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Survey: Operators Ensure Workers Keep Cool as Summer Temps Flare

CHICAGO — “Overheating employees” is the most difficult challenge to combat during summer for the majority (41.2%) of laundry managers and administrators, according to results in this month’s American Laundry News Your Views survey.

Equal shares of 3.9% say that “power outages” or “rapid growth of mold/mildew” are the most cumbersome effects of summer weather at their facility, with a small percentage (2.0%) citing “stress on equipment” as the most challenging.

While no one taking the survey found “severe storms” to be problematic, 23.5% say “all or most” of the listed effects of summer heat/weather are challenging overall. Though roughly 18% say summer heat/weather “does not impact [them],” 7.8% found “other” effects difficult to combat, with one operator facing a “lack of revenue as [his/her] customers close for three to four months.”

More than half of respondents (52.9%) say that summer heat/weather “slow operations,” while 47.1% say it has no effect at their facility. A resounding 80.8% say that, on average, employee performance “falters” when the heat and humidity kick in, while 19.2% say otherwise.

Frequent breaks and use of various cooling equipment, like air conditioning, fans and spot coolers, are among some strategies operators have implemented at their plant to help employees beat the heat.

“Each piece of equipment has an operator-controlled fan,” a respondent says. “Gatorade is offered at anytime the employee requires, [and] cold towels are available to wrap around their necks.”

When it comes to keeping machinery running efficiently when temperatures rise, many operators (15.4%) perform “regular maintenance,” while equal shares of 9.6% “monitor equipment constantly” or direct employees to “note and report changes” in equipment performance. Roughly 2% “ensure air conditioning/cooling systems are working properly,” while the majority (63.5%) use “all of the above” tactics to keep machinery in working order in hot weather. No one who took the survey identified “other” alternatives.

The summer heat can also present challenges on the finishing side of the operation for some managers.

“Products may mildew quicker, [particularly] damp products,” one says.

“Humidity in [area] requires a slight adjustment to the drying cycles on certain linen items,” says another.

Whatever the challenges they face at work, operators are finding ways to wind down during summer vacation.

“[I am] forgetting about laundry and riding my Harley,” one says.

Some will be taking long breaks from work while another respondent says, “Summer time is when we have the most business coming in. Vacations are for December when business is at our lowest point.”

While the Your Views survey presents a snapshot of readers’ viewpoints at a particular moment, it should not be considered scientific. Subscribers to American Laundry News e-mails are invited to take the industry survey anonymously online each month. Due to rounding, percentages may not add up to 100%.

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 industry trends.

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