Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Garment Labeling Made Easy!

Garment Labeling - Technology Changes

If you are the owner or manager of a Long Term Care Facility you know how much time is spent by your staff washing, drying and sorting the residents personal clothing. Many facilities find this process time consuming and a definite added labour expense. Even in this day and age where technology has provided cost savings in many other areas of Care facility management the basic problem of proper clothing identification is still problematic. Housekeeping and Laundry staff are burdened by the ever increasing number of personal clothing items that need to be labeled. Many facilities are still using antiquated methods to label personal clothing.

Old Technology

1. Q-tape (iron on fabric tape) usually purchased by the roll and is general manually marked with an indelible marker with the residents name and room number, cut from the roll and then heat pressed onto the clothing with an iron or commercial heat press. This method has been used in the industry for more than 50 years and by today's standard is considered non-cost effective for the following reasons;
      • Increases Labour costs to manual mark, cut and apply and re-apply.
      • Q-Tape is not designed for extensive commercial laundering
      • Labels are rough and can irritate sensitive skin
      • Marker ink fades quickly and becomes unreadable
      • Labels detach from clothing after multiple laundering
      • Lost or Missing Personal Clothing.
2. Indelible Laundry Pens are another old method of marking personal clothing. This method usually results in the resident's disapproval as sometimes the marker ink transfers onto the clothing before, during or after laundering. Family members are generally disappointed finding their loved ones clothing marked in such an unprofessional manner. To recap the reason for NOT using this method are as follows;
      • Damage to resident clothing from ink transfer.
      • Unprofessional appearance
      • High labour costs for manually marking items
      • Names can be smeared and be unreadable.
      • Family members and resident complaints.

3. Dot Matrix Labeling Systems became popular in the late 1970's and have persisted in the laundry industry until today. The system utilizes die-cut perforated fabric labels (usually 5/8"W x 2.5"'L) set in tractor feed rolls. The labels are coated on one side with a high temperature heat activated glue and the labels themselves are made of a heavy nylon fabric that can become brittle and rigid through successive laundering. This rigidity can cause chaffing and skin irritation when worn against sensitive skin. The Dot Matrix printers require special indelible ink ribbons that need to be replaced often. The ink printing quality of these printers is low and the printing can be difficult to read even after just a few launderings. The high temperatures (usually 390-425 deg. F) and extended heat press time (10-13 seconds) can cause problems both for staff safety, efficiency and the possibility of heat damaging resident clothing. In order to use this system you will require a large and expensive dot matrix printer and a full Windows based computer system to run the software to print the labels. The foot print of this system is quite large and with restricted space in most Care facility laundries this can present a problem. Here is the recap for this system;

      • Utilizes out-of-date technology.
      • Replacement parts are hard to find.
      • Expensive to purchase.
      • Poor Print quality and fades in Laundry.
      • Requires a desktop computer to operate.
      • Large foot print in the laundry area.
      • Software is not included in the system.

Garment Labeling Made Easy! - New Technology

4. All-in-One Garment Label Systems were developed in the last 10 years to provide a cost effective, professional clothing labeling solution for Laundries, Care Facilities, Hotels, Camps, and other commercial operations requiring garment identification. The system was designed to reduce labour costs, improve label print quality, durability and efficiency. The All-in-One printer concept incorporates all the necessary components for printing high quality labels in one small hand held or desktop unit. The printer uses a convenient cartridge system with a soft, hypo-allergenic nylon tape and includes an indelible resin ink ribbon (for crystal clear printing) that is incorporated into the cartridge. The cartridges are small and convenient and are designed for commercial use. The fabric tape is coated with a low-temperature-melt super-adhesive that works in conjunction with a commercial heat press to provide a maximum bond that will withstand up to 500 commercial laundry cycles. The hand-held version of the All-in-One Label System has a self contained QWERTY keyboard and will print and automatically cut garment labels, tube labels, adhesive pressure labels and more. If you require bar codes, names or graphics this printer has it all.

      • Inexpensive to purchase - under $300
      • All-in-One Design with built-in Keyboard
      • No messy ink ribbons.
      • Crystal clear text and bar codes.
      • Portable; works on A/C or Batteries.
      • Easy drop in Tape Cartridge with 26 feet of Tape.
      • Built-in automatic cutter.
      • 99 memory locations.
      • Lowest cost per label in the industry

Monday, December 5, 2016

How to get the most out of your linen.

