The laundry at The Leela, Mumbai, is undergoing a revamp, under the leadership of the new Corporate Laundry Manager, Chinmoy Chatterjee, to enhance the quality of services it provides. In an exclusive interview with Clean India Journal, he speaks about the importance of effective management of laundry operations and systems.
The importance of laundry and the role it plays in a hotel…
Laundry services of the hotel cater to both external as well as internal customers. The volume of internal laundry is almost 95%, of which room linen alone is 55%, besides uniforms and other linen from utilities like spa and F&B. The remaining 5% consists of guest laundry and is the only revenue generating mode for the laundry department.
The basics of laundry management mainly include gathering of data on equipment performance, running time, hourly productivity and utilisation of human resources. There are some parameters that have to be followed in a laundry – cleanliness and hygiene, documentation, process mapping, system monitoring, revenue management, cost control, energy conservation and audits. These are some prime factors that provide data and help in analysing the performance of the department.
People, Process and Product are the pillars of efficient laundry operations. If people follow the correct process then the resultant product will be appropriate too. With automation and technologically advanced equipment, laundry processes are now much easier.
What about selecting and maintaining laundry equipment?
There is a need to understand the requirements and quality expectations from the laundry; even though the latter is a subjective concern. The Leela Mumbai is a 390-room hotel and on an average we process close to three to four tonnes of laundry each day. Quality and efficient output directly depends on the equipment used to process laundry linen. While selecting the equipment for laundry, the duration spent on the whole process of laundry has to be taken into consideration. Brands make a difference and also effect the purchase decision. An established brand in the market influences the customer’s mind. Feedback from end user is another factor, as it provides data on the actual experience with the brand. After sales services and AMC play a deciding factor too, as it is necessary to know if the supplier is providing support in the event of any challenges faced with the equipment. The location of the laundry has to be kept in mind while selecting the equipment. If on a higher level, soft mount equipment can be used whereas hard mound machines can go into the basement.
Proper maintenance has to be undertaken to ensure that the equipment provides efficient results. Laundry equipment are very expensive and management support is necessary for investment. We are in midst of a revamp at Leela Mumbai. We will employ a centralised dispensing system that will cater to all the machines bringing equivalency and increasing efficiency while providing superior results.
Changes for enhanced performances…
The main energy guzzler in laundry is the boiler as majority of the processes requires steam to function. So the longer it is running, the bigger the energy consumption. Earlier, uniforms were collected in the morning and tended to in tandem with the guest laundry making it difficult to provide prompt services. Changing the uniform collection time from morning to evening has ensured that the uniforms are ready by next day. The time previously devoted to both uniforms and guest laundry now solely focuses on one, finishing the job more quickly and efficiently. These changes have not only cut down the number of personnel engaged in a particular operation but has led to efficient use of both manual and equipment resources. Fine-tuning of the laundry operations is necessary to enhance its performance.
For example, with automation in place, the manual intervention in the washing area like for dosing will be minimised. During various wash cycles, different cleaning products like neutralisation agent or softener is added in accordance to the nature of the load. With the central dispensing system, the machines will be programmed accordingly. In the drying area, we plan to source two more dryers in addition to the existing one.
In the finishing line, the most important part of the laundry process, we have introduced machine pressing, with the team continuously being coached and trained on its operation. The parameters and the training systems in place are vital for the productivity of the employees. We have started with briefings that include facts and figures on laundry, thought for the day, Leela habits, reports on occupation, production, revenue, etc., so that the employees feel more inclusive. There is a need to make them aware on the workings of the hotel, the challenges faced, the complaints and its solutions. Everything has to be transparent and out in the open for a productive work environment. Employees have to be trusted to know what methods can provide with the best results. If they see the superior results that specific methods provide, they will happily adapt to it.
Energy usage and conservation in Leela…
Laundry operations consume huge amount of water. On an average, 80kl of water could be used per day to process around four tonnes of laundry. Usually the entire quantity of water gets drained out, but we have a system in place where the water is collected in a tank and treated. The water treatment plants are of two types – Sewerage Treatment Plant and Effluent Treatment Plant and there are four stages to the treatment. The water for STP comes from the entire hotel with the treated water being used for WCs and gardening. In ETP, water containing chemicals is treated, where the parameters in treating this kind of water are different, as the additives have to be neutralised for reuse.
Energy conservation should be a part of laundry management. It should be seen in the equipment sourced and the chemicals used to increase the efficiency of laundry. High temperatures effects the ‘turns per inches’ of the yarns and fibres of the fabrics, so chemicals that work in cold water are an excellent example on how saving energy can also enhance the life of the linen. The soil level in Indian scenario is different as the awareness on linen usage is at a lower level in comparison to the global standards. So unlike in India, globally there is no need for higher and stronger chemical dosage. For example, in F&B linen in India, the sauces and spice stains can be removed only through chorine, but it ekes out the life of the fabric. The widely used ozone water technology in combination with hydrogen peroxide removes stains at low temperature, but they do not work in Indian conditions and on stains. Indigenous methods are needed to provide with personalised solutions to the problems.
The important factor in energy conservation is investment. The one off cost for energy efficient equipment may be higher than the normal ones, but in the long run it works better. Since energy efficient equipment requires huge investments, the financial constraints contribute greatly to the reluctance in switching to them. Attitude for energy conservation is different in India due to lack of awareness. The consultants, who take the last call, should have a foresight on potential savings equipment while selecting them.