Volume 4, No. 3

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Now, see what’s hot at the laundry.

Ty Acton, Editor





You Said It!

“Downtime for a sudden repair or to fix a decline in product quality doesn’t exactly contribute to high efficiency and throughput. A little bit spent on maintenance now pays off a lot later.”

-- Brian Johnson, General Manager, Alsco, Denver, Col.




Corner Quotables

“What lies behind you, and what lies ahead of you, is not as important as what lies within you."
-- Author Unknown

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."
-- John Fitzgerald Kennedy

“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.”
-- Thomas Jefferson

Enjoy a favorite quote? Share it with Tingue Topics. Send it to tacton@tingue.com.

Weekend Getaway at Alsco
Excerpted from Textile Rental
By Randy Vansparrentak

When investment bankers consider a merger or acquisition, they talk about efficiency. Business 101 professors theorize about synergy. But the actual work involved in blending the strengths of two organizations, realizing efficiencies and harnessing synergies to yield bottom line returns often falls on the shoulders of real people like Brian Johnson. As general manager for Alsco in Denver, Colo., Johnson is responsible for operations at the company’s two processing facilities in the city. The Cook Street facility has been part of the company’s original plant lineup since 1970 and its production has gravitated towards a specialty in food and beverage linens such as napkins and tablecloths. The Elm Street plant was acquired with the company’s purchase of National Linen & Uniform Service in 1996 and was stocked with a tunnel washer and a slate of other hefty equipment to handle mammoth loads of medical and hotel linens such as sheets, pillow cases and towels with speed and efficiency.

But the plant was also handling 10,000 pounds per week of food and beverage linens from preexisting contracts, not quite enough to warrant investing in dedicated equipment or logistics systems, but enough to require adding a separate step in the process to manually sort incoming linens for direction to the proper production line. Johnson considered this workflow a thorn in the side of his plan to boost the efficiency of both plants. Separating their workloads by focusing on specific product lines - food and beverage in one and medical and hotel linens in the other - would speed and streamline the process, eliminate any potential for error in separation and allow workers to develop expertise in the textiles and chemistry of each product line. “We had a long term strategy in place that called for continuous improvements in production efficiency,” says Johnson. “Efficiency creates capacity without requiring investments in facilities or new equipment and that allows us the flexibility to grow as markets grow without having to incur exorbitant capital costs to meet demand.”

When Johnson’s team made an acquisition of upwards of 25,000 pounds per week of medical linens, he saw the additional volume as an opportunity to separate the workflow of his two plants and bring their operations more in line with corporate strategy. This meant equipping the Elm Street plant to specialize in medical and hotel linens and the Cook Street plant for food and beverage linens. To make room on Elm Street and accommodate the extra volume, Johnson wanted to transfer the 10,000 pounds per week of food and beverage linens to Cook Street. This would eliminate the sorting process altogether. But the transfer also required transferring the American eight roll Super Sylon ironer through which the linens were pressed.

Dismantling an ironer of this size, transporting it safely through busy city streets and then reassembling it properly was no easy task. Completing it in a single weekend without disrupting production at either plant required particular expertise. That’s when Johnson called ...

Read more »

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From the Editor

When the economy was humming along, the laundry industry was already paying close attention to cutting costs. In recent years, many of the investments in equipment were made to capture savings in energy, water, chemicals or to save on other costs. Now that the economy is humming along more quietly it may seem quite a challenge to find other ways to save.

Even if you have already implemented a wave of cost control initiatives, held staff meetings to stress the importance of cost controls and scoured your operation for cost saving opportunities, please remember the easiest place to find savings is in equipment maintenance. It’s not as glamorous as spending on new equipment that runs more efficiently than older equipment but establishing and following a routine maintenance program saves on energy costs, saves on equipment repair costs and prevents the unplanned downtime that could cripple productivity and lose a customer. And it costs almost nothing. It also boosts quality and ensures throughput will meet the high rates you used to calculate how productive your operation should be.

Call me anytime with questions or email tacton@tingue.com.

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