Getting Smart With: Safety

Safety First is more than just the catchy slogan we were taught when we were younger. It’s something that businesses practice when they place warning labels on their products; it’s something our teachers taught us when they told us not to run with the scissors; it’s what our parents instilled in us when they wouldn’t move the car until your seatbelt was on.

At Plymate, we take safety just as seriously. That’s why we were recently able to celebrate over 365 days without a lost-time accident.  How is that possible? It’s possible because we make safety a priority.

We do more than just slap posters up on the walls warning people to watch their step. We have an interactive safety training program headed up by a Safety Committee to ensure things are up to snuff according to OSHA and Plymate Standards.

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Why is it important to create a safe work environment? It’s been proven that employees are often happier with a safer work environment. There’s less stress involved in their day to day jobs, and they often feel more valued. From an employers’ standpoint, a safe work environment means less time an employee is out with injury, less workers comp, and ultimately ensures less business cost.

Here are some ways we ensure a safe work environment that helped us achieve 365 days without a lost-time accident:

  1. Create a Safety Committee!
    1. The committee should be comprised of employees from all departments and levels of the business
  2. Conduct regular safety checks
  3. Have all new hires complete an extensive safety training course specific to their role
  4. Identify potential hazards within the facility, such as new equipment or building Expansion areas
  5. Enforce safe driving practices to anyone driving a company car
    1. All of our service vehicles have an in cab coaching system called InThinc which helps coach safe driving practices
  6. Investigate all accidents to see what could have been done to prevent it and what can be changed to prevent future accidents

Doing Our Part To Help

The end of summer 2017 was a trying time for some of our fellow Americans. As we all know, 3 hurricanes hit 3 different American locations in as many months. Here in Indiana, we know the destruction a tornado can cause, and can only imagine the devastation of a massive hurricane. Our hearts were, and still are, hurting for our friends, family, and fellow citizens in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico who lost everything.

In an effort to help, our co-workers organized a pitch-in lunch to benefit the hurricane victims. Homemade goodies and meals were donated and sold to other co-workers for the cause. Between purchased goodies and a 3-to-1 matched donation by Plymate, Inc., we were able to give a sizable donation to the Red Cross. This is in addition to individual donations made to various organizations throughout surrounding counties, whether those donations were monetary or physical.

We would also like to take a moment to recognize one of our peers, Ace Image Wear, who has a location in Texas that was affected by Hurricane Harvey. A donation by Plymate was also made to help them with their rebuilding process.

Many in Puerto Rico, Texas, and Florida are still in need. If you feel compelled, please consider donating to www.redcross.org download

Thank you to our co-workers and Plymate, Inc. family who helped our fellow Americans in their time of need. You are what makes Plymate the company that it is today.

Meet Tim

Here at Plymate, we believe that the resources and training we allocate to our Large Account Specialist Service Representative allows us to provide our top customers with a unique and customized array of services.

You already know that we value our small-town, family owned company.

You know that Plymate provides you with top-notch uniform and mat services. But did you know that we’ve been around long enough to be your grandfather? Or in some cases, your great-grandfather?

Just like your grandfather, or great-grandfather would say, we’ve been around the block a time or two. We know what works and doesn’t work. Our age provides us with loads of wisdom and knowledge about our industry. So as a result, we find ourselves doing things our competitors can’t, don’t, or won’t do.

One of the things we’ve learned in our old age is that having a service representative dedicated specifically to our large accounts makes a difference. We astutely named that position our “Large Account Specialist”, and that Large Account Specialist is Tim Shepherdson.

Your Large Account Specialist, Tim Shepherdson.
Your Large Account Specialist, Tim Shepherdson.

 

Tim has been part of the Plymate team since 1998. He services 1-3 large account customers per day, versus our regular service reps who make approximately 25 stops per day. This approach ensures that Tim will have the necessary time within each of his accounts to “do all the little things” that can really make the difference.

What are all those little things, you ask? Well, Tim loves to:

  • Dedicate the time and space necessary on our trucks, for your products
  • Know the ins-and-outs of your business so you don’t have to worry about anything when he arrives
  • Save you money by reviewing invoices frequently to update them according to turnover
  • Deliver key employees extra services such as placing shirts in their offices
  • Conduct uniform fittings as needed
  • Clean out lockers
  • Meet and create relationships with you and your employees for a better all-around experience

In addition to all the things that Tim provides you with as your Account Specialist, you also get a dedicated support team from our office. Behind Tim, you’ve got: 1 dedicated Director of  Service, 1 dedicated District  Manager, 1 dedicated Route Specialist (should Tim be off work  for any reason), 2 dedicated support staff members in our home office, 3 dedicated Plymate family members available to help in any way they can.