After nearly 30 years in the institutional linen business I have experienced nearly every conceivable problem a facility can run into with regards to their linen supply. If your facility is genuinely interested in saving hundreds if not thousands of dollars per year on linen replacement costs, I will provide you some helpful, cost saving tips in this series of blog posts. For more information about our products visit

Tip #1
Cheaper linen is not always the answer. It has been my experience as a linen buyer and seller that cheap doesn't exactly mean cheaper. In most cases I have found that with cheap linen, as with most cheap things, it just doesn't stand up as well as quality made products.  
Case in point: A large institutional laundry account I serviced wanted to purchase 22x44" White bath towels. I quoted on two different quality products. The cheap one at $1.40 each and the better quality one at $2.10 each. The customer had been using a 22x44" towel that was priced at $1.50 each but found he was only getting 35 washing/drying cycles out of them before they had to be removed from service. $1.50 / 35 = .042 per use. I mentioned to him that our better quality towel had regularly provided customers with a minimum of 55 washing/drying cycles. I pointed out that these towels would provide a lower cost per use than the cheap towels. $2.10 / 55 = .038 per use. He agreed with my methodology and decided to purchase the better quality towel. Not only did he save on a cost per use basis, he also got a pleasant surprise after using the towels for a few months. One end user of the product told him how much she enjoyed using a better quality bath towel and how much softer they were on her skin.

This is a great example of how choosing the right product can not only save your facility money, it can also make you look much better in the eyes of "your customers".

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Higher linen Inventory levels can reduce costs

You might ask; how can spending more of my budget on linen inventory help reduce my overall linen costs?  Many Health Care and Hotel facilities who provide laundry processing of their own linen,  make the common mistake of not having an adequate inventory level ( or par level as it is referred to in the industry) to maximize the number of cycles their linen can sustain. In large commercial laundries that rent or deliver linen to off-site premises, the correct "Par Level" of inventory is critical to their bottom line. Too much inventory or too little inventory can have extreme affects on their profitability. How does this work? you might ask.

Tip #2
Most linen used in Health Care or Hospitality facilities is made with blended polyester and cotton yarns. The blends can vary from item to item, and in some cases, like terry towels,  they would be made with 100% cotton yarns. To understand blends and yarns better, one only has to take a look in the lint tray on their dryers after a load of 100% cotton towels has been dried. Compared with say, a load of sheets, you would find a substantially greater amount of lint from the towels compared to the sheets. This lint is what eventual becomes of most linen products. Once enough of the yarn fibers have fallen out as lint, the linen items are deemed as too thin and are discarded or used as rags. It only makes sense that the more excessive the linting, the lower the life expectancy of the linen item will be.

What causes excessive linting? There can be a number of causes for excessive linting; (see a few common causes listed below)
1. Poor quality Yarns: Many inexpensive sheets and towels use coarser, short length yarns. This type of yarn will tend to lint more than finer, longer yarn fibers.
2. Mechanical Action and Chemicals: Over processing your linen can also cause excessive linting. The use of chemical surfactants and bleaches can reduce the life span of your linen.
3. Low Inventory Levels: If your inventory level of linen is too low it can result in over processing the inventory you have. If you are washing and drying the same linen everyday this will result in excessive linting and reduce the linen life expectancy greatly.

To get the most from your linen and reduce your total linen costs you will have to look at your linen in a different way. Think of your linen products as your team and the cotton fibers as your star players. Both your team and your Star players require rest to preform at the top of their game. In order to maximize your linen's performance, you will need to create a "Par Level" (inventory level) that allows each of your linen items to rest for a 24 hour period before being placed back into service. The basic minimum "Par Level" a facility processing their own linen should maintain is a "3 Par Level". This level will allow you to have 1 set of inventory resting on the shelf, 1 set of inventory in service and 1 set of inventory in the laundry processing. An extra par level can be beneficial, however, even working with the minimum will result in cost savings for your facility.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Health Care Facilities - Start-up Requirements

In this day and age each facility Manager generally wears any number of hats and their time is always at a premium. Especially Managers that are given the task of procuring the supplies to facilitate a new start up facility. I have been very fortunate to be involved in supplying linen and laundry related products to many new start up facilities in the past 25 years. It has been my experience that working closely with the project purchasing manager well in advance of the buildings completion has provided the best formula for success. When a new facility opens its doors to potential new residents (clients) it is very important that the facility has the necessary supplies, staff and procedures in place to reflect a professional appearance and attract these new clients.
If the purchasing manager has a relationship of trust and gets strong support from his/her's suppliers, this can translate into opportunities for the supplier to work as a consultant in the purchasing process. After all, most suppliers have a wealth of knowledge in their field of expertise and are more than willing to go the "Extra Mile" to provide top notch customer service. In Purchasing terms they would call this "consultative value added service". Although it is prudent for Purchasers to seek out competitive pricing on goods and services required for these start up projects, it is also important to attach value to those trusted suppliers that offer tangible, value added service to the process. This type of valued service can save Project Managers both time and money when it comes to start up procurements.