The most basic questions any laundry operator would ask before purchasing a publication such as the Laundry Supervisor Manual, compiled, edited and published by the Laundry Technology Centre, are: “Am I getting value for money?” and “Will it help in the training of supervisors?” After an in-depth read and study of the publication I came to the conclusion that the answers to these questions were yes. It does provide value for money and it does help with training.

In the first instance it is, without doubt, a comprehensive and well put together volume covering almost all aspects of laundry procedures, from the collection of linen, through the sorting room and all other departments in a textile care plant, processing hospital or rental linen, up to the packaging and final despatch of the finished product.

The manual begins with an informed chapter on “Communications”. Focus is placed on the importance of developing lucid communication skills—with emphasis on: communicating with staff either as a group or as individuals; reprimand techniques in private; praising in public; training session communications; and ensuring notices are prominently displayed.

The manual then moves into the area of identification, focusing on supervisors’ understanding of the labelling of chemical products and the meaning of warning sign symbols, prior to providing the supervisor with a list of recommendations on laundering and finishing processes.

The chapter also covers supervisor communication with customers in cases of complaint. There is even a warning the use of physical contact as a means of communicating, as dependent on the circumstances, could be misconstrued as sexual harassment.

There is also a chapter on training, designed to emphasise the importance of the subject so that new staff understand the tasks they are to perform, as well as the safety procedures involved and the methods employed by all individuals or members of a production team.

The first five chapters are comprehensive in their coverage of all aspects of communication, training , discipline and health and safety. A seperate dossier on organisation and administration to be used in conjunction with one or more of the following eleven chapters, which are more technically orientated, would have been useful.

I would also have liked to have seen a terminology section devoted to giving the full names of the abbreviations used throughout the manual. For the supervisor new to the industry such a glossary is essential.

Chapters 6 to 15 deal with the organisational and technical processing procedures throughout a laundry, starting with garment reception and dealing with all the various tasks involved, including the steps which have to be taken to protect employees’ health.

Following is a chapter on washing and tumbling conditioning, including continuous batch washer processing, equipment care and maintenance, risk assessment, health and safety in the washroom, and so on.

One chapter is devoted to the calender (multi-roll ironer) with focus on its operation, processing techniques for various linen classifications, ironer bed cleaning, clothing maintenance, as well as guard protection from drive parts and the need for a functional finger guard over the ironer feed bands, as well as the positions of the red on/off safety button switch.

Comprehensive in its detail is another chapter dealing with pressing, tunnel finishing and dry folding. There is also a section on each department of a normal laundry operation, from sewing and marking rooms to clean rooms and soft packs.

Following a full study of the manual, I came to the conclusion that it was more appropriate for study by supervisors wanting to move up to junior manager status.

For the department floor supervisor or chargehand, however, it is too comprehensive and would be better published in two separate sections—the first five chapters being a single volume, a volume for laundering through continuous batch washers and washer-extractors, ironing and other finishing techniques and a third volume on despatch, presentation and delivery by smartly attired drivers and their assistants.

In a final statement, I would say that the LTC manual is a useful one for supervisors looking for promotion, but a little unwieldy for department supervisors. I cannot see the despatch department supervisor needing to be trained in washroom processes and techniques or the ironing department supervisor benefitting from having to learn sorting room methods.

Nonetheless, it is a first class reference manual for which the publishers—the Laundry Technology Centre—are to be complimented.