We know there are plenty of fish in the sea when it comes to your uniform and mat supplier, but why swim with the sharks?

 

 

New Tool Encourages Safe Driving Habits

Auditory cues coach safe driving behavior.

To our customers, the face of Plymate is our service representatives. Their customer service skills, training, efficiency and safety are key to the success of Plymate. Due to the nature of the job, these coworkers are largely unsupervised for the bulk of the day, so in addition to extensive and on-going training, Plymate has implemented a new tool to help monitor driving habits and improve the safety and efficiency of our route service personnel. Inthinc driver safety technology monitors driving performance in order to improve driver safety habits and awareness.

The Inthinc program monitors speed, braking and other key indicators of safe driving, and provides verbal cues to the driver. These verbal cues act as a virtual coach alerting drivers in real time, helping them to adopt safer driving habits. According to Inthinc, a typical company will see an 86% reduction in speeding, 89% reduction is aggressive driving, 90% reduction in accidents and 88% reduction in seat belt violations.

With 18 delivery trucks driving 8,000 miles per week, these types of improvements in safety, efficiency and compliance can have a significant impact on our company and protect our most valuable assets – the people in the trucks.

Is Bigger Better? Let’s look at the numbers.

Usually the discussion about large vs. small business revolves around the “personal touch” or the value of relationships. At Plymate we talk about it too. A lot. And we believe it. But let’s face it, if you can’t measure it, it’s pretty hard to convince someone of the validity.

So let’s look at the numbers and see if we can make a case that Smaller is Better.

The following chart is based upon a survey by Market Measurement, an independent research company:bargraph

These numbers show that smaller, independent textile rental companies perform measurably (and significantly) better than national companies in three key areas of concern for uniform customers. So score a win for Smaller is Better.

So where might being small be a disadvantage? Most people would say “cost of goods” or “buying power.” Good point, but Plymate is a member of the CSC Network, an association of independent laundries, which negotiates pricing for the group. Independents, as it turns out, collectively account for the largest single share of market,  42%. When the Cintas/G&K acquisition is complete, the company will have 31% market share. (Report by North American Equity Research for J.P. Morgan.) So while the big guys are a monster standing alone, the independents combined — not so small after all.

Personal attention, superior service, and competitive pricing – maybe you need to look at the little guy.

RFID Virtually Eliminates Uniform Shortages

We made many equipment upgrades during our recent 7,200 sq. ft. expansion, but our customers will probably notice the greatest impact from our RFID garment tracking process, which allows us to follow a garment from the moment it arrives until it is loaded back on our truck for delivery.

One of the most frequent complaints we hear when talking to prospects is incomplete uniform deliveries, wrong uniforms, and “lost” garments. With our system, those problems are solved before they can even happen.

Here is a virtual tour of how RFID tracking works to help us achieve superior accuracy and efficiency:

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Step 1 – Scan in. As soon as carts of uniforms come off the trucks, they roll into our RFID Portal where as many as 2,000 unique RFID tags can be read in 10 seconds.

 

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Step 2 – Data generated. A report can be created in as little as 15 minutes after the scan is completed, to answer any question a customer might have regarding what garments were turned in that week.
Computer asssisted 1st sort
Step 3 – Computer-assisted sort. After garments are laundered and inspected, the RFID tag enables computer-assisted sorting to streamline and speed the process of sorting garments for accurate deliveries.

 

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Step 4 – Bundle verification. The final scan ensures that garment bundles are complete and sorted accurately for every uniform wearer.

 

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Step 5 – Delivery sequencing. The final stage of sorting puts garments in the correct order for trucks to be loaded in the proper sequence for delivery, another way efficiency is achieved through RFID technology.

Plymate once again is a technology leader in bringing innovation and efficiency to our customers. Let us know how we can help you.

 

Plymate service team receives Performance Matters training

As an organization we have always been committed to ongoing training and employee development. In an effort towards maintaining this focus we have introduced High Performance Training, which is a comprehensive service training initiative written by Performance Matters with the help of industry experts across the country, including our seasoned Service Director Tim Uhlmansiek.

Through a combination of on-route application activities, managerial coaching and ongoing education, a Plymate Service Representative will be empowered to provide an unparalleled level of service to his or her customers. Armed with extensive product knowledge and best-practice service standards, our team will create and harbor a trusting, autonomous relationship with each and every customer. Unique to independent laundries such as Plymate, HPT is one of many tools and processes we utilize to ensure our customers receive the expertise and attention they deserve.

“Do it Better” has always been one of Plymate’s Core Values, and we believe the implementation of this training platform encompasses that very commitment to our valued customers.

