CHICAGO – As businesses continue to work on more normal operations, laundry companies are seeing an increase in the volume of goods they process.
Although growth is good, a plant’s ability can sometimes be strained. Then maybe it is time for the laundry to consider adding more equipment, within the space they have, to deal with the increase in pounds per hour.
The question then becomes to assess the current operation of the laundry and to determine the best course of action to follow as it grows.
American Laundry News spoke with representatives of two consulting firms who shared their expertise on expanding laundry equipment.
The first is Ken Arnopole, owner of Arnopole & Associates, a professional laundry design and consulting service focused on the West Coast and Hawaii since 1979, who explains what a laundry needs to consider before even thinking about new equipment.
INFORMATION IS KEY
When it comes to determining the need to add laundry equipment and expand, information is key.
“First of all, will it depend a bit on the linen supply?” Is it about clothes? What kind of plant? said Arnopole. âSecond, from a management point of view, it is important that the factory itself knows what it is currently doing for the best optimization of what it has.
âAnd by that, I mean, a lot of the factories that I review, they don’t know how many pieces per hour each department is making. They don’t have an objective point of view.
As an example, he shares a case where the son of a factory owner in Los Angles wanted a new building.
âHe was driving the BMW with the personalized number plates,â Arnopole shares. âDad started the business one route at a time. The young kid who wants to build the laundry room his father doesn’t want to spend money, but the kid wants the fancy place. Their goals were different.
As he worked on the design of a new factory, looking at the square footage against the company’s production needs, frustration set in. The operation did not need a new installation; he needed to renovate his current factory, which could have doubled production.
âI think that an operator must first be fully aware of his costs,â says Arnopole. âWhat their space is currently using and why.
âThere are a lot of things that should be looked at to make sure they are currently working efficiently before purchasing another shirt press, just pulling out more shirts or adding another washing machine to the line. . “
He says that’s one of the first questions he asks: Does the laundry really need new equipment, or is there something else that needs to be adjusted in the factory?
For example, suppose a laundry has five 200-pound washers on-line and the operation needs to go from 1,000 pounds per hour to 1,500 pounds per hour.
“Do you buy a 400-pound washer or do you get a little more than a couple of what you’ve got?” Arnopole points out. âThere are a lot of decisions to be made based on your needs.
“But now, if I do more washing, where do I put it when it comes out?” Do I have the floor space to hold it before the next production step? What if I wash more, will I be able to iron more? Will my ironers be able to handle the extra production, or my folders, or my presses?
âSo it’s not just a matter of how many pounds you put in the toilet. This is the number of pounds you put in the whole plant.
Another factor to consider with equipment expansion is return on investment (ROI), Arnopole shares.
“You don’t want to spend $ 70,000 on a 400-pound tilting washing machine when you might be able to run your existing toilet for two more hours until the payback is there,” says -he. âIt depends so much on the actual operation.
âThere is so much to consider when it comes to increasing production within the plant. And number 1, obviously, is making sure you’re producing enough and on the limit before you spend your money.
Arnopole recommends that laundry operations carry out a regular audit of its installations, equipment and processes.
âEvery five years or so, go through the factory; do an audit of everything, âhe says. âLook at all systems, all in a global sense. How old is the equipment? Should it be replaced or not? How much water are you using? All of these factors come into play in production audits.
Arnopole suggests using an independent external source to help with the audit and planning of equipment expansion, then partnering with equipment suppliers, chemical suppliers, etc., to create the expansion solutions required for the specific laundry operation.
âGet good honest answers and get good feedback,â he recommends. âThat’s when they even plan to expand their equipment. “
Check back on Thursday as Ted Barry of John Barry & Associates takes a look at the steps in his business to maximize productivity in the available space.