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19 Aug

Is your laundry ergonomically friendly?


As laundry operators today, we are very mindful of several key factors: keeping our labor costs in check, improving our production flow and of course keeping our workforce safe and happy.  Several key important lessons taught to me growing up in the textile and laundry business from both my father and father-in-law was; If you want to maximize the effort from your workforce while getting the best from them on a consistent basis, always look for ways to improve their working conditions and make their jobs more effortless while increasing their production. Treat your employees like they are family because they are the ones who are making sure a quality product is delivered on time on a consistent basis.  Beware of those two nasty words that can bring you and your workforce down in a heartbeat:  workmen’s compensation. Always be aware of new technology that can aid in removing these two nasty words from our laundries.

Being a vendor at Clean, in the mornings prior to the doors opening to the masses, I was able to walk the empty halls at Clean and look at innovative equipment at my own pace. While walking, eerily at times, it was like I could hear some of the equipment talking to each other across the aisles as they prepared themselves to showcase their abilities to make the once tedious, non-ergonomic duties performed by our loyal employees more productive and less strenuous. Most of these conversations started as, “Remember when……..”   For instance, as I walked past one booth I noticed robotics untangling sheets from a huge bundle now making it easier for the operator to feed them into the flat work ironer while increasing pieces per operator hour. That once backbreaking task was a job that once required several operators to pull and tug the sheets apart for the feeders in from of the irons.

Across the aisle was an automatic lift raising slings of product up into the air and moving them with ease across the floor, replacing a once tedious task done by our employees on a daily basis. As I continued on my way, I entered a booth where I witnessed product coming out of a tunnel and dumped onto a conveyor shuttling it directly into the dryer. Again, another backbreaking job removed. My morning walk ended passing thru a booth touting a rail system equipped with scanners to read bar codes on garments and separate them accordingly and another to scan RFID and again separate garments. It was like poetry in motion.

These were just a few of the ergonomically pieces of equipment I saw and I only made it thru three aisles. There was much more to see and I could not wait to walk these same aisles again later that day to see this equipment in action. While walking back to my booth in anticipation to start the show for the day, I thought of how much the new machinery and technology has impacted our laundries.  How they have reduced labor while more importantly becoming ergonomically friendly to our valued employees, the foundation of our business.  

When I finally returned to our booth, one of my co-workers asked me if I saw anything interesting during my walk.  I turned and smiled and replied, “Remember when……..”

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