Travel grants students a valuable learning opportunity23 January 2018
The four winners of the Worshipful Company of Launderers Travel Scholarships 2017 talk about their fact-finding trip to a variety of Berendsen operations in Denmark
John Haden, engineer, Tibard Laundry Services
Donna Jones, decontamination manager, Imperial Laundry
Mildred Foo, office and customer services manager, Professional Laundry Services
Aimee McCormack, packing supervisor, Tibard Laundry Services
John Haden, Tibard Laundry Services
On arrival at Berendsen’s Danish headquarters in Søborg we met with Michael Iversen (operations director) and Michael Schuster Nyholm (divisional director). We were given a presentation on the business’s core values, its history and where it wants to be in the future. It was obvious that there had been a recent shakeup on all levels to allow this progress.
Berendsen is selling not only a service but also an experience to end users, and fully believes it plays a role in the experience of anyone staying in any of the rooms the laundry helps to service.
It was interesting to find out that Berendsen buys its linen through a local wholesaler instead of going direct to the mills, like some of the larger UK players.
I put the company’s success down to continued investment and encouragement of staff from the shop floor right up to managers. Berendsen also provides language classes for its multi-national staff pool in both Danish and English.
Berendsen Hillerød – hospitality
We were greeted by Henrik Bile Pedersen, plant manager, who told us this plant processes roughly 65,000 pieces of bedding a day. On a tour of the facility we saw everything from sorting through to packing, and were shown a board that held all of the information that was needed to run the plant that day. This information included the amount of pieces needed to fulfil orders, targets – including utility usage. This board was used in various meetings throughout the day.
Berendsen Roskilde – hospitality
Jørn Jørgensen, plant manager, showed us round this predominantly table linen and napkin processing facility which includes a secure unit for processing linen for the airlines flying in and out of Copenhagen airport. The plant processes roughly 50,000 pieces a day. We saw a new six lane small piece ironer line being fitted, allowing faster processing this formed part of their progression for efficiency and throughput.
We were instructed in all of the stages of the RFID system including the development of the software, installation of the linen tags, registration of the linen/tags in the system and the means to manage the linen at various points throughout the laundry process.
Berendsen Ølsted – healthcare
Jacob Petersen, plant manager, explained that the facility services private and government hospitals producing roughly 50,000 pieces a day. It is a few steps ahead of the Roskilde plant with RFID, as it is possible to track the linen to the hospital stockroom and keep track of the usage allowing change of the stock levels accordingly. This adds a service where Berendsen can manage the stock, taking the responsibility away from the customer, as well as tracking the linen at various points through the laundry process.
Although our guides had been there less than 12 months, they knew exactly what was needed and where they needed to be in terms of running the laundry. It was evident that again the emphasis was on the staff and constantly educating them and providing what they need to succeed.
Berendsen is a healthy, safe and attractive workplace where there is room for all regardless of background. Therefore, they focus on the improvement of physical conditions and wellbeing of the employees. At the same time Berendsen is constantly working to attract, motivate and retain good employees through networking, training and annual satisfaction surveys.
In comparison to the UK, the culture and attitude towards staff and end users is massively different, although not unattainable. In the UK I don’t think we are looking at the bigger picture and treat textile care it as a process where it is evident that in Denmark it is treated as a service with emphasis on staff and customer.
Donna Jones, Imperial Laundry
I had only ever been in one other laundry before so this was a real eye-opener for me. I found the trip to the healthcare plant extremely useful as we do a lot of healthcare work in our laundry and my current job title is decontamination manager for healthcare so this was extremely helpful.
I also found the RFID system very interesting and am going to look into this in more depth as a possibility for our laundry in the future. It was great to network with other people from different jobs and different types of laundries.
Berendsen’s motto is efficiency, and now I have seen a few new methods we can use to try and make our plant a little more efficient. The best bit about the trip was meeting new people and networking with them.
Aimee-Louise McCormick, Tibard
Roskilde was mainly chefs/workwear and technicians were installing the RFID system so it was the most hectic one of the three plants we visted. This plant also supplies tablecloths and blankets for aeroplanes and boats which I thought was a great idea as according to the manager and the graphs we were shown those areas are proving beneficial to the business.
Each of the three laundries we visited used a working system called LEAN. This meant that every day the managers take a class to train their employees.
They also have regular meetings within the shop floor where the plant manager, supervisors and team leaders inform each employee of their targets, which are also written on a whiteboard every day so the staff could see it whenever they needed to. The managers can then get to know their employees on a more personal level which I though was also a great idea.
Mildred Foo, PLS
It was really refreshing to get out of the office and experience how another laundry operates, especially one as progressive as Berendsen whose message throughout oiur visit was very clear – ‘Efficiency, Efficiency, and Efficiency’.
I came away with a lot of ideas which I hope to be able to implement at PLS. One of these is an email system between the back and day shift production supervisors. I believe this will not only improve communication between our supervisors but it will also give them more ownership over their work. At the first plant, I had the opportunity to look at the Berendsen portal – Connect. Customers enter their order which is processed and tags are printed out.
The office manager also showed me how abused stock is dealt with. The factory emails through photos which are then forwarded to the customer who is subsequently charged. Another idea was labelling cages by colour, depending on the day of week it has been collected to ensure we process the earliest collected cages first.
The first plant we visited had dedicated staff responsible for all rejects and these were returned in yellow bags by customers. Rejects were then examined and where possible, mended, washed at a higher temperature, but if not successfully, discarded. I have suggested we follow suit at PLS and disposable purple bags are currently being ordered to be included with each delivery.
Berendsen’s healthcare plant was the most advanced with RFID. We learned about the process from when the linen returns to the plant, at which stage of the wash process it is at, when it gets delivered, and how long it has been at the customers’ premises. After 150 days, any unreturned items are considered lost and customers are charged the replacement price. Finally, I noticed several feel good factors at each of the plants like complimentary tea/coffee for all staff, a fussball machine, a dog friendly reception and that all the general managers were dressed in denim. It may not seem like a lot but I think small details like these ‘make’ the workplace.