Soft contents cleaning is a visual and user driven production process.  This method allows users to track what needs to be cleaned (and by cleaning method), where it is, how much is being cleaned, where it is being stored, find garments to satisfy rush requests, all while providing a full detailed billable inventory schedule.

The approach minimizes the need for technology (scanning/updating) during the production phase.  

Requirements and Suggestions 

Perform Inventory at the Warehouse:

At the job site, write the name of the insured and the Room Name/Room Number of the room on a tag affixed to a garment bag/box, and just fill it. 

When you get back to the facility, and ready to inventory prior to cleaning or storage, empty the bags - one room at a time. 

Next steps would be based on your desired outcome.  There are two approaches outlined below, starting with the approach which will provide you with an inventory and full tracking through your facility.  

The idea here is to organize all the clothing packed out of a room by the intended cleaning process, and further segmented by load size.  This way, you will know how many "loads" you have based on the cleaning process.  

Setup Box Resource Locations to match cleaning process and billing type.
Set up a box resource with a description matching as close as possible to the cleaning process and the box resource type matching how you intend to bill for garments in that box type.   

Bill for items individually: Regular Box
Bill for items based on weight: Cleaning Box

Here are some examples of an intended cleaning process which you may have: 

  • Wash & Fold -  Colors  (wet wash) (bill by weight; cleaning box)

  • Wash & Fold - Whites  (wet wash) (bill by weight; cleaning box)

  • Clean & Press (dry clean) (bill per garment; regular box) 

  • Clean & Box (wet wash) (bill per garment; regular box)

  • Hand Clean (bill per garment/item; regular box)

Sort/Group based on cleaning process and load size.
Once you have sorted the garments by start to finish cleaning process, you will then have to segment them by load size.    For example, the amount of garments you can fit in a Dry Cleaning Machine, Washer/Dryer (different types for different process), Esporta will vary.    Once you have done this, you are ready to begin inventorying by load size.  

After inventory process, if you are cleaning right away, you can place the load into a rolling laundry basket.  Or, if processing will take place at a later time, the garments can be placed into a garment bag or box.   The idea here is that either rolling laundry basket, garment bag, box, or single large soft content item will have a barcode. 

The Process

Inventory: 

 

Assign a box/bag to the load: Use the Inventory portion (Jobs > Select Job >  Inventory) of the iCat Inventory App to scan an inventory barcode in the Box Barcode button.  From the box options, select a box resource (previously setup) which matches the load type.

Take Pictures:  

For Cleaning Boxes, where you bill by weight/load type, select Content Images, and take as many images as you need, if required, to document the garments being assigned to the box/bag type selected.  Then, take a picture of each garment which is part of that load.   Some contractors forgot this step, and simply make the first picture taken a picture of the weight on the scale (if applicable), to prove the actual weight.  Then enter the Weight by tapping on Add Size icon.  Description is optional here, as all garments are mixed together in one line item.  Save.

For Regular Boxes, where each garment will be billed for individually, photos must only be taken for one individual garment and then saved.  Use the traditional method of adding a description, taking photos, save, then repeating for each item in the bag/box.

Or, use Quick-Shot Inventory, made especially for rapid soft contents inventory.

Quick-Shot Inventory is recommended if A. the user intends on using Fast Catalog, or B. has many same type garments (for example a load of all pants or all shirts). 

  • Scan & Select Box Type, Select Room, 

  • Select Category = Soft Contents (Not required if using Fast Catalog),

  • Select Description (Not required if using Fast Catalog),

Then, at the bottom of the screen, tap on Quick Shot Inventory to turn it on.  Now, tap on Take Photos and begin taking 1 photo of each garment, keeping in mind that each image taken, will become one billable garment line item associated with that box resource/barcode.   Once photos have been taken, select <DONE> to return to inventory screen.  You will see lower left a total quantity of items recorded as a result of the number of images taken.  Press <SAVE> which is depicted in red to add these items to your inventory.

