CHICAGO — Summer is heating up, and the added heat produced by dry cleaning processes can lead to employee fatigue and increased human error. So how do dry cleaners combat the heat? That was the basis for this month’s AmericanDrycleaner.com Wire survey.
Direct or indirect cooling devices are popular tools for making dry cleaning production more tolerable during the dog days of summer. Portable fans are the most popular choice (cleaners could choose any or all of six types, or indicate they don’t use cooling equipment), utilized by 57.1% of respondents. Running a close second, at 47.6%, is swamp coolers.
Other cooling equipment utilized includes spot cooling systems (23.8%), air conditioning (14.3%), portable evaporative coolers (4.8%), and “other” (4.8%). The “other” category included exhaust fans.
Only 4.8% of respondents say they don’t use these cooling devices in their plants.
It seems cleaners are pretty well set for cooling equipment, with 73.7% reporting they don’t plan to add any in the year ahead. Those planning to add equipment are in the market for portable fans (15.8%), “other” devices (10.5%) and/or spot cooling systems (5.3%).
Adjusting work to start earlier in the day and rotating workers to different stations is another way that cleaners try to keep employees comfortable and productive. Approximately 52% utilize this strategy, while 47.6% do not.
“When hot days are coming, we stay late before the heat wave starts and come in early during the heat wave to hopefully get as much done in tolerable conditions,” a cleaner explains. “Sometimes, the heat is just unavoidable, though. I also go on daily run to pick up multiple cases of Gatorade when the weather is 95 and above.”
Another cleaner who has seen his/her area experience 100-plus temperatures for five straight days gets work started at 4 a.m. instead of the normal 5 a.m.
Two-thirds of cleaners who were polled believe their investment in cooling equipment has paid off in terms of employee morale and productivity. Roughly 5% say they don’t believe their investment has paid off, and 28.6% are unsure.
While the Wire survey presents a snapshot of readers’ viewpoints at a particular moment, it should not be considered scientific.
Subscribers to Wire e-mails—distributed twice weekly—are invited to take a brief industry survey anonymously online each month. All dry cleaners are encouraged to participate, as a greater number of responses will help to better define opinions and industry trends.
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