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Mission Linen & Uniform Service – Chino, CA

Automated Garment Sorting

Softrol’s SoftSort Autosortation System reduces Mission’s sort labor by 77% plus an additional eight FTE’s, and sorts 3,500 garments per hour.

Situation:
Mission Linen & Uniform Service operated an out of date and labor intensive automatic garment sortation system. They required an alternative that could deliver better reliability and the labor savings that should be expected from such equipment.

Objective:
The goals for system implementation were increased throughput, decreased labor, and reduced maintenance of the existing system.

Results:
Softrol installed a fully-automated dual-induct SoftSort Autosortation System with 34 Primary Storage Rails and 54 Final Sort Wearer Rails, configured to provide a throughput of up to 3,500 final-sorted pieces per hour. Implementation resulted in a labor savings equivalent to 18 full-time employees. The SoftSort installation also opened up new floor space in the plant for expansion of the stockroom.

Project Details:
Mission Linen & Uniform Service operated an autosort system requiring 13 operators to run during two shifts in order to keep up with production. The system was “carrier-based”, meaning that all garment hangers had to be inserted into a special unit in order to be transported by the sorting system’s conveyors: reliable operation of the system required a modification and reinforcement of every carrier before it was put into service, thus adding to the labor required to keep the system operational.
Softrol designed a system that could be operated by three employees: one operator would oversee the Primary Sort operation; a second would oversee the Final Sort operation; a third would monitor transition of goods from the autosort system to the route storage trolley system. SoftSort conveyors transport garment hangers without the need for carriers, eliminating the hardware and maintenance previously required. Softrol also contracted for design of a mezzanine that would provide two significant benefits: the SoftSort System could be installed without interference with any existing operation, including the original autosort system; when the SoftSort installation was complete, the original sorting hardware could be removed and free up valuable square footage in the plant.
Installation of the system resulted in a significant labor savings. A reduction in hours for 18 full-time employees was realized throughout the plant. Labor was obviously reduced in the sorting area, but other departments in the plant (e.g.; washaisle, tunnel hanging, etc.) also realized a savings, because of the added flexibility in scheduling goods through the plant: part of the SoftSort design is to create “buffer” space prior to the sorter, so that garments can be staged between operations in the plant. The payback on the system – originally calculated at under five years, using only the reduction in sorting labor – was further accelerated, thanks to the labor reductions elsewhere in the plant.

Izzy Castro, Mission’s Director of Engineering, says, “In addition to significant labor reductions and increased throughput the reliability and technical support have made this transition seamless.”
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