Internal logistics: the core quality behind successful laundries
Realising a sustainably profitable laundry service demands nothing less than a paradigm shift. A fundamentally different perspective on laundries. So says Maarten Ploeg, director of system integrator WSP. “In the world of today and tomorrow, a laundry service cannot score using only machine or human resources. The critical factor for success is internal logistics. The ultimate laundry is a logistical marvel.”
It seems obvious: optimise production by removing bottlenecks from the process. But what are those bottlenecks?
When WSP began designing laundries in the nineties, there was a strong emphasis on machine performance. “It may be a characteristic of the industry”, says Ploeg. “Impressive machine specifications are still popular. As a result, manufacturer developments have proceeded at a rapid pace. However, when we analyse the performance of many laundry services annually, what we actually find is that machine or human performance is the bottleneck. Rather, occasionally dozens (!) of percentages in productivity disappear in the area between people and machine. Internal logistics is the performance area for the high-productivity laundry service of the future.”
Logistics first, machines second
The paradigm that Ploeg feels is necessary and ongoing is that of moving from machine-focus to chain-focus. “It is a shift that has an effect on the approach of a new-build or a laundry expansion. You do not start by drawing in machines that you connect together, to transport systems, and to production planning. No, we are saying: first design a logistical blueprint for your laundry. Consider the intended flow between incoming dirty and outgoing clean laundry. Develop a method for planning and relaying different quantities of laundry. Consider how to transform peaks or variations in incoming dirty laundry into an efficient production flow. Without machine delays, queues on the left, and standstills on the right. Only then should you focus on your intended machines’ capacities.”
The issue of integration
The laundry of the future excels in internal logistics and chain-focus. This calls for more than a new perspective on laundry services; it also calls for different technology. Not just in terms of steel, such as smart bag rail or buffer systems specially developed by WSP, but also in terms of ones and zeroes. Software. “The basic principle underlying chain-focus is integral planning. Planning as a system. This presents its own issues of integration”, Ploeg concludes.
The smart brain
“How do you get machines by different manufacturers and of different ages to ‘talk’ to each other? How do you make use of information from different systems in your logistical control? We have developed an easy-to-implement solution to that end (WinWash, ed.). Using this operating system is like equipping your laundry with a smart brain which takes planning and logistical decisions in real time, while taking into account dozens of variables. Unparalleled!” Ploeg can list numerous laundry services who have experienced the benefits in real life. “Those who want to see the WinWash brain make chain-focus a practical reality at a fellow laundry service are very welcome to come and visit!”