CHICAGO — Jon Witschy, sales manager of Spindle Technologies’ management software team, is a true believer of the adage, “What gets measured gets managed.”
“It’s very important to have good criteria for determining how well things are going in the business,” he says.
Witschy applied this adage and stressed the importance of creating standards and criteria for laundry processes in a recent webinar hosted by the Association for Linen Management (ALM), titled Set Expectations, Track Results and Make an Impact on Your Bottom Line.
“Standards allow you to review the inner workings within a facility to make improvements possible in various areas, and to zero in on issues, whether it’s with personnel or production equipment, or process flow,” says Witschy, who adds that standards ultimately create structure and cohesion within a business.
“The standards, and the analysis of the standards, become a language that is understood at all levels of the organization, from the plant floor to management.”
NEED FOR PRODUCTION STANDARDS
One metric of determining whether a business is accomplishing cohesion is through the work performance of its team members.
“Operators benefit from detailed feedback on their individual performance, and that can’t really be measured [without standards],” says Witschy. “[Standards] make it more possible to coach employees, in that coaching becomes more accurate.”
This is especially true, according to Witschy, for laundry operators who manage multiple locations.
“Multi-site operations have the opportunity to set benchmarks so that production performance evaluation can zero in on the differences between facilities. … Standards become those ‘eyes’ that are always on.”
The need for developing operational standards is also important for operators whose facilities employ unionized labor workers, he adds.
“For unionized labor, the contract is typically based on a standard, which needs to be mutually beneficial,” according to Witschy. “The use of the objective [standards] will prevent, or can be used to counter, any possibility for grievances.”
WHAT SHOULD BE MONITORED?
In a laundry facility, processes that involve a piece count; operations tracked by weight; activities producing bulk units; and jobs that have a desired time limit are some of the many areas where operators can develop and implement a standardized process, according to Witschy.
“Pieces running across an ironer or the weight sorted in the soil slings may be pretty straightforward, but some processes might not immediately appear to have an easily determined standard,” he says, stressing the need for operators to think creatively.
“You might go ahead and set a weight for processing, as opposed to counting the carts that go out, or you might set a number of exchange carts per hour, recognizing that the performance against that standard might go up and down during the day.”
DEVELOPMENT OF STANDARDS
For operators looking to set up or refresh their current operational standards, Witschy advises them to turn to equipment vendors that can provide specifications on a piece of equipment or type of product, or to use benchmarks established by industry associations.
“Equipment vendor specifications and industry benchmarks are certainly a good place to start, but they don’t necessarily take into account your process flow and all of the specifics of your operation,” says Witschy.
Because of this, he points to industrial engineering time studies as another source that can provide minute details of a process, from where a cart should be positioned in the facility to how the operator should pull goods from the cart.
“They’re specific to the operation, the equipment, the products in a plant, and they can include time and motion analyses that might even … deliver an improvement to the performance in a plant,” he says.
There is typically a cost to conduct industrial engineering time studies, and Witschy advises laundry operators to look in-house for someone who may have experience in conducting them.
Check back Thursday for the conclusion!