Hello WATS Members:
The past months have been very difficult for our country, our economy and our industry. Our industry was considered ‘essential’, and we must be thankful for that. However, many customers were not and have been forced to close or curtail their business. The impact on WATS members varies tremendously. The overall picture on the virus is as confusing as ever. New cases have risen, but hospitalizations and deaths have not matched that rise.
Many companies have had to figure out ways to survive in the circumstances they find themselves in. I hope all of the WATS companies are fighting through it.
Looking around the country, I am glad I live in Wisconsin. We are a lot more ‘normal’ than many places.
I hope that everyone has been able to enjoy time with your families. COVID-19 has touched everyone in different ways. One little bit of good from all of this for me has been the ability to get with old friends. In small groups, of course. And to make phone calls to people who are pretty much stuck at home. I had a great talk with an elderly gentleman yesterday who has been at home pretty much since mid-March. He, like me, is leaving the TV off. I think he really enjoyed having someone to talk to. I learned things from him that I never knew. That was time well spent.
On WATS business: our Brewer Game has been canceled for 2020. For the time being no fans will be allowed at any games. We have reached out to all members who have made payment for the game to give the option of a refund or to use that money for future use. We look forward to our 2021 WATS Brewers Game!
We were very much looking forward to our WATS Fall Conference. WATS Board met back in July and have decided to move the speakers to a virtual only session for the safety of our members. We have a couple of great speakers lined up; Former Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and former Green Bay Packer Paul Coffman. With this portion being virtual we will be offering this free to our members. We are looking at still holding the golf portion of the event for those who are interested. The golf portion will be held at The Legend of Bergamont on Wednesday, September 23rd.
Please stay safe and healthy during these difficult times. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions. We are here for everyone during these difficult times.
The 2020 Fall Conference will definitely look different this year. For those interested in golfing we will still be holding the golf outing. All of our speakers will be held virtually. We will send out the login information for the virtual event a day prior to the event. Please make sure to sign up if you plan on attending our virtual event this year!
O’Day’s Selected as Distribution Partner for UVD Robots
Hammond, IN firm to market and support autonomous UV-C Disinfection Robot
Hammond, IN – 6/1/2020 – O’Day’s, Inc. is pleased to announce a strategic distribution partnership with UVD Robots for the sale, service, and support of the UVD Robot to the Uniform and Linen Industry.
Available since 2018, the UVD Robot was originally developed to address hospital acquired infections and is now in use in more than 40 countries, across a growing array of market sectors such as mass transit, and manufacturing, as well as high use venues including commercial offices, malls, airports, and casinos.
“O’Day’s is proud to partner with UVD Robots to bring the unique, high-tech disinfection UVD Robot to the industry. This leading-edge technology solution can augment existing cleaning and disinfection protocols to more effectively and efficiently kill viruses and bacteria,” said Steve O'Day, President/CEO, O'Day's, Inc.
“We at UVD Robots are delighted to join forces with O’Day’s and benefit from their commitment to excellent customer service. This strategic partnership will help expand the reach for our award winning UVD Robot within the US, help restore confidence in the workplace, and continue in the ongoing fight against COVID-19,” said Brian Coffey, Sales Director for the Americas at UVD Robots.
The UVD Robot combines proven UV-C lighting along with state-of-the art intelligent robotics. The robot scans the environment and creates a digital map thus programming the robot. The robot then operates completely on its own to accomplish the disinfection task. A typical room can take 10-15 minutes to disinfect, stopping at 5-6 different positions to maximize disinfection.
Hundreds of the UVD Robots have been deployed to locations around the world including Wuhan, China to help in the battle against COVID-19.
The UVD Robot earned the 2019 15th Innovation and Entrepreneurship Award in Robotics and Automation (IERA) from the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) and the euRobotics Technology Transfer Award 2020.
