- Created on Thursday, 03 July 2003 03:53
- Written by Jim Adler
One way you can respond to customer demand is by implementing software and hardware systems to track linen through the cycle from customer to laundry and back to customer. The benefits of good tracking are better use of linen inventory; more accurate anticipation of customers’ needs, and improved communication between you and your customers.Your customers should already have the ability to create reports, place orders, and send usage information to the laundry. And now they want even more functions and features: emailing reports on demand, adjusting par levels, communicating with handhelds PDA’s inside and outside facilities, and the ability to do all this on multiple workstations both within and outside their facilities.
The more complex the system is, the more potential there is for trouble; and when there’s trouble, the blame almost always falls first on you, the laundry. So, is there a “magic bullet” a simple solution that will make linen tracking run smoothly always and everywhere? Finally, the answer is: Yes.
The largest single cause of failure is the operating environment. Once you give software to your customer, control is lost over what kind of machine it’s running on and how it’s configured; what operating system they use (version, release, patches); what other, potentially conflicting, software the machine is running; the network configuration and a host of other issues.
And, with today’s more feature-filled systems, environmental problems grow even more daunting. For instance, imagine you want to network multiple PC’s inside a hospital to provide real-time usage data, ordering capabilities and email reports. This requires that software be installed on the hospital server and that you get what amounts to ‘the key’ to the hospital firewall - their network security. Have you asked a hospital network administrator for these privileges lately? With patient records, privacy issues and network stability at stake, suffice it to say that the response is usually a bit chilly.
With Web-enabled linen tracking software, one simple change eliminates all environmental issues. The ‘magic bullet’ is the World Wide Web - the Internet.
Instead of giving your customer a CD and an installation manual, you give them a Web address and a password. Instead of installing software on machines all over your service area, there’s just a single installation. Instead of limitations, you allow more features and convenience, easier operation, and happier customers.
With web-enabled linen tracking in place, the software and all data reside on servers at a single location. The servers can be physically located at your location or at your software vendor’s. Both you and customer have instant access to information, and anyone with proper security credentials can see that information from any computer or PDA (wired or wireless) with Internet access.
You can also use this new connection to strengthen your brands with customers by linking access to the program through your own Web site. Your customers are then seeing your logo, special offers, news items, or other information every time they log into the system.
Other benefits include instant software updates (no CD’s to distribute) to add new benefits, automatic backup, and a host of other features.
The complexity hasn’t disappeared. You’ve just moved it from the customer’s site, where you have no control, to a site where you and your software vendor have total control. Keeping software with these kinds of features running is not simple, but it’s significantly easier to do in a single location with a single configuration than in dozens or hundreds of locations spread around the world. For instance, at our hosting site, we monitor everything from temperature to power supplies to security 24/7, get pager alerts if issues arise, and can respond immediately to any problem.
With fewer software/hardware conflicts, every aspect of your linen tracking service runs smoother. The results: happier customers and more efficient use of inventory.
Are you providing the best service to your customers? If you’re not sure, you better watch out for your competition and look into Web-based linen tracking solutions.
Jim Adler is Managing Director of Computer Software Architects, providers of linen tracking solutions.
Quick Rinse - News From Around The World
Commercial Laundry Cited by OSHA
ELM GROVE, W. Va. — Uwanta Linen Supply, a commercial laundry, was recently cited for 21 health and safety violations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The laundry faces $62,400 in penalties for the violations. Eighteen of the the 21 violations are considered serious by OSHA. The serious violations include failing to properly guard floor holes and failing to provide hepatitis B vaccines to workers who are potentially exposed to blood borne pathogens.