Urzinger Laundry - a masterpiece of productivity f business life was an exact parallel to human life then, when a person gets to be 100 years old, some slowing down and reduction in daily activity is inevitable. However, if you are a business managed and controlled by the fourth generation of the Urzinger family, then the pressure on the gas pedal is actually increasing as this 115-year-old laundry business continues to grow revenue, increase its customer base, reduce its energy costs and implement major systems investment on a regular basis.
Fifty year growth This is a remarkable industrial laundry business story, which illustrates the level that a familyowned enterprise can attain when it maintains a clear focus on its goals. In this case, that focus is to deliver innovative solutions linked with customer service by responding effectively to their constant need for service solutions. This is a substantial business brought about by the ability of Urzinger management to deliver on its corporate goals. Urzinger’s success is based in part on a durable and lasting partnership with its principal laundry machinery and processing systems solutions supplier, Kannegiesser GmbH. Urzinger Textile management traces its history to 1897, the year it was founded by Maria Fisch in Landshut, some 40 miles north of Munich in Bavaria, Germany. As a domestic laundry, the Fisch business prospered. Maria’s husband and their daughter- also Maria - continued to build the business after her mother’s death in 1919. In 1924, Maria married Josef Urzinger and the general
upward climb of the Fisch laundry business continued through 1950, when the business changed its name to Urzinger Laundry, thus reflecting the reality of its ownership. New benchmarks From 1950 and through the next five decades, Urzinger Laundry grew steadily and expanded its production facilities on its current site. By 2003, the company had reached a processed work output of 22.4 million lbs annually. From that year onward, processing volumes and demand for Urzinger services in general increased rapidly. The last decade has seen the site in Landshut being developed almost to the limit of its spatial potential. The
roughly steady at 1,700/1,850, but by 2012, this number had risen to 2,350—and it continues to expand. More customer demand translates into a need for more capacity for processing and more pressure on energy supply and costs, as well as on the need to employ and train more staff—in a region where there is high employment, resulting in significant labour costs. Between 2000-’05, staff numbers rose steadily to 300 employees. But the growth in demand saw staff numbers rise to over 400 in 2012. The truck fleet also increased to 40 trucks covering 36 routes. In aggregate, these vehicles travel more than two million miles per year. They deliver Urzinger ‘just intime’ services to their customers across Bavaria and southern Germany. During this decade of revenue growth, production achievements as well as rising customer and staff numbers, there were some interesting counter-intuitive results arising from this hugely increased activity, which can be directly attributed to the
This fourth generation German company partnered with its supplier to maximise effective use of limited space. Irving Scott, a freelance writer, takes a look behind the scenes
In 2003-’05, customer numbers were roughly steady at 1,700/1,850, but by 2012, this number had risen to 2,350 – and it continues to expand
annual processed poundage now exceeds 44.8 million lbs. This growth has come from the acquisition of new clients across the wider Bavarian region. Thus, Urzinger stands out among many German industrial laundries. Generally speaking, other facilities have concentrated their commercial services on customers located within 60/70 miles of the plant. By contrast, Urzinger ’s service radius has already extended 120/140 miles from its processing base in Landshut. In 2003-’05, customer numbers were
significant increases in cost control in critical areas of production. While all production and processing statistics were rising rapidly, their downside consequences, which are the usual accomplices of all increased processing activities such as energy usage, water consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, all declined .And they fell with dramatic effect! In 2003 and subsequently, because of a massive investment in new Kannegiesser machinery and systems, as well as a very
significant investment in solar energy capture on the roof of the new production facility, overhead energy costs at Urzinger have dropped by 35 per cent from the figure recorded for 1992. Water consumption is down by 45 per cent and CO2 emissions are down 40 per cent. These are startling figures, and they underscore the contributions to laundry processing efficiencies that the partnership between Urzinger and Kannegiesser has produced over the years. Both these companies have a long history of joint endeavours in their quest for increased performance in processing, while reducing costs from all operations in the laundry. Their mutually beneficial policies have resulted in developing systems and solutions in textile processing that constantly set new benchmarks for the international laundry industry. Team redesign The Kannegiesser washing equipment and systems installed up to 2013 include three large tunnel washers – one PowerTrans 75kg with 17 compartments, with large diameter press; one PowerTrans 75kg with 13 compartments and centrifugal extraction; and one 85kg PowerTrans Plus with 16 compartments. Cost-reducing machinery systems in heat recycling, water recycling and general space saving may all have a disproportionate effects on the production and financial performances of several industrial laundries. The entire site at Urzinger illustrates these systems in some profusion and perhaps most graphically in the installation of several separate units of Kannegiesser ’s Aero transport system. This overhead vacuum transport system moves large quantities of linen from one workstation to another across long distances in the plant. Because of existing machine positions in the original building, newly washed work from the tunnel washers is extracted and then moved to the dryers via the
Loading point for sortation system. Note that mixed hanger types are randomly sequenced – delivery on hangers to the garment dispensing system, or on collapsing hangers to automatic folding robots. This is a ‘wet to dry’ operation, from centrifugal extractor directly to the finishing system steam tunnel without intermediate conditioning or any drying process
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vacuum transport system. Conveyors feed the pick-up stations for the vacuum transport system automatically from the presses and the work, in 100lb lots, is delivered overhead to the appropriate workstations. The site occupied by Urzinger is almost built to its maximum capacity. The installation of equipment in 2012 involved building what amounts to a complete new laundry between two older buildings already in use.
