Preventive Maintenance in the Laundry: Keep It Running (Part 1 of 2)


Preventative maintenance image
© iStockphoto/Stephanie Horrocks

Jean Teller |

CHICAGO — Preventive maintenance is a major component in a safe and productive laundry facility, says Bob Corfield, president of Laundry Design Group, a consulting firm. Speaking recently with a number of laundry professionals during a webinar sponsored by the Association for Linen Management, Corfield urged his listeners to design and implement a plant-wide preventive maintenance program.

Diligence is the key, he says, including tests, calibrations, adjustments and partial replacements to help identify and prevent faults from occurring and from becoming total equipment failures.

A good program will focus on safety, improving efficiency, optimizing utilities, reducing downtime, improving production quality, and reducing replacement costs, as well as preserving and maintaining relationships between management and employees.

“Every good program should have these as the bedrock or core values of your program design,” Corfield says.


Any outcomes of a preventive maintenance program, he says, are wrapped around time.

Every laundry facility needs to plan downtime, as that is less expensive than machine failures and unscheduled downtime. The availability of machinery means it is up and running and doing its job at an optimum rate, and routine maintenance helps extend the life of each machine, a common sight in well-maintained facilities. A facility also is looking to maintain its operating hours, Corfield says.

He suggests that any preventive maintenance program needs to be synonymous with a good safety program for laundry facilities. Good maintenance, like good housekeeping, protects the safety of the working environment, thus lessening the likelihood of injuries or fatalities.

While maintenance engineers are key to a good program, other members of a plant’s staff can be just as important for a successful maintenance program.

“We all walk through the plants, we all see things, so if we are on a comprehensive safety program, then we really have to start with the at-risk behaviors,” he says. “These are proven paradigms for managing and developing safety programs in commercial environments.”

He suggests a good program must eliminate possible problems by engineering systems that prevent personnel from engaging machinery in an unsafe manner such as two-hand controls or a trap key system. Also important are administrative procedures, including lock-out/tag-out systems, housekeeping and janitorial management of issues, warning signs, and training.

“I cannot say enough about your training environment and that training is not a one-time thing. It’s a lifetime thing,” Corfield says.

Another component of a good program is personal protective equipment that is in place and available to employees who have been trained to use it effectively.


Corfield says the best design is a program that actually is used by plant personnel. Housekeeping and record keeping are part of such a design.

“In an operation that runs two or three shifts seven days a week,” he says, “it becomes essential that people who are cleaning make note of any conditions that they see that need attention.

“Housekeeping needs to be absolutely diligent on keeping machines clean and free of moisture, grease, oils, lint and other things in a laundry that we see on a regular basis.”

Visual inspections and regularity of such inspections are part of a good preventive maintenance program.

Keys to a successful program, according to Corfield, are a complete survey of the plant and equipment, identifying necessary training for personnel, standards and procedures that are clear and understood, a management team that understands the necessity of a preventive maintenance program, communication of what tasks need to be done when, and that everything is monitored with reasonable expectations and that information is communicated to the staff.

When designing a preventive maintenance program, facility personnel must collect all data on all the machines, including model, year, serial numbers and modifications. It also helps to have the manufacturer’s preventive maintenance schedule on hand, so critical areas can be identified and monitored.

The experience of a maintenance engineer and other personnel also is key, Corfield says, which can help with identifying those critical areas as well as estimating the time each task will require. Programs must also look at the number of people assigned to tasks as well as the correct tools and parts needed to complete a task.

Check back tomorrow for Part 2: Reactive and Predictive

About the author

Jean Teller

Contributing Editor, American Trade Magazines

Jean Teller is contributing editor at American Trade Magazines. She can be contacted at


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