RENZACCI UK HELPS TRANSFORM TWO BUSINESSES WITH METALPROGETTI CONVEYORS

METALPROGETTIConveyors are probably the most dynamic part of the drycleaning and laundry equipment industry at the present time. That is perhaps because businesses are beginning to realise that they are not just ‘nice to have’, but that they contribute significantly to the efficiency and profitability of the business besides enabling as well a dramatic reduction in labour requirements as a direct result of their installation.

Conveyors are probably the most dynamic part of the drycleaning and laundry equipment industry at the present time. That is perhaps because businesses are beginning to realise that they are not just ‘nice to have’, but that they contribute significantly to the efficiency and profitability of the business besides enabling as well a dramatic reduction in labour requirements as a direct result of their installation.

Metalprogetti is renowned worldwide for its patented conveyor systems across many markets. Its level of innovation, product quality and range of solutions is second to none. Just over a year ago, executives from Renzacci UK visited the headquarters of Metalprogetti in Perugia, central Italy. They came away with the sole UK distribution rights for the sales and service of Metalprogetti automated conveyor systems to the laundry and drycleaning industry in the UK. The exclusivity agreement covers equipment for sorting and order picking of garments, 24-hour drop-off and collection, uniform dispensing and locker room systems.

With over 200 installations under its belt, Renzacci UK plc is already one of the most experienced conveyor installers in the UK. Says managing director, Jason Alexander: “On the continent, conveyors are much more popular than over here. Operators there can see beyond the capital outlay to the potential returns. Conveyors are not just pretty, modern and impressive – although, of course, they are all those things. They can streamline a business so that considerable tangible savings can be made, reflecting in vastly increased profits for the business. We are beginning to see payback periods of less than one year. Such a return is unheard of in our industry. As for Metalprogetti, we are already proud to be the largest installer of conveyor systems in the UK, but such is the quality and versatility of their systems, we anticipate that this will become a major part of our business over the next year or two.”

Aside from the obvious quality and the experience Metalprogetti has with regard to automated garment handling systems, it is worth noting that no other system in the world can offer a completely integrated system – from loading the hanging garment onto the order assembly system, to the automatic bagging, to the completed order storage system and so to dispatch. In essence, a garment does not need to have any human intervention from the moment the garment has passed quality control to the moment it is loaded as part of a complete order onto a delivery van or dispatch rail. This is unique.

In the first year of its association with Metalprogetti, Renzacci UK has installed a record number of conveyors and automated self-service drop-off and collection units. Two of the largest systems have, coincidentally been installed within three months and within a short walk of each other.

RENZACCI UK’S EXPERTISE

Metalprogetti conveyors are distributed by Renzacci UK, which has over 40 years’ experience of the laundry and drycleaning trades in the UK. That experience is crucial in advising on how a conveyor system can be used, the workflow and layout of the unit. Says Andy Lambert: “We prepare CAD drawings for all our installations and they are essential for conveyors. It is one thing planning two dimensionally, but these conveyors are quite intricate and we need to take that into consideration. A case in point was the installation at Kensington Drycleaners, where we had to build the construction to accommodate some low beams.”

What is very important, is that the system, using the EPoS which can be supplied by any of three Metalprogetti accredited EPoS suppliers (Drystream, SPOT and LM Computers TouchTill) can be adapted to cater for pretty much anything that the client requires - for example, how items are bagged; how items are collated; whether to use RFID or barcoding; how the deliveries are offloaded – by shop or in delivery route order for domestic customers.

However, permanent barcoding is proving to be the most popular method of identification currently. With this method, a further benefit is that the drycleaner also has a full history of how many times an individual item has been cleaned by our client, and when. Should a claim arise for an item, a drycleaner then has the ammunition to counter any false or fraudulent claims.

Once installed, Renzacci UK is on hand to maintain the system. Some problems can be solved by telephone and the system benefits from lifetime telephone technical support. Should a call out be necessary, the company offers 24 hour 365 days a year service back-up.

Finally, Renzacci UK is able to help finance the installation by arranging lease finance over a flexible term. Says Lambert: “Metalprogetti is the most substantial of all the conveyor systems we have ever installed. That means they are not cheap – but with so much riding on them, literally, nor would you want them to be! However, as our two clients in Acton have discovered, they do pay for themselves very quickly. We are a licensed credit broker and can arrange some reliable and flexible sources of finance. By using lease finance rather than paying for the system out of capital reserves, clients can be sure of a positive cash flow from day one.”

