24th April 2017 John Haden
Berendsen – Copenhagen Denmark
Myself and three others working within the laundry industry in the UK were sent to Denmark to draw a comparison of the specific differences between the industry in the UK and Denmark.
Monday 24 April Danish Headquarters in Søborg
We met with Michael Iversen (Operations Director) and Michael Schuster Nyholm (Divisional Director) at the Danish Headquarters in Søborg, We were talked through a presentation that outlined their core values as well as where they have come from and where they want to be in the future, it was obvious to see that there had been a recent shakeup on all levels to allow them to progress.
It was obvious to see that they are selling not only a service but an experience to their end users, they fully believe they play a role in the experience of anyone staying in any of the rooms they help to service.
There was an array of linen on show showcasing the products they offer to their customers. It was also interesting to find out that they buy the linen through a local wholesaler instead of going direct to the mills, like some of the larger players are doing in the UK.
We were talked through what makes them succeed. This was down to the continued investment and encouragement for staff from the shop floor through to managers. Berendsen provide language schools in all of their plants to help anyone that may not speak Danish as well as English.
Tuesday 25 April, Berendsen Hillerød – Hospitality
We were greeted by Henrik Bile Pedersen – Plant Manager, from the start he was very passionate about the plant he runs, Hillerød has been set up as a hospitality plant, in there definition this is purely processing bedding, processing roughly 65,000 pieces per day.
We were given a presentation on the plant again with the emphasis on the staff. After this we were taken on a tour of the plant from sorting through to packing, on the tour we were shown a board that held all of the information that was needed to run the plant that day, this information included the amount of pieces needed to fulfil the orders for that day, targets for the day including utility’s, any information on issues within the plant and information on shift handover. This board was a key part of the day to day running of the plant and was used in various meetings throughout the day.
Berendsen Roskilde – Hospitality
We met with Jørn Jørgensen – Plant manager, again we were given a presentation on the plant, Rosklide is again a hospitality plant but this time predominately table linen and napkins including a secure unit for processing linen for the airlines flying in and out of Copenhagen airport , processing roughly 50,000 pieces per day
We were invited to have a tour around the plant with Jorn and Peter Strarup – Production Trainee, as we were shown round there was a new six lane small piece ironer line being fitted allowing faster processing this formed part of their progression for efficiency and throughput.
While on the walk around we were shown the first phase of putting RFID tags into the table linen allowing them to keep track of linen more effectively, we were talked through all of the stages including the development of the software to manage the RFID tags, the instillation of the tags within the linen, registering of the linen/tags on the system and the means of managing the linen at various points throughout the laundry process. As a whole once this system is fully up and running it will allow them to track linen efficiently and automatically flag up losses and pinpoint damaged linen. The system will also allow an added service to the customer for stock taking and linen management.
Wednesday 26 April Berendsen – Ølsted Plant – Healthcare
On the Wednesday morning we met with Jacob Petersen – Plant Manager. Ølsted is purely a healthcare plant servicing private and government hospitals producing roughly 50,000 pieces per day. The presentation we were given went into detail about the RFID system that they have in place, there are a few steps ahead of the Roskilde plant, they are able to track the linen to the hospital stockroom and keep track of the usage allowing them to change the stock levels accordingly, this adds a service where Berendsen can manage the stock taking the responsibility away from the customer, as well as tracking the linen at various points through the laundry process.
Again we were given a site tour from Jacob and Hans Christensen – Production Manager with an in depth tour of the plant including the full basement where massive amounts of stock were held ready for replenishment. Although Jacob and Hans had been there less than 12 months combined, they knew exactly what was needed and where they needed to be in terms of running the laundry.
It was evident that again the emphasis was on the staff and constantly educating them and providing what they need to succeed.
While these are plants a generally small compared to some of the larger plants within the UK, each plant specializes in its own part of the industry, allowing them to concentrate on efficiency and quality within their sector.
One of the other questions I asked was on the location of the laundries, as the three laundries were about 40+km away from Copenhagen where roughly 80% of the customers were based, this is historical and more efficient as land for building is cheaper out with Copenhagen. When asked about this I was told “The long term plan would be to make one super laundry but for now it works just fine”
In summary it is evident that the core values are meaningfully put into place and maintained, with the main emphasis on the staff and showing them that they are part of the end users experience giving them a view of what goes on outside the laundry.
Berendsen is a healthy, safe and attractive workplace where there is room for all regardless of background. Therefore, they focus on the improvement of physical conditions and wellbeing of the employees. At the same time Berendsen are constantly working to attract, motivate and retain good employees through networking, training and annual satisfaction surveys.
The key seems to be efficiency this includes constant review of processes and management of people to maintain productivity, this is evident in the investment in machinery including pre-planned maintenance through to the investment in staff training.
It was also interesting to see each laundry take on refugees from the recent and ongoing issues in the Middle East, they are greeted with open arms and allowed to attend language/life schools that have been setup within the laundries to allow them to transition smoothly into everyday life in Denmark.
In comparison to the UK the culture and attitude towards staff and end users is massively different although not unattainable. In the UK I don’t think we are looking at the bigger picture and treat it as a process where it is evident that in Denmark it is treated as a service with emphasis on staff and customer. The service they offer goes over and above the initial laundry process by adding bolt-ons including supplying house keepers to manage hotel stock rooms to pre-packaging cages ready for each floor in the hotel.
I would like to thank our hosts for the hospitality and accepting us, also for the in depth information and for answering all of our questions, as a whole I can see this experience being of benefit to myself in the future.