Who thinks Plymate is the best? Um, lots of people apparently!

Like most other companies, we say we are the best and we even have customers who provide rave reviews to back up our claim. But admit it, you still have doubts. We can cherry-pick our very best customers and only provide their opinions. What if we asked a large cross-section of our customer base? What if we had a third-party ask the questions just so people are comfortable being honest? Well, we did. And the results surprised even us.
Market Measurement conducted a customer satisfaction study for us. They compared our results to averages established for more than 450 clients, over the past 40 years to see how we stacked up against other business-to-business companies and other businesses in our industry.


 

• Plymate achieved 87% “very favorable.” It is the among the highest ever recorded by Market Measurement. The average for our industry is 69%.
Comparison: 55%-75% of companies in business-to-business achieve “very favorable” rankings
• Plymate ranked 66% “above expectations” for responsiveness to a problem or concern.
Comparison: a typical range for this category is 20%-30%.


 

It is always our goal to improve our results, against both our past rankings and other companies. If you are a current customer, how can we serve you better? Just let us know! If you are a potential customer, we hope to earn the opportunity to demonstrate a higher level of service than you have ever experienced. Call us.

Plymate Finds Energy Savings through Process Analysis

In the Second Quarter 2016 edition of the CSC Network News, Plymate Production Manager Steve Ferguson describes how a careful analysis of the mat wash process helped us improve our product while saving energy. Excerpts from the article:

Mat Drying Time and Energy Consumption

It is an on-going effort at Plymate to look for energy savings and process efficiency without having any negative impact on product quality. At Plymate, floor mat service has been a growing and vital part of our business since 1995. We recently decided to carefully analyse our wash process for floor mat products, in an effort to increase quality and conserve energy. Unlike many of our competitors, Plymate dries our floor mats and we felt there might be an opportunity to improve our energy usage by reducing drying time.

After washing, there is an extraction process to remove excess moisture – like the spin cycle in your washer at home. The conventional thinking is that during the extraction phase, the higher the rotational speed (G’s) produced and the longer the extraction time, the more water will be extracted. While following that practice, we noticed issues with water pockets forming in the mats and wrinkling or rippling of the mats along the bordered edges. In our original formula, 900 lbs of soiled mats were run with an agitated wash, drain, rinse, followed by an 80g low extract, and then a high extract of 180g’s for six minutes.

After some significant testing, we found that we could lower the extraction speed and add a split. The new formula for the same size load is agitated wash, drain, rinse, followed by an 80g low extract, a one-minute shakeout, and second extract again at 80g’s. Using this method eliminated water pockets and reduced the opportunity for the mat to wrinkle or ripple, while doing an even more effective job of extracting excess water, thereby conserving energy by reducing the amount of time needed in the gas-fired dryers.

We found the following measurable improvements and savings with our new process:

1. Eliminate mat wrinkling or rippling by applying less stress and stretching to the mats during the extraction process.
2. Reduce the moisture content of the mats following extraction.
3. Dryer time was decreased by three minutes per load. Our gas consumption was reduced by about 7% from the previous year.
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Steve Ferguson TF

Who cares about MAT ROLLERS?

Plymate is one of very few providers of entry mat services to invest in a specialized piece of equipment to roll our mats for storage and delivery. Your first question may be Why roll mats at all? Several reasons, actually:

  • Better performing mats – If mats are stacked, the mats on the bottom have the nap crushed resulting in a less effective, less absorbent mat.
  • Space Saving – Large mats (we provide mats up to 30 feet long!) would not fit on the delivery truck if shipped flat.
  • Ease of handling – Rolled mats can be easily transported on a dolly or cart, making our delivery process smoother.
  • Delivery and storage efficiency – Rolled mats are easily grouped by size and color for fast, easy sorting in the plant or on the route.

Our new mat roller has several features designed to ensure smooth production and the best outcome:

  • ?????????????????When rolling our longer mats, the top edge is folded over preventing a tight curl on the end of the mat, helping the mat to lie flat on the floor.
  • The twin belts adjust to correct uneven feeding.
  • As the mat is fed onto the rollers, a visual inspection is performed to identify any needed repairs.
  • ???????????????????Most mats are rolled with the nap side out, but longer mats are rolled with the rubber side out so they will unroll easily when delivered.
  • The tighter rolling achieved with the new mat roller prevents the middle of the mat from collapsing, resulting is a smoother mat that is easier to carry.

So who cares about mat rollers? People who want a mat that lies flat, absorbs the most dirt and water, and who appreciate a process that is smooth and efficient. If you really care about our mat roller, we would be happy to demonstrate it for you. And if you care about a company who thinks about excellence and efficiency, give us a call.