Laundry: Order of service

Laundry businesses of all types require the same thing – machinery that is reliable and which is backed up by a supplier with good maintenance protocols for no matter how good a product is, it will need servicing and may even break down.

It follows that suppliers that don’t make the grade cause more harm than a cheap machine ever will do. As they say, the test of a good company is not when something goes right but when something has gone wrong.

Adam Bernstein looks at what the manufacturers, suppliers and distributors are doing to keep the machines working.

Mary Simons, director at AGS, says that it’s one thing to sell equipment, but firms must ensure that they are available to help customers if repairs are needed. She says: “Some companies just want to sell as many machines as they can, however at AGS we want a long-lasting relationship and will support customers in every way; they always remember.”

It’s her view that support for servicing, spares and maintenance should be one of the important questions all customers should ask – “even with the best intentions things can go wrong and how a company deals with it paves the way to a relationship of trust and loyalty.” Her worry is that in terms of the initial purchase, many buyers look for the cheapest. She thinks that they’d be “better off looking at the price of new equipment with a more rounded view of charges that the machine will incur, the quality of the machine, and whether it offers something that other equipment on the market does not.”

AGS, says Simons, treats every customer individually and so before offering a service contract, looks at what the customer provides and what they need before discussing the options. “Everyone is looking at saving as much money as possible and as a company AGS can assist with this by offering what is the best for their site.”

In terms of products, AGS, says Simons, only sells Electrolux equipment “as in our opinion it is the best on the market. Electrolux has been around for many years and is very well known to the general public. And when spares are required, we can get them to a customer within 24 hours.” She adds that AGS engineers carry a large load of spares on their vans “as we know when a machine is out of order it is costing our customer money.” Simons recognises that laundry equipment needs to be regularly serviced and maintained. The problem AGS has to deal with is that “some customers are aware of this, but others wait and wait until the machine breaks down.”

Nevertheless, AGS will try to help and as Simon’s says, “we can assist customers to carry out minor repairs over the telephone while keeping within electricity and gas guidelines. But in other cases, we will get an engineer to site as soon as we can.”

The company will also “accelerate a visit if the nature of their problem means that their property cannot trade or there is a dangerous situation.” And to press the point home, Simons offers comments from a number of her customers including Mr and Mrs Shakouhi of One Dry Cleaners and H2O both in London who said “the company ensures fast, efficient and excellent repair and maintenance call outs”; Wendy Scattergood of Spinclean Launderette in Colchester who commented that “AGS has offered an excellent and prompt service for repairs and employs experienced engineers”; and Billie Tossoun of Chelsea Green Valet in London, who said “we have found AGS to be extremely efficient always attending to repairs as soon as possible… and always there if we just need to speak to them regarding a situation that is concerning us.”

AGS engineers are on hand to help

Jensen only uses genuine spare parts to maintain customer equipment and prolong life cycles

Martin Rauch, chief sales officer at Jensen, is keenly aware that laundry machinery not working isn’t earning – “worse still,” he says, “it could cost you customers and to stop this happening, Jensen has developed a set of services to keep a business healthy.”

The first is Jenassist remote access. Here, Jensen’s software has built-in remote functionality that permits a whole range of services to be performed remotely on equipment. As Rauch tells, “once the equipment is connected to Jenassist, a Jensen technician will be able to access the system to provide live assistance, analyse log files, run diagnostics or even correct a fault.”

He adds that Jenassist is more than a way of troubleshooting; it also automates regular machine checks and detects potential malfunctions. Jenassist has risen in popularity during the COVID-19 crisis when laundries were sometimes hesitant to have Jensen engineers onsite. Next is Jensen Academy where laundry managers can continue their education and training “to,” as Rauch says, “utilise the potential of the laundry to its fullest.” The academy uses trained Jensen experts and centres worldwide. The centres are equipped with machines for hands-on learning that focuses on washing and finishing processes as well as operation and maintenance. Jensen also holds courses at the laundry itself. Another element to consider is that Jensen only uses its parts to maintain equipment and so extend life cycles. With this Rauch says that “customers can continue to enjoy the Jensen product warranty that comes with each piece of equipment and which expires once non-Jensen parts have been used.”

He warns that wear parts do have a major impact on the processing quality and that “using original Jensen parts maximises reliability and availability, minimises maintenance outlay and ensures optimum functionality.”

To speed up the delivery of replacements, Jensen uses central warehouses at its production sites and decentralised parts stores in local sales and service centres. Parts can also be ordered via a webshop.

Maintenance contracts are another string to Jensen’s bow. And with a Jensen service contract, Rauch says that machines are regularly checked by an experienced technician and, above all, serviced and adjusted. He explains that under a contract, “generally, the technician comes to see a laundry once a week. The contract is based on annual working hours with reserve hours if necessary.”

Rauch believes that customers should be reassured that they “are supported worldwide with excellent after sales service through our own sales and service centres and distributors.” He adds that this includes “the fast supply of spare parts, online diagnosis and support, and the fast intervention through local Jensen engineers in emergency cases.”

Paul Haden, managing director at Laundry Engineering Services says that their “approach, philosophy and advice to our customers is that planning and implementing a robust preventative maintenance programme is key to their productive performance and working environment, and it will pay dividends in the long term.

“Our team of experienced laundry engineers are in high demand throughout the UK, on many occasions we are responding to an issue that has occurred which has impacted immediately on production throughput or on the quality of product finish. A high percentage of such faults would have been identified earlier if an ongoing transparent maintenance protocol had been in place.”

Haden advises that the key to this is actioning maintenance regularly and documenting it so the information is easily accessible when needed by production or an engineer. Accurate information and the machine history are invaluable in rectifying faults speedily and effectively and more importantly in identifying a potential problem and any spares needed.

