Travelling Scholarship 2023 – Graham Roberts Tech IOSH

Firstly, thanks must go to the Worshipful Company of Launderers, for giving me this opportunity and allowing me to enhance my knowledge and make some invaluable contacts within our industry.

The week started by arriving at the Gomersal Park Hotel, we then met each other and were joined by Rick Welburn, Northern Area Manager for Christeyns. It was then off for a curry courtesy of Christeyns. This was a great start for us all, allowing us to get to know one another and what roles and experience we all had. Needless to say, the food and conversation were excellent.

The first day of visits began with a group breakfast before we headed off to the Lindstrom Plant in Bradford which specialises on Industrial Wipers. Upon arrival we were greeted by a very friendly member of staff before heading to the canteen to meet Ian Muir, Head of Operations UK. Whilst waiting to meet Ian, we had the pleasure of meeting Gary Donnison and John Lloyd. After being introduced to Ian, we where very fortunate to meet, Peter Jones, Lindstrom UK MD and Mika Kujala, Senior Vice President, Central and Western Europe, both made us feel extremely welcome to the Bradford site.

We then had a brief site history from Ian, which then lead onto our site tour. We started at the loading area which incorporated goods in/goods out before heading over to the sorting area. It was good to see the way in which the wipers where transported to and from site in specialist containers, beneficial to the environment given the industries they are used in. Following the process, it was interesting to see the Vega equipment they use and the general laundering process. As we walked around it was interesting to hear some of the questions asked and Ian was ready with the answers, no matter what we asked. I was very impressed after enquiring what Lindstrom do with their scrap wipers, they are sent to Sweden where the wipes are broken down and the fabric recycled to make denim jeans…. impressive.

Whilst it was interesting to see Lindstrom’s laundering process, the real jewel in the Bradford site crown was their impressive effluent plant. We were introduced to Cosmin Dragan, the specialist engineer who oversees the facility. Cosmin was very knowledgeable and keen to answer the many questions asked. It was impressive to see the stages of filtration and the end result which allows the site to be self-reliant in regard to waste water and the recycling process. With little to no waste as the waste that can’t be used is sent to a cement works to be used in the manufacturing process. The heat recovery from this plant ensures that it is as economical as possible and wasted residual heat is minimised. The saving of heat and energy is remarkable at the site and is extremely beneficial to their whole process. All of the water recycled in the plant is then used to enable the washing process to begin all over again, allowing Lindstrom to use the minimalist amount of mains water.

Everyone at Lindstrom should be proud of the facility at Bradford and this should be showcased throughout the industry as game changer in regard to sustainability and self-sufficiency. Sustainability is high on the agenda, this is evident by the attitudes and mentality of all at Lindstrom. Ian and all the team should be proud of the site which was very impressive and very clean.

Lunch was kindly provided by Lindstrom and was well received, then it was on to the Christeyns site for the second part of the day.

Arriving at Christeyns Bradford site, we were greeted by Amy Knight, Laundry Academy Development Manager. Amy spoke to us about the general laundry process and the way in which Christeyns has developed products to meet the needs of large commercial laundries and OPL’s. following our comprehensive talk, we then embarked on our site tour. It was at this point we met, Neil Eaton, Production Manager at the Bradford site, who was the lead on our tour. We started in the onsite laboratory, where Christeyns can replicate the cleaning process and carry out experiments to determine what causes anomalies within the cleaning process, highlighting new stains and even faults within the dry-cleaning process. It is these innovate measures which enable the industry to go from strength to strength. We then moved to Powders. Within this department the variety of powders created by Christeyns are blended, it was an eye opener to learn that they do much more than chemicals for the laundry industry. It was surprising to learn that the powders department is an extremely lean department with 6 staff at most and production is planned two weeks in advance.  We then took a short car journey to Liquids, surprising that the facility is split across two sites.