 WHITE ROSE LAUNDRIES

First in the area to experience the benefits of the Metalprogetti conveyor system was White Rose Laundries. The business is owned and run by Ejaz Osmani, who took over the reins from his father, the company founder, in 1972. Built initially to serve London’s top hotels, clinics, law firms and financial institutions, it now also has three retail shops and numerous collection/ delivery routes. It is their proud boast that the average trading relationship with existing clientele is over 15 years. With his system fully operational since December 2012, Osmani is delighted with the savings the new system has brought and the efficiencies he is seeing in the business. This is indeed a busy unit with up to 4,000 pieces daily and much of the recent improvements in productivity can be traced back to the conveyor system.

Once the garments have been drycleaned and finished, the presser loads the hanging garment onto a screw conveyor which then moves it to its first stop at quality control, where an operative approves or rejects the garment at this stage. If it passes QC checks, the operative scans the barcode on the garment and pops it onto any spare slot on the order assembly conveyor. The computer automatically recognises the garment from the barcode and allocates the slot number on the conveyor to the piece. Here the garment is ‘parked’ until the remaining items of the order are completed and hung on the order assembly conveyor.

Once the order is complete, it is automatically moved to one of five offloading arms – four are for general orders which will immediately be taken away to be bagged, and the remaining offloading arm is for what Osmani calls ‘specials’ – garments that clients are particular about or require special attention in the packing or collation areas. The completed orders are then moved towards the automated bagging area, which is capable of handling up to an impressive 600 garments per hour. It even automatically labels the pieced up order with a discrete barcode for identification. The system also calculates the most efficient way of bagging up an order to minimise polythene consumption or it can even be programmed to bag items individually for a particular client or to only bag items of a certain type together. Such is the flexibility of the system.

Six months on, Osmani is very pleased with the smooth running of the operation: “In particular, ‘piecing up’ as everyone in the trade knows is a labour intensive task.” he says. “It is also an area rife for errors. If a mistake is going to be made, chances are it will happen here. With the new Metalprogetti system, that part is now fully automated, so mistakes are totally eradicated. I think it is fair to say that the system has reduced our labour costs considerably and payback will be achieved many months ahead of our initial forecast.”

KENSINGTON DRYCLEANERS

Just down the road from White Rose is Kensington Drycleaners. It was founded in 2003 by Nathan Kumar. New to the industry, he enlisted the help and experience of colleague, David Perez, who has been in the drycleaning trade for over 40 years. Together the pair has grown the business, which now boasts a central processing unit feeding five retail shops. The business also offers a thriving collection and delivery service.

Renzacci UK installed a comprehensive Metalprogetti conveyor system in January. Similar in many ways to the White Rose system, the challenge for Renzacci UK was to fit the Metalprogetti system into the unit, which is very small - less than 3,600 ft2 and already crammed full of machinery. Jason and Andrew Lambert started the project with a detailed site visit, analysing the factory layout and listening to what Kumar was trying to achieve and making suggestions on how to implement the system using as much of the available height in the roof voids as possible.

Key to the solution was a 3D CAD plan, which showed all the low ceiling struts. The output with the new system is very impressive – 3,000 garments per day, with a maximum capacity on the storage conveyor of 3,200 garments. The system is controlled completely by a SPOT EPoS terminal and fully automated, including automatic barcode recognition and automatic bagging. One feature that Kumar has opted for in addition to the system at White Rose is an automated completed order storage and delivery system. Here, the Metalprogetti system finishes off by collating the orders for delivery into batches for a delivery route or to be returned to an individual retail shop.

The system is highly versatile and saves on time and space. There are no more moving rails to dodge and searching for lost garments is a thing of the past. Additional benefits include full garment histories and management summaries of key production parameters.

Speaking some weeks post installation, Kumar commented: “We have been thrilled with the way the system works. In bagging and piecing up alone, we have already saved the equivalent of four people, two of whom have been redeployed to boost productivity in a different section of the unit. In addition, we will be installing a production tracing system within a month which will allow me to monitor the speed at which each pressing station produces garments. Importantly it will allow me to reject or accept garments giving a net accepted production rate from each presser who has to accept responsibility for each garment. From this we will be able to access reports about the productivity rate of each presser taking into account the quality of finish. Then we will be able to reward our workforce on results, rather than a having a blanket remuneration scheme. This system is not just nice to have, it is now an integral part of our operation. It will pay for itself in terms of increased production speed, quality and accuracy far faster than I ever thought possible.”



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