The introduction of a Windows-based data management system and handheld computers for shopfloor data entry has given Green Vale Linen services greater control over its workload and improved the efficiency of its order handling.

Green Vale, owned and run by Gwent Health Care Trust, is the largest NHS laundry in Wales, processing over 180 000 items per week and handling the laundry requirements for seven health trusts as well as numerous commercial clients.


Before the new system was introduced, Green Vale’s control and monitoring systems had been managed on a computer network using DOS-based software. Information from the shopfloor was entered manually via a terminal in the administration department, generating large amounts of paperwork and also causing bottlenecks as there was only one entry point.

The only means of recording order details on the shopfloor was by individual handwritten notes and this risked inaccuracies and also lost information. The difficulties were compounded by the fact that orders are often changed throughout the day or night, and these alterations can even come through when the order is already being processed.

The Gwent Trust asked Tricom Technology to improve the efficiency of data recording and the quality of information. Tricom first recommended a switch to a Windows-based system allowing several users to access the system at the same time.

Tricom also decided to increase the data entry terminals and here the solution was to give shopfloor staff handheld data capture systems that could record information in real time, store it and eventually download it onto the central system.

Palm held

For this, Tricom recommended Palm Pilot, a lightweight, battery powered electronic organiser and data collection system made by US manufacturer 3COM. It operates on a touch-screen and applications are selected via icons or from a menu.

The Palm Pilots have been relatively easy to introduce and even staff unused to a computer have found them easy to use. The ability to enter data in real-time has been a great advantage, as last- minute additions to orders can be integrated into the work schedule automatically.

Other advantages have been improved accuracy in recording and monitoring, quicker communication between administrators and the shopfloor, better contact with clients on order progress, greater flexibility in work scheduling, and a reduced risk of lost or mistyped data. The system also allows reports to be generated at all stages, giving greater control and better management of the workload.