Maintenance & Mechanics Are Vital Role For Plant Owners

So…who does the maintenance and mechanical repair at your plant? Most operators do their own. In the days gone by, at small “Mom & Pop” plants, the owner did all repairs and updates himself. Why? Generally they all had mechanical aptitude and could not afford a mechanic. Mechanics specializing in drycleaning plants were not out there for the most part – like today. Large, bigger operations would have a skilled drycleaning and laundry plant mechanic that took care of multiple operations for one owner. These huge plants are far and few between now. Most of us are small operators, not necessarily in dollar volume but by physical size. The shift from large central out of town plants condensed and moved to the shopping centers in the 1960’s. There are many other reasons for the shift, but too many to list here. You fellas that have been around as plant owners since the 50’s and 60’s know what I am talking about.

Who Can Afford To Do Their Own Maintenance And Repairs?

I find myself quoting past icons like Bill Seitz, Stan Caplan and Stan Golomb these days. Stan once wrote, “Operator maintenance is critical.” That sounds serious to me – vital – as said in the title of this article. Stan goes on to list page after page of items that need daily, weekly, monthly and annual maintenance. We’ve all seen the lists printed here and there and I once did many seminars on Maintenance and would pass out lists. There are other sources available as well. Drycleaning & Laundry Institute (DLI) has many bulletins on maintenance and repair. But who can afford the time and grief to do their own maintenance and repairs?

Who can afford to do their own repairs I mention – because aside from the costs, not many plant operators today know how to do maintenance and repairs or else just don’t cotton to that sort of thing. Today’s operators are the computer age people and maintenance and repair is as far from their mind as riding to the moon. Most are not willing to pay someone who knows what they are doing. A fella like Jeff Schwartz of A.L. Wilson Chemical Co. grew up on a farm of barbed wire and tractors. We figured out how to take things apart and figure them out.

In the old days, we could not afford to hire someone to do maintenance. We simply could not afford it. Only the big boys could. Unfortunately though, maintenance men were not utilized, as they should have been. Maybe you have a favorite “go-fer that does a little of everything in the plant including maintenance. The point being that there should be a designated person that fixes things when they break and that same person should be performing routine preventative maintenance. That is the real key to maintaining your equipment.

A personal inspection by the owner – operator or plant manager is essential. Staying on top of the game means to monitor that designated maintenance person. He could be your custodian/maintenance guy. Never, ever, overlook the preventative part of your maintenance program. If it is practical, Saturday is a good day for this person to check all machines for air leaks, etc., while there is no other noise to interfere. You can hear where all the leaks are coming from. Every single moving part including steam traps should be checked. If Saturday were a production day, then late afternoons or evenings would work. Point being that there should be a Mr. Mechanic on board at all times. This cost savings method will keep down those unexpected expenses for something breaking that no one has looked at or maintained since it last broke down!

Good Maintenance Makes Good Sense

As a plant owner, I would want to be intimately familiar with every single piece of equipment in your plant. Starting at the boiler room, know your every department and what is in it in the way of mechanical stuff. Right down to the exhaust fans. Many an operator will not do winter maintenance and those are the things that break down at the worst possible times. Is there anything more critical than for the boiler or drycleaning machines to go down on a Monday morning? All because someone was not designated as the weekend maintenance man. Someone once said, “good maintenance makes good sense.” I’m sure I am quoting some jolly fellow from the drycleaning past but I can’t remember which icon wrote that. I believe it was the Drycleaning Institutes (DLI) head of maintenance and they still write an occasional bulletin on plant maintenance. Check it out. You very much need DLI in your life.

In this day of fancy names for department heads, in a big operation I suppose that maintenance guy would be in the engineering department. I know the engineering department is where the maintenance comes from in huge laundry and drycleaning hotel departments. Now we have not even touched on the government’s role in maintenance. OSHA has a very keen eye on what we do because of worker safety. Many things that break in a plant put people in jeopardy of their safety. Always remember that very important factor. Fines for neglect can be serious.

Texas BBQ In Fort Worth

Many of you will be going to the great Texas show in Fort Worth this April. I hope to see some of you there.

I’m headin’ to the wagon now, these boots are killin’ me!

About Kenney Slatten

Kenney Slatten Training Company is a Dry Cleaning and Laundry Consulting Firm Specializing in Environmental Training and Certification. Kenney Slatten Training Company, or KSTC, is based in Texas with offices in Arizona and California. Kenney Slatten is a certified instructor/trainer for the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute (DLI), is actively involved in the San Diego Drycleaners Association, the California Cleaners Association, is an Allied Trade board member of DLI, the Executive Director of Western States Drycleaners & Launderers Association, a member of the International Drycleaners Congress, and a columnist for American Drycleaner and Western Cleaner and Launderer magazines. The Kenney Slatten Training Company provides the only complete environmental training and inspection process. Started in 1987, Kenny became the first instructor for California E.P.A, OSHA, and state regulations. Kenney publishes a 36 point plant requirement every year in trade publications which is his guide for plant training and certification. We are the only company that provides dry cleaning and laundry specific environmental training. Kenney Slatten is a third generation drycleaner/laundryman from Houston, Texas. His company, KSTC, can teach you the skills you need to have a successful plant. His wagon is found all over the country parked under a tree just waiting for the next call to come to your plant. He can be reached at (800) 429-3990; e-mail: or go to: www.