Think industrial strength laundering for a minute. What comes to mind?
Is it a product in an industrial-sized container, perhaps? Or an oversized commercial washing machine? You may even have in mind an expansive plant facility, overburdened with dirty laundry being shuffled from place to place by people, not all that different from an automotive plant of 50 years ago.
When a customer takes a plant tour at Miller’s Textile Services in Wapakoneta, the reality often comes as a surprise and to some, a shock.
“It’s always interesting to gauge people’s reactions,” says Millers’ plant manager Joe Ayers. “We get to show them the magnitude of what we’re doing. We’ve invested a lot in the latest technology and it shows.”
Before Your Laundry Goes Home, It Goes Big.
What customers typically see is limited to what arrives freshly wrapped on the Miller’s Route Account Managers’ truck. But the operation that goes on within the walls of a facility that cleans and sanitizes laundry for thousands of customers in four states on a weekly basis takes a bit of imagination.
There’s nothing small time about the Miller’s plant which currently launders, sorts, inspects, folds and delivers close to a half million pounds of textile products each week. Soiled laundry enters this automated production facility directly from the delivery trucks.
The heart of the conveyer technology is dual overhead rail systems, one for soiled product and one for clean product, which are always segregated in different parts of the plant to avoid any chance of cross-contamination. The soiled product rail is capable of carrying 140 bags, each of which holds between 200 and 400 pounds of textiles.
There are two washroom floors for further separation of product classification. One of these features nine automated washing machines capable of 450 pounds of textiles at a time. The other has seven 450 pound machines. After being sanitized, laundered products are routed to ironing and dry folding.
It’s Takes High Tech To Be High-Clean.
Importantly, the Miller Textile Services facility is clean as well as certified by TRSA as hygienically clean; designations with highly specific meaning, especially for the healthcare industry. Running a facility to these exacting standards takes not merely special attentiveness to ideas like segregation of soiled products form clean, santized laundry, but also takes employees dedicated to learning smart practices and operating sophisticated automated equipment.
“Smart labor is key,” says Ayers, “We’re fortunate to have employees who understand that they’re not just numbers, but perform an essential role in the whole operation.”
Another unseen aspect of running a high tech industrial cleaning operation involves airflow. To eliminate the possibility of cross contamination and to conform to specifications needed to meet our certification requirements and the exacting guidelines for an accredited clean facility, negative airflow cannot be compromised. In other words, even airflow within the plant must be maintained at all times from the “clean” section of the plant to the “soiled” section and from there to the plant’s exterior.
Quality Control Isn’t Just A Process. It’s A Passion.
Difficult though it may be to imagine, all products are quality control inspected as they makes the journey through the automated process of the facility. Uniforms and linens are inspected and must meet the pre-established quality standards and exacting measures. Linens also go through the same rigid quality inspections.
To witness the entire process in action is to appreciate both the technology and the dedication it takes to bring soiled and unsorted laundry in one side of the facility and see it transformed into certified cleanproduct ready for use by the customer.
“I think it’s a great idea for any customer to see our operation,” says Ayers. “Then it really hits home how Millers’ ownership has reinvested in continuous improvement in processes that make a better product for the customer. We have the professionalism and the processes in place to demonstrate why their trust in us is not misplaced.”