Note: There is an option in the camera mode to take a second picture if required.  Tap on <2ND PIC> and the next photo taken will be associated with the prior image item.  

Processing: 

Processing in a cleaning facility, especially soft contents, is often reliant on visual cues.  It is important to not bog down the process by requiring frequent scans of each garment or location.  As such, this approach allows the production teams to operate without having to scan at each location.  Scanning takes place at the end of the process, during quality control and packaging.  It is of paramount importance that soft contents be grouped by cleaning process (which scopes for the full start to finish process) and load size.

Note: If you are not cleaning right away, place the clothing into a garment bag or box and affix the recently assigned inventory barcode to the garment bag/box.  Once all inventory has been uploaded, use the Contents Production portion of the App to scan and transfer the bags/boxes to a storage area until you are ready to clean.

Empty the clothing of one bag/box/load into a rolling laundry bin.

  • Place the barcode onto the clipboard attached to the laundry bin (or some other similar solution).

Park the laundry bin in front of the machine you are using to clean those clothes. So everyone knows, if an empty bin is in front of a machine, then the clothes in there belong to that bin with that barcode/job.

  • If using machine with several compartments, you can create visual parking spots (perhaps using coloured warehouse floor tape / numbers) in front of the machine to correspond to each compartment in the machine (as in an Esporta).

When washed, place clothes back into the (corresponding) laundry bin (or if moving to a different "clean" bin then transfer over the barcode to the new bin's clipboard) and roll to its next processing destination.  

  • Repeat the process of parking the laundry basket in front of the next processing location.  Your teams will trust this visual method.

  • If the processing location is a Steam Tunnel, transfer the Barcode from the laundry bin clipboard to a clipboard solution on a rolling rack, so that visually, your team knows that the items in the steam tunnel are associated with Bag/Box barcode temporarily clipped to the rolling rack.  

  • If going to a pressing / finishing station, similar to above the barcode can be placed on a clipboard solution which is affixed to a rolling rack, so that once the items have been pressed, they can all go directly to the associated rolling rack.

Mark Soft Contents as Restored
Once the clothing has been dried/folded, pressed, whatever the last step may be, the users will use the Contents Production View (in the iCat Inventory App), to quickly scan the barcode location which has been traveling with this load, and use the action menu to select the Restored Status (if applicable).  This will mark all garments as Restored.  

Note: The user is able to mark individual garments as replacement should they not respond to cleaning.  They can further select each individual garment using the app to transfer them out of the box location.  

Print a Pack-Back Label
In the next step after marking an item as restored, or as a completely different packaging station, the user can scan the barcode on the clipboard associated with the current laundry bin/rack and use the Action Menu to select <Pack-Back Box Label>

Note: It is recommended that use have a brother wifi label printer to be used with the mobile app to print this pack-back label on demand.

This will generate a newly refreshed label outlining the room these garments need to be returned to, who marked it as restored, and who packaged it, along with the job name.

Move to Storage
Then end of a shift, or directly after packaging the cleaned garments, scan the pack-back (or original) barcode and transfer them to a storage rack/location (which all need to be setup).

Summary 

If you start with the above, you can then morph/adjust to fit your needs.  Barcoding each garment is a nightmare and requires humans to scan garments far too many times which will slow production to a crawl while leaving the operations open to increased human errors.

Additional Suggestions: 

  • If you use actual boxes to deliver back laundry by the pound (wash n fold), and the clothing associated with one load takes more than 1 box to package, print additional copies of the Pack-Back Label for each box.  Write the traditional 1 of 3, 2 of 3, 3 of 3 manually on the label.  

  • This method requires processing to be completed in batches, based on an individual load. Jobs can be mixed up in this method, however loads can not be mixed together unless there are individual compartments on a unit such as found in an Esporta Cleaning Machine.

Inventory Only - No Tracking:
At the warehouse, organize one room at a time, everything into billable piles: Shirts, Jackets, Pants, Laundry by the pound, etc. Then use your device to take a picture of the bulk, name it, put the quantity, done.

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