About UVD Robots
UVD Robots, a subsidiary of Blue Ocean Robotics, is a Danish company established in Odense, Denmark, following a successful co-development project between Odense University Hospital and Blue Ocean Robotics resulting in the unique UV-Disinfection Robot. The UVD Robot has been clinically tested and verified at Odense University Hospital and by independent microbiological laboratories. Visit www.UVD-Robots.com for more information.
Article provided by TRSA
Robert W. Baird & Co., in partnership with TRSA, recently released the results of the June 2020 (2Q20) Uniform & Linen Rental Survey. Baird also released a “flash survey” in April to take into account the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that its first-quarter survey missed.
In the second-quarter survey, the key findings among uniform rental operators included:
- Rental Revenue Trends: 70% of respondents fell short of internal revenue projections for the quarter with 15% meeting target. Fifteen-percent exceeded plan.
- Add/Stops: Employment-driven expansion at existing accounts fell to 15.8 (diffusion index), its first negative (i.e., <50) reading since Sept. 2016 and the lowest absolute level since March 2009.
- Pricing: Base pricing gains increased nearly 1% and the diffusion index held mostly stable at 47.4.
- No-Programmers: New sales index fell to 36.8, from 56.5 last quarter. Like Add/Stops, this was the first negative print since 2016 and the lowest absolute print since Sept. 2009.
- Growth Outlook: Positively, respondents see +1.4% growth over the next 12 months. Open response comments suggest outlook dependent upon economic reopenings and customer viability.
Key linen rental survey findings included:
- Rental Revenue Trends: 89% of respondents cited rental revenue trends falling well below expectations in 2Q20 with 6% citing revenue near expectations.
- New Account Pricing: 17% of respondents cited more-aggressive new-account pricing in 2Q20 while 22% saw less-aggressive pricing. The balance (61%) saw no change. As a result, the diffusion index pushed into positive territory at 52.8. Presumably, new accounts came with more cost to serve (e.g., personal protective equipment) needs.
- Base Account Pricing: The average price increase on existing accounts undergoing price review in 2Q20 was +0.5%, dipping lower from last quarter’s +1.74%. Overall, 33% of respondents cited price increases with 50% reporting no material change. Only 17% saw contraction.
- No-Programmers: No-programmer interest showed quarter-over-quarter deterioration and turned negative (36.1) for the first time since we began tracking this industry category in 2015.
- Growth Outlook: Forecasted 12-month revenue is expected to decline 4.2% on average over the next 12 months, although close to 40% of respondents cited revenue decline expectations of greater than 10%.
Automation is empowering Intermountain to do more with a smaller staff
Article Provided by Medline Industries
Healthcare laundries across the country are continuing to experience labor shortages, and Intermountain Healthcare’s laundry operation in Woods Cross, Utah, is no exception. Intermountain operates in a state with a traditionally low unemployment rate, according to Scott Schofield, senior director of supply chain services. With a large group of employees nearing retirement, plus labor pool competition from businesses like Amazon, Intermountain found itself with 15 open positions in the past year.
Automation can be a big part of the solution to laundry labor shortages. Schofield and his team were able to secure contingency funds for the new equipment they needed after putting together a detailed business case. They determined that automation clearly would drive significant return on investment, and in 2019, Intermountain invested in an additional bagging machine, two garment folders, and Medline’s PlastiVac bag-to-baler.
Laundry bagging machines can be an efficient way to cut down on the number of full-time employees required for the wash and dry process. Intermountain is now bagging microfiber cloths and mops, baby shirts, baby diapers, reusable isolation gowns, washcloths, pillowcases and contour sheets, and the laundry plans to begin bagging its other sheets as well.
“From the washing machine, [laundry goes] through our automated process and right to the bagging machine. No human touches them,” says Schofield. One person mans the machine, but no additional staff members are needed for packing the cleaned products.