As we arrived at Liquids, the impressive sight of the newly installed 50,000 litre bulk tanks gives you the scale of the operation. Interestingly the double skinned tanks allow the rare occurrence of overfilling, to be self-contained which then allows the spilt chemical to be recovered and no environmental consequences. Heading inside, the first thing I noticed was the perfumed smell of Bisoft in the air, a familiar smell to many a launderer who works with Christeyns. As we walked around, we were shown the many ingredients held that make up some of the products that we are all aware of. We then watched from a safe distance, the filling operations that where taking place. A process that was still done by hand in one section and automated in the other sections. We learnt that this was due to change in the future, a continuing sign of investment by Christeyns at their Bradford site. We then were introduced to the production supervisor who talked us through the blending processes that take place, informing us of the precision required to add the perfume to the chemical at the right point to ensure longevity for the customer, 35 degrees is the optimum temperature. Like the powder department, the liquid department is also run on a staff of 6, people work where needed and sometimes alternate between both sites. Production is planned two weeks in advance and is planned off forecasting provided by the sales department. Allowing for production to be as precise as possible and delivery be, On Time in Full (OTIF).

We then took a short walk to Fill Off and Transport, within this department it is where you will find their Cole and Wilson products being filled and smaller sizes of chemical drums being filled, yet again the staffing is extremely lean with limited personnel on site. It was also good to see their warehousing and transport operation, whilst not entirely beneficial to the average launderer it is good to understand the whole process. Then it was back in the car for the very short trip back to the office. Upon our return we had another comprehensive talk from Amy, were we got to understand the two new and innovative wash processes that Christeyns are encouraging into the market place through Puresan and Cool Chemistry.  What I was impressed by was the Cool Chemistry and the onsite mixing of bleaching products that this will offer. This will be a benefit for sites who struggle with the storage and lifespan of hypochlorite bleach and will offer the chance for the bleaching process to be more beneficial to the laundry.

We then departed Christeyns and headed back to the hotel, where later in the evening we met up with Peter, Mika, Ian and Paul Reilly from Lindstrom for dinner. The conversation over dinner was beneficial to all around the table and I am sure everyone took something worthwhile away from it.

Day two started with breakfast in the hotel where we once again joined the Lindstrom team. After a very hearty breakfast off to Johnsons Hotel Linen Leeds we went. Upon arrival we were greeted by Jon Cooper, Operations Director for JHL, at this point we also met a contingent from Swiscot Textiles who were joining for the day. As we headed upstairs, it was nice to be well received by everybody we passed as we headed to the boardroom. Once inside the boardroom we met Ken Cupitt and Selwyn Burchhardt of the WCL as well as Dave Aveyard of Christeyns, we were then joined by other guests. Jon Cooper then delivered an in depth talk on the history of Johnsons Hotel Linen and the values of the company, assisted by Andrew Grant, JHL Finance Director, which as an existing employee of JHL reminded me of our companies focus. Luke Gledhill, General Manager of JHL Leeds then gave us a very detailed history of the Leeds journey and the current position the site was in. We then broke off in to small clusters and began our tour of the facility. Our cluster was made up of the travelling scholars and was led by Jon Cooper, who along the tour was imparting his knowledge with us and answering any questions we had. Starting at the goods in and sorting department it was there we began to follow the process. It was interesting to see the sorting area with its monitors displaying the products which where to be sorted, this is a much better system than currently in use in other facilities. We then moved around the site to the wash house, boiler house, chemical room and engineering workshop all of which where remarkably clean. It was also good to see how energy efficient the site is. We then moved on and looked at the ironer lines, an impressive technological set up leading to the minimisation of manual handling in this area clearly enables greater production efficiencies. It was good to see the technology in use and showcases the equipment Kannegieser produce. As we moved around it was to towels, shrink wrap and packing next, whilst trying to not get in the way too much. It was then we moved into the staff facilities, impressive was an understatement and a very nice area for the employees to have their well-deserved break. A quick peek at the transport department, before we were encouraged to go back and have a look at the production floor at our own pace. It was a useful period of time for myself, as it allowed me to look at the differences in production between this site and the site I work at. It was also good to learn about things that we do differently or not at all. We then headed upstairs for a coffee and to reconvene with the other parties. Once everyone was back in the boardroom, we had a question and answer session and Daniel Mooney, Operations Manager JHL Leeds gave us an overview on staffing, engagement and retention of staff, with lots to takeaway from that. A quick photo opportunity outside with the scholars and Luke was taken before heading back upstairs for lunch, kindly supplied by JHL. Ken Cupitt then gave us a talk on the Worshipful Company of Launderers and the opportunities that can be offered by them. It was then time for me to use a little time speaking with Luke and Dan, in order to assist me upon my return to my JHL site. Once we had all eaten and been refreshed, it was time to say our goodbyes and head towards Johnsons Workwear plant. What I can say about the JHL Leeds site, is it is an impressive modern site which is clean, and the staff are extremely welcoming. Credit must go to Luke and Dan for this and I will look forward to my next visit there. Thanks also to Jon Cooper who ensured our visit to the site was as informed as it could possibly be.

