“My laundry isn't all that large. I am always looking for tips and advice to make the most of our production space. What general suggestions can you give me about how best to operate in cramped quarters?"
COMMERCIAL LAUNDERING: Richard Warren is the general manager of Linen King of Central Arkansas, a commercial laundry that provides COG, rental and linen distribution services for healthcare clients. His experience also includes OPL and industrial laundering, linen supply, and leather/fur cleaning.
The rule of thumb for plant size is one square foot for each pound of laundry processed in a day. Using that measurement, you can get an idea of how you compare with others. This isn’t just a problem for “small” laundries, as any laundry can run out of room if space is wasted.
A dryer operator once told me he’d be willing to donate toward the purchase of more carts to hold the dried linen. He was surprised to learn that it was a production problem, not a storage problem. When the production was up to par, there was no more talk about carts. Oftentimes, poor production makes people think they don’t have enough room. In reality, the linen is sitting there too long.
This reminds me of Thanksgiving dinner. The room isn’t large, but the crowd is. The solution: eat in shifts. The laundry situation may be similar. Only a limited number of people can be around the equipment at any given time.
The initial reaction is to purchase more equipment. But you have no room, so you add second and third shifts. That isn’t as bad as it may sound, because your equipment will be accomplishing tasks instead of sitting idle.
You won’t need as many machines, but longer hours of operation may make maintenance a bit more challenging.
Another idea is to stagger rest breaks or start times so that your machines continue to operate during rest periods. You’re probably doing that with washers and dryers anyway, so the concept isn’t foreign.
Are carts of “orphaned” linen or unused equipment still sitting in your plant? Do you have an excessive number of trash containers?
Are linen carts, tools, repair parts, new linen, etc., stored on the same floor level as plant operations? Can you use smaller rewash containers?
Some laundries install a metal roof and store their soiled work outside until it’s ready to be sorted. Another twist is using trucks for clean-linen storage. Or you might consider purchasing a couple of tractor-trailers. They’re weatherproof, dock-high and can be secured if necessary.
EQUIPMENT DISTRIBUTION: Scott McClure is vice president of sales for Pellerin Laundry Machinery Sales, Kenner, La. He was hired as CAD engineer in 1992 and became the Louisiana sales rep in 1996, winning numerous awards while in the post. He became sales manager in 2003 and VP of sales the following year. He oversees sales in a seven-state territory.
Not having enough space is a common problem, particularly in on-premise laundries where space is essential for guest rooms, patient beds, meeting and banquet facilities, etc. The key factor is to implement a proper linen flow.
We recommend two designs whenever possible. The “straight line” approach moves goods from one end to the other and works best in long, narrow, rectangular-shaped laundries. The “U-shaped” design has the soil and clean door/docks on the same side of the laundry, with the linen flowing in a “U” from the soil entrance to the clean exit. This design works best in a more square-shaped laundry.
There are several equipment solutions available when floor space is limited. Soil and/or clean rail systems can significantly increase a laundry’s floor space. Proper ceiling height is a challenge. Depending on what equipment the slings are loading, a rail system could require up to 24 feet, particularly if utilization of the space below sling storage is desired.
We have utilized conveyors on the clean side to transport linen from several different towel and sheet folders to one central makeup area. The conveyors help prevent the scattering of employees making up carts in several different confined areas. Conveyors can also be placed against walls to transport linen out of cramped areas.
Some manufacturers produce all-in-one ironer/folder/crossfolders that allow complete high-speed finishing in about half the floor space required by a separate ironer and folder. Utilizing automation, such as continuous-batch washing systems, can also maximize floor space by using equipment instead of employees and carts to transport linen from washing to drying to finishing.
Even choosing the proper carts and linen-storage devices, such as using taller carts, can help overcome tight quarters.