In addition to reducing the amount of labor to complete the process, bagging machines can improve cleanliness. If someone drops unbagged garments or linens on the floor at the laundry or healthcare facility, those items need to be rewashed. But bagged laundry items are removed one at a time when ready for use, and dropping the sealed bag on the floor is not an issue.
Intermountain’s two automated garment folders require only a couple of staff members to load them, fewer than the number of workers needed to manually fold scrubs. “We were able to redeploy eight caregivers working in the scrub area,” says Schofield. “We took those caregivers and put them in areas we needed them.”
In addition, the PlastiVac creates a smoother workflow for Intermountain’s soiled and sort area. Instead of bailing linens in rewashable laundry bags, the PlastiVac uses recyclable plastic bags. “It is environmentally friendly. It allows us to use less water and chemicals in the wash process,” says Schofield.
The recyclable bags also are smaller than rewashable laundry bags, which reduces the weight that employees in the laundry are lifting at one time. Intermountain was concerned about employee injury related to heavy lifting, and the smaller plastic bags lessen that risk.
The Intermountain laundry staff has had a positive reaction after learning how to work with the automated machines, says Schofield, but healthcare customers have experienced more of a learning curve. Some healthcare workers, for example, were removing all items from a bag and stacking them on shelves, rather than removing items one at a time so they remain clean and untouched until removed for use. The Intermountain laundry team stepped in to teach customers about the value of bagged laundry from an infection prevention perspective.
Bagged laundry also helps healthcare customers with room turnover time because the contour sheets are easier to remove from the bags and pop on the beds, according to Schofield. “We can actually reduce the amount of time it takes to make a bed by almost 30 percent,” he says.
Since investing in automation, the laundry has added an additional hospital to its workload and a number of external clients. And this year, Intermountain will be opening a new hospital that will generate approximately 1 million pounds of laundry per year.
“We have seen significant growth in our pounds that we are producing every year over the last couple of years,” says Schofield. “We are growing in production, but we are shrinking the amount of people we [have] actually working in the plant.”
The Intermountain laundry is continuing to look at ways to put automation to work, adds Schofield. In the near term, bagging is a big priority. “Once it [laundry] goes in the wash and dry cycle, [the more] we can keep it out of people’s hands, the better it is going to be,” says Schofield. “We are trying to make it a touchless process.”
WSI Donates Hand Sanitizer
To help First Responders, Medical Transports, and Nursing homes in the Greater Cincinnati area with their urgent need for Hand Sanitizer, WSI recently donated cases of 16 oz bottles. An active member of the Greater Cincinnati Safety Council, a division of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, WSI was able to reach many local organizations quickly and supply them at no charge. For one full week, individuals and organizations were able to pick up Hand Sanitizer at WSI’s Loveland, OH corporate office, Xavier University, and arrange for delivery.
It was extremely gratifying to hear that WSI's donation came at "Just the right time!" as some companies literally emptied their last bottle the previous day. WSI will look into additional opportunities to help our local heroes.
Provided by TRSA
Reaching out to leaders of the United States Senate and House of Representatives, TRSA is encouraging action on a stimulus package that has been stalled for some time in Congress.
Among the items TRSA is looking for in the stimulus package to protect the linen, uniform and facility services industry are:
- A second set of forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans
- Improvements to Economic Injury Disaster Loans
- Longer-term loans with partial forgiveness
- Enhancements to the Employee Retention Tax Credit
- Work Opportunity Tax Credit – a tax credit for customer and employee wellness investments
- Safe harbor protections from COVID-19-related litigation
Outlining the need for action, Joseph Ricci, TRSA president and CEO, states in the letter that, “TRSA’s constituency within this market is on pace to erode by anywhere from 20 percent in the industrial sector to over 60 percent in the food-and-beverage and hospitality sectors before the winter holidays as customer sectors further roll back operations. Without any further action, the anticipated job losses will approach over 60,000.”
In the letter to Congress, Ricci also highlighted the recognition of the linen, uniform and facility services industry as a “critical infrastructure” industry as designated by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.