I spend a great deal of time monitoring safety, quality and production with my staff. I read American Laundry News as often as I can, and would like to offer you a letter regarding our plant operation and how we view pounds per operator hour (PPOH).
We believe in safety first, quality second and production third. Our motto here is, “Complete the first two correctly and the third will always follow.” The question is, do the numbers really match at the end of the day?
I run an HLAC-accredited healthcare laundry, and we process close to 10 million pounds of mixed rental and COG linen a year. We soil-sort manually, have conventional washers and a semi-automated finishing department, and wrap clean goods manually. As a fairly new plant, only 3 years old, I feel proud of what Southern Textile Services has accomplished in such a short amount of time.
Being new to the industry, we have spent a lot of time researching, learning first-hand, and consulting with others on what is the “standard.” I’m sure your other readers have standards for safety and for quality, but what is their standard for production? The fact of the matter is the standard for one laundry may not be the standard for the next.
The only standards that should flow from one laundry to the next are safety and quality. Productivity standards should, and will, vary from operation to operation, based on volume, equipment, plant layout and types of linen.
My plant has gone through growing pains, and I have seen our production numbers go up and down. Within our first year, my team had adjusted to the volume and equipment in place and we were averaging 100 PPOH per week (including all labor hours, inventory, wrappers, etc.). Then we brought on new customers, which meant a need for more equipment, and new employees to run that equipment, as well as an extra supervisor to manage the extra hours to produce the new volume.
With all these changes, I saw our PPOH drop into the low to mid-90s. After regrouping, I found we needed to adjust a few scheduling issues, and maybe a couple employees here and there, but it all boiled down to one thing: standards.
I have found it essential to measure each cost center’s performance, whether that cost center is sorting, wash room, or small-piece folding, and to give that cost center a standard. Also, it’s vital to measure each employee daily and hold them accountable to that standard in order to increase PPOH.
We were able to achieve this without forsaking safety or quality. In fact, during our study, we found ways to improve safety and quality by being proactive, staging goods and working at a more consistent pace, vs. reacting to the flow of the mixed rental/COG goods. During the process, we found a need to put in place a quality-control person as an extra measure of quality, and in doing so received multiple compliments from our customers about the linen quality they received.
With our standard in place for all to follow, we have daily accountability meetings with our employees, and weekly accountability meetings with managers. I give my supervisors a daily goal sheet that informs them of the daily weights, and each cost center’s hourly goals. I have given them the tools and the training to use them to accomplish the goal at hand, and expect no less than “standard.”
I track my plant’s PPOH and our employee standards each and every day. As an extra measure of accountability, I post employees’ daily standards as well as the supervisor’s daily plant PPOH for everyone to see. I have found that you get more feedback, and better PPOH, when everyone can see the bigger picture.
That’s not to say that we don’t still hit those bumps in the road, but our volume is up and our labor dollars are down. Our PPOH managed to reach an average of 110 per week without us having to make drastic upgrades to our equipment, such as sling systems, tunnel washers or an automated sort system. We are quickly on our way to meeting a weekly goal of 120 PPOH.
Thank you for the service that you and the staff at American Laundry News provide to the laundry community.
Southern Textile Services