Many commercial laundry plants have been in existence for decades. In some cases, the operations are even separated into different buildings. In looking at efficiencies in “product flow”, it would be a great exercise to start with a fresh empty map of the operation.
Look at how products, such as table linen would flow in a “U” shaped or “straight through” configuration; where soiled product comes in one side and exits the other; or flows from one side – in a “U” – to the other. This exercise will undoubtedly bring some insight into possible improvements in product flow and efficiency. It’s not only the direction of product flow, but the staging of product in front of machines and operations, so that production is continuous and without interruption.
Questions to be addressed:
- Is the soil sorted by load, pre-weighed, and ready for the wash floor?
- Is the dried or conditioned product stationed up behind the next finish operation?
- Is the finished product arranged and shelved in a way most efficient in pulling your new loads?
- Is the soil washed and finished in an order that allows full loads to be readied for the routes, without having to go back and finish the fill?
These are all questions that should be addressed with a fresh look at the operation. And many times, good vendor partners can provide such efficiency audits at no charge, providing a fresh view of the operation. In addition to product flow, labor movement/management can assist in efficiency of production.
For instance, you may have certain times of the day where the largest amount of specific product is running through machinery… such as ironers. It is important to have those machines at full capacity, even if you have to pull labor from other departments to make sure that all the lanes are running. This not only maximizes labor use, but reduces utilities in some cases.
With regard to soil sorting, one would think that an industry such as ours has that part covered. But a review of this part of the textile journey can sometimes increase efficiency, as well as cleanliness of the product. For instance, there are some table linens that can and should be washed together, that are not obvious. Milliken’s “Checkpoint” and “Signature Stripe Bistro Napkins” are designed to wash with pure whites. Many operators are not aware of this. Other products should not be washed together, such as any microfiber product mixed with cotton textiles. A review of soil sorting with your vendors is a good idea; especially in table linens. The key elements are product soil mix, staging at all parts of the process, labor station management, and final product shelving. Good management of these elements all point to production efficiency.