soil belts and floor twice a day.
We have improved the lighting in our soil department, and we have emphasized the importance of managing and measuring the daily soil so that we can be prepared for the next day. If we know where we are with counting soil, we can plan accordingly for production hours in the finishing departments.
Some of our highest-paid production employees work in this department as we recognize that although this is not the most glamorous job it is very important to the success and efficiency of Lace House.
Cheers to all the soil departments out there—thanks for doing our dirty work!
Soil Sort Excellence: Healthcare Linen Processing Starts Here, Nov. 8, 2022
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Matt Poe at [email protected].