Haden adds: “We believe that preventative maintenance can be influenced by anyone involved within a laundry environment and including a section on PPM within an induction programme can be of great benefit. Experience tells us that by taking time to introduce the functionality and capability of a machine to the operatives the buy in is high and they will generally take a pride in the environment that they are working in. “At the start of any production shift it is prudent to include some basic checks on all equipment with hourly and daily checks being part of the management of the laundry.

Regular cleaning and end of day shutdown processes are often key in identifying changes that may have occurred during the days production cycle. “Effective planned maintenance is the backbone of any organisation with equipment that needs to be maintained and is crucial to an organisation’s long-term survival. After all, if a piece of equipment breaks down, you will not be able to deliver your products and services, which could have serious consequences for your business. Not only will equipment downtime hurt profits, it could also affect your customer service and damage customer relations.”

LES’s Paul Haden advises that planning and implementing a robust preventative maintenance programme is key

Electrolux can offer contact-free support through a new augmented reality app called Two Pairs of Eyes

Duncan Cornish, head of operations and customer experience at Electrolux Professional, considers the issue of breakdowns beyond simple failures: “Equipment outages have a knock-on effect that not only impacts profitability but also the overall quality of output. If a washing machine or dryer breaks down, for example, operators have to reorganise their schedule.” He says it is not difficult to see how this can have a serious consequence for healthcare facilities, where available beds depend on access to clean laundry; or for hotels, where disruption can result in customers posting poor reviews. “In today’s market, the threat of unreliable equipment can legitimately be seen as the difference between success and failure.”

As would be expected with an international manufacturer, Electrolux has, what Cornish says is “an extensive, UK-wide network of authorised service partners. Our customer care programme, Essentia, is designed to give businesses operational assurance and committed support throughout the year.” Essentia covers servicing contracts, accessories and consumables. It also covers a yearly preventative maintenance visit, with support from a 24/7 contact centre. Cornish points out that numerous parts and labour options are available, and the service is not limited to just Electrolux Professional machines. The contracts are priced across three tiers. Cornish reckons that the arrangement is transparent, “with no hidden costs or conditions.”

Contracts begin from just £5 a week. In detail, the Performance plan is designed to ensure warranty conditions with consistent and optimum operating performance; Premium enhances the performance service agreement with the added advantage of included spares costs for reactive field interventions. This package also includes discount on Electrolux consumables and accessories, as well as access to the field support network; and the Excellence plan provides fully inclusive support at a fixed cost, along with an extended warranty and a maintenance and response programme to reduce and resolve any unexpected issues. This package assists with relevant regulatory requirements. On top of these three plans, Cornish says that Electrolux is now able to offer customers remote, contact-free support through a new augmented reality app – Two Pairs of Eyes. As he says, “there are some scenarios which will always require a site visit, but there are also a number of other instances where an issue can be simply resolved remotely. Two Pairs of Eyes is designed exactly for that and can eliminate a lot of the confusion caused by other forms of remote diagnostics.”

The service works on mobile and tablet devices and allows service and maintenance technicians to remotely guide customers through basic servicing, repair and maintenance tasks, as well as remote training and product tutorials. The app also ensures any necessary remedial work can take place on sites with strict access limitations.

Drycleaners and laundries have, says Jason Alexander, managing director at Renzacci UK, seen fewer weddings, business trips, anniversary c elebr a t ions , pr oms , graduations and funerals amid the surge in coronavirus infection rates. To stay afloat, he’s seen many adopt contactless delivery and collection services. And with that, “their machines still needed to operate at fully capacity, morning through to evening, to keep up with the increased demand.” It’s for this reason that he knows that “it’s crucial for shop owners to ensure that their equipment supplier has the appropriate resources available to support them after the initial sale to, crucially, mitigate any shop downtime.”

Renzacci UK uses a “state of-the-art service management system” to run its customer service and maintenance operation. Called Call2Field, Alexander says it “incorporates a number of smart features, including a fully comprehensive call logging, scheduling and service management package, all easily accessible via a smartphone, tablet or laptop.” He says that should a customer experience issues with their machine and require the assistance of an engineer, Renzacci UK can easily access the customers’ machine specifications to identify in advance the parts required for the repair, “ensuring the job is completed quickly and efficiently on arrival.”

Notably, even during a repair or service, should a part be required, stock levels can be accessed remotely onsite to give the customer real-time information as to the availability and an accurate timescale for fitting. Alexander reckons that “the system has completely revolutionised the service department. We’re able to operate more effectively, remotely and have more information at our fingertips, which allows us to deliver a more efficient service to our customers. Since implementing the system, we’ve managed to obtain a first-time fix-rate of 93 per cent, which we aim to increase further in the coming year.”

Given current restrictions, many businesses have had to adopt remote working practices to ensure customers remain supported. On this Alexander says that Renzacci UK “has implemented virtual servicing and maintenance measures to support customers in this COVID-19 world, where social distancing and travel restrictions are so prevalent.” He tells of a Wales-based customer, who was experiencing problems with their boiler and called Renzacci UK requesting an engineer. However, as Alexander describes, “given the strict travel restrictions at the time and COVID measures in place, Jerry Jones, chief engineer at Renzacci UK, instead gave the customer step-by-step instructions on how to diagnose and fix the fault internally.”

To help with remote diagnosis, Renzacci UK has, says Alexander, “invested heavily in high-tech equipment and video conferencing facilities to limit face-to-face contact. The team can now successfully deliver virtual machine support and live streaming of machine maintenance for customers to conduct themselves, whilst stringent COVID-19 restrictions remain.”

Renzacci UK’s team of engineers have been successfully delivering virtual machine support and live streaming of machine maintenance throughout the pandemic

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