“I’m looking at implementing some sort of system to track the hourly production of my washroom and finishing department. What can you suggest? Does your operation use such a system? What kind of reaction can I expect from my production employees when I put one in?”Equipment DistributionCurtis McDowell, Laundry CityEquipment, Indianapolis, Ind.:
Implementing a tracking system for your laundry production can not only provide you with important information about operating costs, it will help you gauge your employees’ overall productivity.
Aside from receiving and sorting soiled linen, the real monitoring should center around your washers. Mike Murphy, a veteran commercial laundry designer, told me, “Washer load count is the key, because if it’s not washed, it’s not dried, ironed or folded.”
Many washer manufacturers offer the ability to count the number of times an individual formula has run by accessing the computer’s management functions. For washers without that capability, it’s best to put some form of manual chart on the machine and have the employees mark it every time they process a load. Be sure to distinguish between full and partial loads.
It’s also important to familiarize yourself with your washers’ capabilities and the length of your programmed cycles. If either one is producing inconsistent results, check for mechanical and/or programming problems before tracking your production.
Be sure to follow these same rules when considering the finishing portion of your production.
While you can accurately gauge the consistent productivity of your equipment based upon the science of its mechanics, the real variable is how productive your employees are on a regular basis.
Showing an honest interest in their performance can reap far more rewards than upgrading from a 100 G-force washer to a 300 G-force washer. While the faster washer may enhance production, it’s the employee who decides how quickly to transfer the load. Gains from high-efficiency equipment can be lost to unmotivated workers.
The end result of any laundry production tracking system should be to improve the overall profitability of your operation. Identifying lost time will ultimately lead you to lost revenue. It’s important, however, to remember that an employee who becomes more productive deserves more reward. So, when you find that lost revenue, don’t forget who helped and share the wealth.ConsultingGerard O’Neill, American Laundry Systems, Haverhill, Mass.:
I’m going to assume you are either doing nothing or are logging information on paper. If so, you need to take the next step to proper production reporting.
If the only question is if you should implement such a program, my answer is absolutely. As a consultant to the laundry industry, we recommend to all of our customers the implementation of some level of production tracking.
To get started, I have a few questions for you:
1. What are you doing now? Nothing? Collecting slips of paper with numbers written on them? Checking a clipboard from the wash floor that has numbers written on it that happen to be the same from start to finish? Yeah, that’s accurate. Or, “We got everything out the door to the customer at the end of the day, so it must have been a productive day.”
2. Who is running your facility? Employees or management? I’ve seen many laundries where management thought they had control, but the actual truth was nowhere near that.
3. What type of chemical, wash floor and finishing equipment do you operate? Do you have a scale for the soiled-linen receiving department? Your answers will likely determine what type of program you’ll be able to install.
4. By implementing production tracking, what are you going to do with the information?
If you don’t make the employees accountable, why track? And if you’re going to make your employees accountable, are you willing to also be held accountable? If the answer to question 4 is “Nothing,” then stop right now! The hard work and sweat to implement a program will be a waste of your time and only cause you to lose sleep at night.
About your employees’ reaction, if the new system is implemented properly, with goals communicated and production standards set, you’ll be on your way to increasing your pounds per operator hour.
I truly believe that most individuals crave satisfaction, recognition, attaining goals and bettering themselves. But human nature also wants to be rewarded for attaining and surpassing goals. You need to think beyond just attaining set standards. What will you do when they get there?