OPL 101: Constant Connection to Improve Laundry Operations, Costs

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Bill Brooks |

Three important benefits of real-time monitoring technology

RIPON, Wis. — With today’s advancements in real-time and remote-monitoring technology, gone are the days of estimating average cycle times and maximum water temperatures.

Now, with the latest monitoring technology, laundry managers can stay up-to-date with minute-by-minute performance data that leads to increased efficiency throughout their entire operation.

Today’s industry-leading equipment control systems provide on-premises laundry (OPL) managers with advanced real-time monitoring capabilities, letting them remain constantly connected to their machines and laundry operation, which helps reduce overall operating costs and maximize throughput.

Additionally, cloud-based technology provides easy-to-access reports that allow managers to view information and dashboards that outline critical operation information, including machine errors or maintenance needs, productivity details and performance snapshots.

Interested in removing the guesswork from your laundry room? Here are three major examples of how this technology can advance your operation.

EXAMPLE 1: CONNECTIVITY LEADS TO INCREASED THROUGHPUT

Advanced controls provide OPL managers with complete visibility into all of the major components of the laundry room at the touch of a button, aggregating information on pounds of laundry completed, labor, utilities, equipment usage, types of cycles being programmed, and efficiency. This data can then be compiled into a comprehensive report for laundry managers to review and make improvements based on results, ultimately leading to increased throughput.

“Since installing our new UniMac® washers at the end of 2015, the reporting capabilities have helped tremendously with our overall production and workflow,” says John Massey, co-owner of Montgomery, Ala.-based Jim Massey’s Cleaners. “With our equipment’s control system, I am able to view the reports every morning on my laptop. I review multiple reports, but I really like the Snapshot Report, which gives a quick overview of a particular machine’s performance for that day. It tells me exactly how many cycles ran, how long the cycles were and how many minutes were between each cycle—critical information when it comes to throughput.”

Jim Massey’s Cleaners, a third-generation, family-owned dry cleaner, Laundromat and tuxedo rental business, washes more than 30,000 pieces a week for both residential and business clienteles at its central production facility. In December 2015, the business upgraded five of its washer-extractors, purchasing 65-pound machines with UniLinc® controls. In the short time since upgrading its washers, Jim Massey’s Cleaners has experienced a decrease in time between cycles and a more efficient workflow in the wash room overall.

“What has helped us decrease time between cycles and dramatically increase our throughput is the real-time TV monitors that wirelessly connect to the equipment,” says Massey. “The icons that illuminate on the screen are visible across the entire plant floor, alerting our employees when a load is in use, nearing completion or complete.”

EXAMPLE 2: REAL-TIME DATA SUPPORTS WELL-INFORMED BENCHMARKS

Real-time monitoring also helps OPL managers set, track and manage against benchmark standards, which can help save their operation time and money. The increased visibility and real-time data can help laundry room management make informed decisions on how to best allocate labor resources based on the expected volume of laundry during a specific time period. With labor representing one of the highest costs in a laundry’s operating budget, it’s critical to measure and optimize your labor process.

“Within my report settings, I’ve laid out benchmarks for fill time and drain time. I even set a specific goal for water temperatures,” explains Massey. “I’m then able to track and see if my goals were reached and determine the best method for process improvement if they weren’t.”

If you are just starting to implement real-time monitoring technology in your operation, your equipment distributor can help you determine what cycles are best for your industry and specific business needs. Your distributor will also help you take a holistic look at your operation, including number of loads processed per shift, machine usage and types of cycles being used in order to set benchmarks that help increase efficiency.

“The entire technology implementation was great from start to finish,” says Massey. “From day one, we saw a major benefit from being able to view the reports, and our distributor has worked with us to ensure all of our equipment and monitoring needs were met.”

EXAMPLE 3: BETTER CONTROL OVER MAINTENANCE AND MANAGEMENT

With real-time monitoring reports offering a comprehensive overview of everything, including cycle times, water temperature, idle time and more, laundry room operators are able to better track when service is needed. For example, since machine bearings should be greased every 200 hours of operation, equipment with an advanced control system can send an alert when the 200 hours have been reached. 

The advanced monitoring capabilities can also help indicate when a machine is experiencing a potential leak or fill problem. This technology can monitor everything from aborted cycles to rapid cycles to idle time between loads, which can all impact a laundry operation’s labor costs and bottom line. This gives OPL managers a better understanding of what’s happening in their laundry room.

“If a report shows a longer fill time than average, we’re able to look into it to determine if we have a potential valve or water line fill problem,” Massey says. “From a maintenance standpoint, this is huge because we can address the issue right away, making sure the machine returns to running efficiently.”

In addition to alerting OPL managers to potential maintenance concerns, it also assists with monitoring employee production and workflow.

DECREASE YOUR BOTTOM LINE, INCREASE ROI WITH REAL-TIME MONITORING

Equipment with real-time monitoring technology not only removes the guesswork from your OPL operation, but it also has a significant impact on cost reduction. When OPL managers have access to machine usage data at all times, it helps them identify and address hidden inefficiencies. This crucial data helps keep machine downtime, labor and utility costs as low as possible, having an immediate impact on your bottom line.

As Massey explained, over the past six months this technology has been vital in providing an unprecedented look into his business’ laundry room. Real-time monitoring technology is the future of laundry room management and can bring many benefits to your operation.

If you haven’t upgraded your equipment recently, it might be time to start thinking about the advantages—and savings—new equipment with advanced controls can provide.

About the author

Bill Brooks

UniMac

National Sales Manager

Bill Brooks is the national sales manager for UniMac, a provider of on-premises laundry equipment. He can be reached at bill.brooks@alliancels.com or 920-748-4437.

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