NEW ORLEANS — Covering a broad topic for drycleaners with a range of capabilities, the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute’s (DLI) first educational session of Clean ’09 offered a primer on plant automation featuring four manufacturer representatives and comments from current users.
Spot Business Systems’ Mark Jones started off the session, discussing computer integration and the ways heat-sealed labels and bar codes can streamline plant processes. The change in workflows brings consistency to pricing and speeds mark-in, he said, and the full garment histories that result from permanent labeling can even help drycleaners determine whether or not to pay a claim.
“We had a few issues with the set-up, but they were minor compared to what they can do,” said Gary Maloney, who uses heat-sealed labels. “It’s more than a tagging system to us — it’s a management system.”
Bill Kahan, regional sales manager for Unipress, discussed tensioning finishing equipment, briefly outlining the differences between basic and full-feature models of automated toppers and forms.
Asked who had tensioning equipment, about half of the more than 120 attendees raised their hands. “Those of you who don’t have tensioning equipment really need to look into this technology,” said Gary Dawson, operator of Florida’s Bellaire Bluffs Cleaners. “About 95% of suitcoats, you don’t have to touch. I don’t regret spending the money.”
Metalprogetti’s Frank Dubasik concentrated on automated assembly and bagging, highlighting the progression from order assembly to piece assembly to “one-touch” assembly. Estimating assembly and bagging costs at 6% to 8% of gross, he said, a plant with $1 million in annual receipts and four employees in assembly can cut three of them with a piece-assembly or one-touch system, saving more than $50,000 per year above the conveyors’ costs.
Last, Mike Eggers, area sales manager for Sankosha Inc., notes that an automatic bagging machine can save on poly, slash labor costs and more. “They show up every day,” he said. “That, in itself, is worth making the change.”