Wildman Uniform and Linen - Warsaw, IN
Automated Garment Sorting
A SoftSort Autosortation System Is Installed to Automatically Sort 5,000 Garments Per Day With A 2-Year Payback, Getting Expanded to A Capacity of 15,000 Garments Per Day with Another 2-Year Payback.
Wildman Services in Warsaw, IN, foresaw growth of their uniform rental business and wanted to proactively take advantage of automation for garment sorting. With sorting volume of less than 5,000 units per day that required four to five operators for sorting, they needed (1) a low cost, high quality system that provided an acceptable payback and (2) a system that would fit into the existing floor space.
Wildman wanted to migrate to autosortation in a limited floor space, aiming for an acceptable payback of two years from a system that would provide flexibility for future expansion.
Softrol installed a flexible system eliminating the need for mother-hooks in the limited floor space provided. Reduced operators from four to two and achieved the targeted two-year payback. In addition, other benefits were realized including error-free sorting, no loose pieces, automatic garment tracking and production reporting for management.
Softrol designed a system that provided the perfect fit – both physically and financially. The features of Softrol’s highly flexible configuration, without the need for mother hooks, enabled them to install a system in the tight space available in Wildman’s plant. For additional savings, Softrol engineered a “Hybrid” system, utilizing powered rails where necessary, but taking advantage of less expensive slick rails for primary storage of garments during the sorting process.
Upon startup, one operator monitored the sorter control station, and one operator manned the offload of sorted wearer bundles. Compared to the four to five operators normally required for sorting Wildman’s volume, the investment provided a two-year payback through labor savings alone. In addition, Wildman realized the benefits of autosortation: error-free sorting, no loose pieces, automatic garment tracking, and production reporting for management. Existing Wildman employees were easily trained to operate the hybrid sort system during a one-week training period.
Expansion - six years later…
Wildman’s growth and anticipated continued expansion required additional throughput of the SoftSort equipment.
To meet future need, Wildman needed to triple capacity from 5,000 to 15,000 units per day within the limited space, expanding the existing system. The expansion had a goal of receiving another two-year payback and could not interfere with current plant operations – there could be no loss of production. An additional goal of the expansion was to make use of as much existing equipment – and the investment already made – in the expanded SoftSort system.
A cost-effective system expansion was performed over an extended weekend, providing the additional capacity of 15,000 units per day with an expected payback of two years.
With the continued growth of the uniform rental business at Wildman Services, additional throughput was required from the SoftSort Autosortation System. Their sort volume had already expanded, and Wildman wanted to expand the capacity of the autosort system to 15,000 units per day – three times the amount for which the installation was designed. Space was still at a premium, and Wildman of course wanted to continue to benefit from labor savings by using automation in their sorting process.
Because Softrol’s original system was designed with the ability to expand, the solution was once again extremely cost-effective. Expanding the slick rails used for storage and installing additional automatic conveyors to the existing SoftSort system increased capacity to handle 15,000 garments per day.
Another requirement of the expansion project was that installation of the expansion could not interfere with day-to-day plant operations. Through careful planning, Softrol converted the original system to the larger capacity system over one extended weekend, with no loss of production. By being able to easily add capacity to the existing SoftSort system, Wildman was able to achieve their goals of the expansion with an expected payback of two years.
According to Josh Wildman, President, Wildman Uniform and Linen, he is very pleased with the results of his expanded system. “We were committed to maintaining and extending all of the benefits of our original system: accuracy, efficiency, information management, reduced shortages, lower garment costs, and all accomplished with so few employees”, he said.
Chad Keith, CEO, Softrol Systems, Inc. said, “We knew that meeting the Wildman’s objectives for Phase II of this project was going to be a bit of a challenge but the SoftSort system provided the flexibility and expandability we needed to deliver – exceeding the customer’s expectations.”