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Survey: Majority of Laundry Managers Involved with Basic Maintenance in Some Capacity

Lack of skilled workers affects maintenance efforts

CHICAGO — When it comes to handling the most basic equipment maintenance, the majority of laundry/linen service managers are involved at some level in the process. The rest rely on experienced technicians.

That’s the result of a recent American Laundry News Your Views survey.

When asked about their role in performing basic equipment maintenance in the laundry, the majority of respondents indicate that they do some portion of the facility’s basic maintenance, with “I do most of it” and “I do some of it” each receiving 25% of the responses. Less than 4% indicate “I do very little of it.”

Only 3.6% of respondents indicate “I handle it all myself.” That’s in comparison to the nearly 43% who say “I don’t perform any maintenance myself.”

One survey taker had a particularly strong view on being involved with equipment maintenance: “If you cannot fix your own equipment, you might as well close the doors.”

“Even in that rare time when everything is working, it’s important to be listening to your plant, doing the walk around and always watching,” shares another.

Others have a different view: “Most repairs get contracted out.”

When it comes to being able to handle the basics, most laundry managers who took the survey seem to have the necessary skills. When asked if a repair they did ever backfired, 82% indicate that hasn’t happened.

Of the 18% who have had a maintenance effort go awry, it seems that the repairs were more involved than anticipated.

“Deeper underlying root cause issues were unseen,” shares a survey taker.

“After repairing a broken chain on a CBW, the timing wasn’t reassessed, which started off a whole series of unfortunate events leading additional repairs and time spent with downed equipment,” writes another.

It doesn’t seem that equipment complexity is an issue, with almost 54% of respondents indicating that performing basic maintenance on equipment today is no different than in the past. In fact, more than 23% say it’s easier, while another 23% indicate it’s more difficult to perform maintenance on equipment today than in the past.

That being said, respondents indicate that finding skilled workers for maintenance is a challenge today. 

When asked, “Have you had challenges finding skilled labor to handle maintenance in your facility?,” more than 70% of survey takers say yes, while just under 30% indicate they haven’t had a problem.

“It’s difficult to get timely repair/maintenance due to the shortage of trained techs,” a respondent writes.

Another puts it more bluntly: “Crisis situation to find capable personnel.”

“Using a PM program helps,” shares a survey taker.

In fact, 75% of respondents indicate that no matter who handles maintenance, they have formal schedules for completing these tasks, compared to 25% that don’t have a schedule.

When service technicians do have to handle maintenance tasks in a laundry plant, more than 60% of respondents say the technicians do either a good or great job. Nearly 29% indicate the technicians do an average job, and only 7.1% say the experience is “poor — there are always problems when someone comes out.”

Only 3.6% say they’ve never called a repair person.

“Too often our staff doesn’t have the confidence or skills to perform every task,” a respondent writes.

That’s where service schools offered by equipment manufacturers and distributors can help. Most operators (53.7%) says these schools are very valuable to themselves and staff, while 32.1% indicate they are somewhat valuable.

Only 10.7% are neutral when it comes to how valuable service schools are, and a scant 3.6% don’t consider them valuable at all.

“We need to find ways to get basic maintenance done by the operators,” shares a respondent.

While the Your Views survey presents a snapshot of readers’ viewpoints at a particular moment, it should not be considered scientific. Due to rounding, percentages may not add up to 100%.

Subscribers to American Laundry News e-mails are invited to take the industry survey anonymously online each quarter. All managers and administrators of institutional/OPL, cooperative, commercial and industrial laundries are encouraged to participate, as a greater number of responses will help to better define operator opinions and identify industry trends.

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Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Matt Poe at [email protected].