Good management depends on several factors. These include production that is designed to deliver a smooth flow of work and the ability to monitor events both from the point of view of individual operators and production as a whole.
Managers also need to assess performance in terms of production, operational costs and profitability in the market place both currently and in the future.
Information is vital. At WSP, the Netherlands based company that specialises in developing complete logistics solutions for industrial laundries. Redmer Aarnink says that the company offers an independent audit to identify areas of the business that could be improved. This covers all aspects including not only the logistics of the production flow but also at areas such as energy consumption and the internal financial management.
The financial aspect includes the way laundries charge their customers. Is there a small detail that is currently being provided without charge that could have a considerable impact on the laundry’s costs over time? If a sheet of plastic is used to cover linen during transportation, then perhaps that service could be offered as an option for just a few cents.
The audit will give the customer information about profit and loss on all stages. It is provided at a fixed sum and goes beyond WSP’s solutions. The customer must then decide where to take action.
To improve the way a laundry is managed, it is important to have a continuous flow of information about the organisation, including areas such as energy consumption, machine and operator performance, as well as over all productivity. WSP’s laundry Dashboard provides this in real-time. It can also inform on other aspects, such as which customers are the most profitable for the laundry.
WinWash will help to regulate the flow of work through production, making sure that the right type of linen arrives on the line in the right amount and at the right time to avoid bottlenecks and ensure a smooth flow.

Laundry managers must constantly make decisions both on day-to-day basis and in the longer term, says Nick Nelson, chairman of Micross Automation Systems. Daily decisions might include which customers’ orders or which type of work needs to take priority to achieve that day’s targets or identifying machine faults so immediate action can be taken.
These priorities may change periodically so that decisions are needed on matters such as the allocation of staff, or on which machines to use for particular categories,
Longer term decisions could involve the timing of machine replacement, based on performance, frequency of faults, or on efficiency in utility/chemicals use.
Management software systems, such as Micross Tracknet provide both detail and overview, from a screen in the managers office. A new installation would typically show a plan of the entire laundry, which can then be zoomed in to show greater detail of a specific area. Each batch of work can be visually tracked through the production line. Similarly the system shows the location of each member of the production team.
It can also produce charts showing the progress made compared with the planned production and where changes are needed.
To help with long-term planning, the system can also produce historic reports that help management to build-up a picture of performance over a period of time and predict how this is likely to affect the future.
Equipment manufacturers also work to help their customers improve efficiency of the operation. Jensen- Group’s Cockpit is central to its approach. Here the laundry manager can see what is happening in any part of the laundry at any time, get an overview of the whole plant or look at a specific aspect of the operation in detail. The group has implemented such systems worldwide.
Jensen UK is currently working with Faversham Laundry to implement an integrated system. The first phase has been to organise the workflow. This stage is based on the Jenrail materials handling system which feeds work from the washroom in to the ironer lines via the Logic Plus feeder.
The laundry has two Viking linen pickers, which feed work on "finger-stop" belts into six loading stations with four lanes of Jenrail storage for holding work ready for transfer to the ironers at the right time. Hardware is equipped with RFID tracking, if linen is rejected and sent for re-wash or repair, the necessary information is also transferred.
Two developments have been introduced in the ironer line. First, the ironer automatically adjusts the temperature adjustment when the linen category changes. Second, if a fault occurs on the folder, then the linen on the ironer is ejected onto a conveyor situated between the ironer and folder, rather than remaining in the ironer when it stops, which can risk discolouration.
Jensen is now installing the Cockpit, which will give a
real-time data on various aspects of a laundry’s performance. and allows reports to be produced at all levels.

The Cockpit will be fully integrated with all stages of the laundry production. It will provide full energy management, collecting precise data on gas/water/ steam and electrical use from meters that have been installed on all machines.
The laundry will also be able to monitor chemical use and interact with the wash conditions that are being monitored through the EcoGuard systems on each tunnel washer. In this way, the Laundry will be able to monitor in real time, the water hardness/pH and conductivity in the rinse zone and collect an accurate record of each process.
Faversham Laundry has installed Jensen’s WR dryers with integrated heat recovery. It wanted to show evaporation rates and gas usage to the "last kW" so Jensen as taken data collection a stage further by monitoring moisture retention linked to load weight, comparing it with the weight of the cake when it came out of the press and also with the weight load of the load after drying.
This, says Jensen, is an industry first and a benchmark for giving energy consumption data.
The data that the Cockpit collects will allow the laundry to see the total consumption figures, for any of its customers or for any linen type so that it can see the impact of new customers or of a new material.
Faversham Laundry will also use the Cockpit as a time clock and staff will have RFID swipe cards to log on and off to machines and workstations. It also has a full set of report functions and can feed reports to payroll and stock databases.
To ensure staff and machines are performing in line with laundry targets, all work stations will have displays to show how they are measuring against set benchmarks.
In the next stage, Jensen UK will be implementing real-time maintenance systems based upon machine requirements.

Smart concept
At its recent exhibition in Germany, Kannegiesser demonstrated how it was taking logistics a stage further by highlighting the importance of accompanying the smooth flow of work through all laundry stages with the relevant information, so that both batches and individual items can be tracked at all stages.
After manual sorting in the Supertrack EasiSort or honeycomb systems, Supertrack continues to track batches through the PowerTrans tunnel washers, PowerPress extraction and the dryers.

Software interfaces
Barcodes or chips can be used, should the laundry wish, but machines are designed with compatible software interfaces built-in so that the information flow will continue from washroom to Supertrack monorail system and to the finishing section where the Vectura stack management software tracks the folded items through to despatch.
Where work has to be transported between sections by trolley, batches will have been barcoded, and scanners and printers are installed at the relevant areas. An operator will then scan the batch and print a ticket that then goes with the batch to the ironer line. Here the information is again scanned and the line will call up the correct program for that batch, adjusting the ironer speed where necessary and selecting the right fold format.
At the end of the finishing line the stacks of folded linen are transferred to the despatch area by conveyor using the Vectura Transportation system, which again ensures that all relevant information accompanies the work..
The can be used for pool or bespoke stock. Various enhancements are available to allow information to be collated on a central database.
Kannegiesser has already installed Smart systems within mainland Europe and is discussing the concept with UK plants so systems can be implemented in the future.

DATA COLLECTOR: Jensen’s Cockpit brings information from all parts of the laundry together in one command centre. Individual screens on the laundry floor can also display progress for sector supervisors, seen here at Cabrini Linen in Australia