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During tough economic times some may think that cutting preventive maintenance is a good option.  But before taking that approach, let’s develop a good understanding of the role and function of maintenance in an organization.

The typical organization divides responsibilities into three groups: Management, Production-Operations and Maintenance.

Management possesses the business “vision” and is responsible for explaining that “vision” to the rest of the organization.

Production and operations determine in what condition to operate the equipment (factory new or to run the machines to destruction.) Production and operations determine when to schedule shut downs for overhaul and refurbishing the equipment.

Maintenance is responsible for supporting production. Core functions include: design, construct, install, maintain, modify, and modernize all equipment and physical facility assets. Another maintenance responsibility is to keep the utilities – internal or externally produced - flowing. Beyond the utilities, there is production equipment to maintain. The skill set to keep the equipment running can range from basic mechanical drives to highly technical computer networked control systems with electronic feedback.

Most repetitive equipment problems are a direct result of skill deficiencies. Twenty percent of the equipment can cause 80 percent of the problems. The true cost of these recurring equipment problems to organizations can be staggering.

Training can overcome skill deficiencies. When some ask, “What if we train them and they leave?” I ask, “What if you don’t and they stay?” Training also helps identify which failures are caused by equipment design, equipment condition, poor operating practices, poor maintenance practices or lack of training.

An indication of management’s commitment to improvement and employee development with “pay now or pay later” consequences is the annual number of training days per maintenance craftsperson that aren’t mandatory or regulatory.

Successful maintenance Work Management uses the six P’s: Prior Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

Keys to effective work and labor management include, key performance indicators, a weekly plan, a daily schedule, work orders and written procedures.

Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are gathered facts that give us ‘useful’ information regarding the condition of the business. You can’t manage what you don’t measure, so whether you generate daily, weekly, or monthly reports, you need a sense of the past and present, to be able to plan for the future.

A KPI on maintenance labor and work management is a visit to the maintenance shop Monday morning. Is the worktable clean? Are the tools put away? Is the floor swept? The overall condition of the plant and the machinery is generally in similar condition. Answering ‘no’, to the above, may indicate that there is ‘no’ weekly plan. ‘No’ list of priorities to work on (joint maintenance and production list). The daily schedule is reactive maintenance. (visit our web site at …for a list of measureable KPIs)

Work orders allow prioritizing and scheduling. In maintenance, work orders can track equipment history and should include: equipment ID, date, time, and downtime. Some questions to ask would be: What component failed? Cause of failure? Was problem resolved? Could failure have been prevented?

Written procedures describe the best way to perform a task. Written procedures can be used at the machine level to describe how to perform specific tasks and how to operate the machinery.

Maintenance tasks fit into three general categories: Reactive, Preventive, and Predictive. The main question is whether maintenance is planned or unplanned. Unplanned maintenance is the most expensive type of maintenance and upsets production.

Reactive Maintenance can be described as breakdown or emergency corrective. There is a problem with quality, production has slowed, or stopped.

Preventive Maintenance is time based and performs tasks on a scheduled basis (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually) to “prevent” reactive maintenance. Preventive maintenance looks for warning signs of condition changes.

Unfortunately most failures are not time based. So, instead of time based tasks, Predictive Maintenance performs “needed” maintenance based on the “condition” of the equipment and process. Predictive  Maintenance analyzes which PM time based tasks are actually “needed” and what is the correct maintenance interval for each situation. They often find that 20% or more of time based tasks are ineffective, wasteful, and can introduce more problems than they prevent.

As an example, Oil analysis “smells” and “tastes” lubricant condition to schedule when replacement is “needed” and can analyze particles for internal parts wear. One case in point is a hydraulic press in a tunnel system that requires 65 gallons of oil for system replacement. The equipment manufacturer recommends changing on an annual basis. Oil analysis may reveal that three years is a suitable replacement interval.

The return on investment in savings and increased reliability from a proactive rather than reactive maintenance approach has been proven time and time again. Whether you are a commercial industrial laundry or an on-premise laundry (OPL), a PM program can keep equipment running efficiently and thereby reduce unnecessary utilities and costs.

The time spent on planned versus unplanned maintenance is a key indicator of “pay now or pay later”. We can continue to run the machines to failure and keep expecting a different result. Or we can view maintenance and reliability as a process that requires attention to detail and continual improvement of the process.

Maintenance is an investment in an organization’s ability to produce a product or service. It can be thought of as an on-premise risk management and insurance provider for keeping the “vision” alive and well.

   Randy StiverRandy Stiver has over 25 years of experience in the Industrial Laundry Industry. For 18 of these years, Randy worked for Pellerin Milnor Corp. in Customer Service, Field Engineering, and Training and Education. He is currently the Technical Director and one of the principals of ASTAR LLC. a Service, Training, and Reliability Company where he is responsible for system optimization, training, and equipment reliability 

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Ecolab Receives Environmental Stewardship Award

AUSTRIA - An environmental stewardship award was recently given to Ecolab Inc. in Austria in recognition of the their efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of a local hospital laundry. The award is for implementing their PERformance SMART low-temperature at an Austrian hospital. The laundry program is said to reduce water and energy usage, in addition to shortening wash time.