We then headed off to Johnsons Workwear in Leeds, arriving a little later than the others due to a sat nav glitch (my fault). Upon our arrival at the Bridgewater road site, we were welcomed by Nigel Evans, General Manager and Simon Sykes, Production Manager. We then embarked on our final site tour of the week. As we made our way upstairs, we were given a history of how this site began life elsewhere, in the form of John Crockatt, The Yorkshire Dye Works. Which later joined the Johnson Group around 1935. It is great to see that historical imagery and a truly magnificent bust of John Crockatt are proudly displayed within the site as a reminder of the past and how pretty much all laundries stem from dye works of some description. We then moved to the engine room of the site, where surprisingly it is steam generators in use instead of steam boilers, we are all pretty much familiar with and associate with laundry. On to the production floor we went, learning that the processing facility is split in two sections, blue line and white line. The blue line caters for the industrial workwear cleaning and the white line caters for the food industry workwear. The separated processing lines allow for the dedicated programs to be used and ensure high standards for the respective clients. Within the sorting department it was interesting to learn that the staff don’t work anywhere else within the facility allowing for the upmost control of the processing. The short turnaround on the incoming workwear means that the sorting department has to be as controlled as possible. We then headed down to the main factory area. We looked at the wash house and learnt of the processes in place, the facility can wash workwear, dust mats, cabinet towels and wipes all under one roof. Following the production round, we looked at the garment process and learnt of the identification methods used and how the planning is crucial to ensure no mix up of customers goods. Simon explained how the tracking of the garments worked and how the intelligent hanger system identifies the garment and relays the information. The endless circling hangers ensure you appreciate the scale of the operation. Following the process further took us to the garment repair section, where various tasks can be carried out to ensure customers goods leave when they need to and are not delayed causing inconvenience to the end user. Then round to the folding and packaging side of the process, garments are packed in to cages for specific routes and then labelled ready for drivers to collect. After this section of the processing, we looked at the dust mats and learnt the processes that take place and the way they are stored, picked and delivered. We then made our way over to the white line processing area, however due to the controls in place to maintain the hygiene standards required, we observed through the window as Simon explained the process and answered any questions that were raised. It was interesting to learn how Covid19 affected the production in the opposite way to the flat linen side of the industry, also interesting to learn of the protocols put in place because of this. This then concluded our site tour, Nigel and Simon answered any further questions before we said goodbye to them and the members of the WCL that had joined us. We then headed back to the hotel (correct postcode used) along the way the four scholars discussed the four site visits and what we had taken away from them all. Later that evening we had dinner courtesy of Jon Cooper and Andrew Grant both of JHL, discussing various points relating to the industry and I am sure we took some valuable points away from these two experienced gentlemen.

This then concluded what was a truly wonderful and educational couple of days. I have made some wonderful industry contacts, learnt things I thought I already knew and expanded my knowledge of the industry we all enjoy being a part of. It was made even more enjoyable by the three other scholars who I joined on Monday evening as strangers but left on Thursday as industry friends, thanks to Brian, Javier and Lana for a good couple of days.

I would like to express my sincere thanks to all the people who welcomed us to their sites and allowed us to understand our industry that little bit more and their warm hospitality, thanks to

Christeyns, Lindstrom, Johnsons Hotel Linen and Johnsons Workwear.

Most of all, I would like to thank the Worshipful Company of Launderers for allowing us this opportunity.

