Setting Laundry Operations on Automatic (Conclusion)
Finally, the automation should help manage linen inventory levels and related investment without compromising customer service. “Automation has become very important in the your financed equipment payment each month.” “Manufacturers, such as Maytag
CHICAGO — Automation, simply put, is the use of various types of control systems to operate equipment and processes—without human interaction being necessary. Automation is seen in the production of cars and trucks, food and beverage processing, even in flying an airplane. The laundry industry has turned to automation as well. A main objective of laundry automation is to reduce labor costs by reducing the “number of physical touches” that employees have with the linen, which results in increasing PPOH (pounds per operator hour), according to David Carter, vice president... He says another objective is to reduce utilities usage per pound processed. Finally, the automation should help manage linen inventory levels and related investment without compromising customer service. “Automation has become very important in the laundry with the drastic increases in labor costs,” says Tony Jackson, director of national accounts for equipment maker Kannegiesser USA. “It is much safer for employees, especially in the washroom, to not manually load washer-extractors in large batches. Joe Gudenburr, president of equipment manufacturer G. A. Braun Inc. , agrees that automation can afford a laundry operation a great many benefits. Improvements can reduce labor, overall operating hours, and energy, water and chemical consumption, and result in improved inventory control and turn rates and better finished-product quality. He says the improvements can be achieved and sustained as long as the appropriate process controls, discipline and operational maintenance protocols are put into place and factored into the design and implementation of any automated solution. “A failure to design, plan and optimize the strategy for implementing automated solutions will result in a less-than-desired outcome,” Gudenburr says. The importance of due diligence, and a qualified process for designing and implementing solutions, cannot be overstated. CHOOSING EQUIPMENT If a laundry decides that automation would benefit its operations, then it needs to take the next step: purchase the right equipment. When it comes to selecting automated equipment, Carter recommends that a laundry establish specific criteria. He says the automation should be “scalable”. “Typically, the higher laundry-processing volume provides the opportunity for justification of the capital investment in automation,” says Carter. He also says that automation equipment should have real-time feedback that provides production data, utility consumption usage data and linen inventory levels. “When compared to defined standards, real-time management information systems enhance the opportunity to take corrective actions to improve laundry operation performance,” he says. Gudenburr says it’s important that an automation strategy is well-defined and that it takes into consideration all of the input and output variables and process areas before it is implemented. “This helps prioritize the sequence by which solutions are implemented and assures that the maximum return is achieved from said products,” he says. Take the time to go and see the solutions in use, to understand how they are designed, produced and what the long-term support systems and services are for said solutions. “It is great when a solution gets implemented and works, but it is not good when it becomes unsupported and overly complex to own and operate as it ages. Seth Willer, national sales manager for equipment manufacturer Girbau Industrial , says there are always two costs when a laundry buys automated equipment: the cost of the machine and the cost of ownership with or without that machine. “The cost of the machine may seem like a lot, but what’s its operational impact. “Compare your finance payment to operational cost savings. Many times, the difference in labor costs will make up for your financed equipment payment each month. “Manufacturers, such as Maytag Commercial Laundry and ADC, engineer a wide range of their washers and dryers with automated technology that can help laundry operations maximize throughput and run more efficiently,” says Steve Hietpas,... He says that microprocessor controls are highly important to the laundry operation and offer an easy-to-use system with one-touch program selection that can control all aspects of the washing process.
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