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“Does Anyone Really Care?”

The trouble with utilization, development and management of textile care (laundry operations, linen distribution etc.) quality and excellence standards usually starts with the term, “it depends.” When someone is trying to determine the best laundry process, or the best laundry system (equipment), experts and most consultants in the textile care industry will tell you -- it depends on a troublesome number of factors. Those factors include: when you are going to use the process or a particular type of equipment, what textile item are you trying to process, how often you expect to not to be able to make your customers satisfied, how often supplies are not going to be purchased or delivered on time, etc.

The best process or system could be one of a dozen different processing techniques or items of equipment. There is really no BEST; the best or closest you can get to best under a different set of circumstances, in a particular environment is only within certain perimeters. After arguing about the relative merits of different types of laundry equipment, ultimately, a different type of equipment with different merits will become available in our ever changing industry.

There is no doubt in today’s textile care arena that you must spend money not only to save money, but also to maintain a satisfactory level of quality. One will always wonder how uncomfortable the idea of “best” is. We know it has something to do with “quality” and “excellence,” but what do these words mean in a world where they appear in every mission statement on the planet?

The more you think about the idea of quality, the more you realize how elusive this term can be. Most managers usually fail trying to determine a definition of quality. This is easy to calculate and fun to watch…I’ve done it for many years. Quality and excellence are quite simply like truth and beauty, they are only philosophical terms that can be attached to terms like precision, intelligence, accuracy, power and finally efficiency… In other words you cannot nail down the definition.

It is like the notion that a laundry should have a physical barrier between soiled and clean processing. While the design may promulgate a good work flow, it does not necessarily increase or decrease the risk of disease to workers or other customers. There is just no evidence supporting that, even though the notion continues, like the old theory that you must wash hospital/health care laundry in high temperature water. That theory continues even though studies have been conducted that contradict this old practice. Some states continue the requirement based on the theory that the world is flat, I suppose.

Many folks are probably saying, “Bull,” indicating that quality and excellence are self evident. Well, let’s see. Most people would consider a top of the line Jag to be superior to a top of the line General Motors car. This is obvious, look at the price…you pay for what you get…RIGHT? Not really, especially if your criteria are gas mileage, repair cost, park ability, and how the car handles in inclement weather etc. etc. So which is really better? The dilemma rages on.

The truth hurts, especially in our industry. Words like quality and excellence have been so overused they mean almost nothing anymore. Decades of abuse by government and corporate wits, want to be managers and marketing pirates have drained the power from these terms like a battery going dead on your cell phone.

The challenge for every manager no matter if you manufacture laundry systems, design laundry systems, sell laundry systems or operate a laundry, is doing what you do best in a world where most everything is designed to prevent quality and excellence from actually happening. No matter how devoted or smart you are, the forces of work and life-family, time, money, sickness, will always get in the way of quality and excellence. Each day we think, most of the time, that we can over achieve and meet the mark, but then the forces of life take over, send you back to bed tired, disgusted and just short of the mark.

Despite all of this, our industry continues to keep cranking out innovative products. Look past your own operation, did you know that products are available to reduce your FTE ( your largest cost) by considerable margins, just in finishing and did you know that there are products available that can permit your employees to move carts with one finger? Think of the savings on job injuries and associated costs, not to mention increased morale. Producing something close to quality in our own mind, always defying mediocrity, making it possible for our industry, companies, organizations to hand out awards to those we think deserve them, gives meaning to what we do, day by day, year by year.

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Nursing Home Fire

GAINESVILLE, Ga. — Flames that began in a nursing home laundry dryer drew firefighters to the location. The fire was contained to the laundry room of the New Horizons Nursing Home and residents were not evacuated.