It has been a real privilege to be part of the Travelling Scholarship and something that will be beneficial as I continue my own laundry journey, I would recommend that anyone who sees the advert for the next one applies. I would do it all over again if I could.

Travelling Scholarship 2023 – Bryan Smith, Business Development Manager, Lindstrom UK

Firstly, let me say what fabulous experience for me personally.  Having been involved in the industry in one way or another over my career I can honestly say I still learned plenty to take away from it.

Lindstrom UK Bradford:

I am, as you know, a Business Development Manager for the Midlands promoting our Recycled wipes and Spill mats which are cleaned and redistributed to our customers daily.

However, the visit was a true eye opener with regards to our water how we remove our soiled water on site to reduce down from sludge to crystal clear to reuse again in our laundry.  This also reduces heat consumption and is fantastic for the environment in our goals to reduce our carbon footprint.

Our engineers on site work to the highest standards making sure we strive to continue in our goals to help the Planet.  I would also point out Ian Muir was a great help to fully explain the benefits of Lindstrom Bradford to all of us.

With regards to Christeyns what an absolute pleasure our host, Amy Knight, was.  She showed us around the plants with the Operations Manager explaining how their products work with all Laundries around the UK for their various needs and requirements.

I had never realised just what went into Large Washing Machines in the Laundry to clean Soiled garments or indeed other services such as mats.  I always knew it was a different type of cleaning solution, but it seems there are different types for all types of laundry required.  Christeyns seems to have the solution that clearly shows why they are one of the market leaders and they are still a family Business which is I personally think is excellent.

All in all, an enjoyable visit and I must again thank Amy for her support on the day.

Johnson Hotel and Catering and Johnsons Workwear – two very different sites.

I have always known about Johnsons, indeed, I worked as a Field Sales Manager for 4 years based from home but my office was their Perry Barr site under my then Manager Richard Sturman Regional Sales Director.

Johnsons have always been a very forward-thinking company which was clearly evident in their new site for Johnson’s Linen Leeds (what an impressive facility it was) -state of the art equipment with a strong work force and very clean in every way.

We watched line after line from start to finish how for example sheets or table cloths are processed daily to package back to their customers.  It was clear to me they are showing why they are becoming the company in this division i.e. linen attracting more and more customers every year.

I was particularly impressed with their staff canteen.  A fresh clean area with nice seats and atmospheric surroundings with art on the walls to make staff realise they not just a number.

They also do various games like spin the wheel to get a prize or indeed monthly rewards for nominated employees for going the extra mile.

Our host, Luke, was very knowledgeable, and we all enjoyed lunch and a catch up before moving on to Johnsons Apparel Master Workwear services Leeds.

To say the difference was clear was true.  A much older Building but very similar to what I expected from all my previous employment with Johnsons all those years ago.

The site was also clean and it was an enjoyable walk around watching how it all still comes together which if I’m honest hasn’t changed that much apart from how they load their soiled garments.

That said, it’s a very busy laundry with 1,500 staff, so they are obviously still a force in the industry.  I always think if it’s not broken don’t fix it and this is clearly the case with Johnsons’ UK.

I must thank our host here, Nigel, and his staff who were great and to go back in time, you might say, for me at least.

I also must thank the Livery Company who made it possible and some of whom joined us on our visits to both sites.  They too were wonderful hosts so please let them know on my behalf it has been a great experience for me personally.

Travelling Scholarship 2023 – Javier Maqueda, Operations Manager, Dash Linen

It is the first time that I have been involved in training of this kind, and I have to say that it has been an amazing experience in all aspects.  Even though I have worked for a big laundry, the possibility of having seen other factories with different purposes has improved my understanding of the internal operations that are carried out.  Right now, I am part of an independent laundry that is focused mainly in high quality restaurants, and I have been able to acquire some ideas to implement.

In terms of the networking, everywhere I went the people were amazing. I not only met the people who attended the visits, but I was also able to speak with engineers, production managers, or even factory managers. And of course, I have continued talking with them to learn as much as possible, discussing situations or asking for advice.

I really want to say that was a very good experience and I would recommend it to anyone who is willing to develop their career within the laundry industry.  Thank you very much for the effort made to make this possible.