The new building comprises some 45,000 square feet of floor space on three levels. Eight new dryers are on the top level with automatic loading and unloading and the middle floor contains three roll ironers fed by automatic sheet feeders handling a mixed flow of flatwork. The ground floor also has ironer production using two roll machines and other handfed ironers. Space was and is at a premium in the plant, and this has led to
creative solutions in the monorail system. A recently introduced Supertrack Robolift vertical elevator system was installed to take the 150lb bags to and from each floor in the new building. Requiring only two square yards of floor space, the Robolift is a complete, combined, turntable and bag-hoisting system for the monorail, which dispenses with the need for a large track-work system, while saving floor space. Driven as it is by customer
demand and the extra impetus of the competitive market in the immediate area surrounding Munich, Urzinger has always pursued a policy of installing the latest and most efficient laundry machinery. This policy collides with real-time practicalities when space is also a significant pressure point in the laundry. Kannegiesser ’s extensive background in plant development, coupled with the experience of Urzinger’s director of operations,
Nicolai Rameder, facilitated the application of the best ideas for creating a very efficient plant. Rameder is a 33-year veteran of advanced laundry operations and their management systems. The results of this combined expertise has set a new benchmark for operational excellence in upgrading a laundry in constricted space with minimal interference in actual ‘live’ processing during the year-long, 2012 installation programme. This led to very productive end results. Creative solutions As the investment at the Urzinger Laundry demonstrates, it’s sometimes better to make more effective use of an existing site than to contemplate the upheavals of transferring across town to a supposedly low cost ‘flat’ site. Kannegiesser has developed specific expertise in creating highly efficient processing layouts inside apparently unpromising older installations, where perhaps one or more difficulties with ceiling heights, heights between bays, boiler plant locations and multiple other on-site situations made an efficient working solution seem unlikely at first glance. Energy saving is no longer an environmental issue, since it has
been re-evaluated as a beneficial cost-control issue, in common with almost all other management considerations. Laundry plant investment should be seen as a series of steps from where you are now until you arrive at a near perfect finish. Short steps in the modernisation chain will achieve greater-than-anticipated results. In the final analysis, managers should avoid being frustrated by their old building and its constricted space. Ideally, they should consider a clever redesign of the workflow, moving a machine, or even several existing machines and then installing new technology. Any of these graded steps might well deliver a much greater productive It seems obvious to this observer that the Urzinger Laundry, in its current configuration and delivering the volumes it’s now producing, is the result of two experienced laundry engineering teams working as partners to achieve success for customers, staff and machinery and systems suppliers. The Urzinger family business provided the canvas on which, they - together with Kannegiesser - drew up creative solutions to complex processing and logistical problems. These solutions are working extremely well for everyone involved.
This article was previously published in Textile Services magazine, USA and is reprinted with kind permission
Nicolai Rameder, the director of operations at Urzinger Textilmanagement, has 33 years in laundry design and management. He is a key driver of the latest Urzinger improvements
The fourth generation in charge of the Urzinger destiny since 2010: Dagmar Urzinger, Claudia Urzinger Woon, Annette Urzinger Judenhofer
A Passion for the family business In a telephone interview with Claudia Urzinger Woon subsequent to the visit to Landshut, Germany, Irving Scott discussed the operational and management philosophies that have served as guiding principles of the Urzinger laundry business throughout its 116 year history. Highlights of that discussion appear below. “We were all very much children of the business. We grew up with laundry operations as part of our everyday lives. Our father, Paul Urzinger, actually ‘retired’ from the day to day management of the business at the end of 2011, but he is very much still a ‘presence’ here. And while we are definitely in control of the management of the company, our parents are still very much ‘on hand and available’ for any situation which might develop. “Although it is perhaps unusual for a laundry business the size of Urzinger to be controlled by three sisters, you must remember that this business was begun in 1897 by a woman, our great grandmother. Her daughter also continued in the business after her marriage, as did our mother in the third generation, so we do not see our custodianship of the business as being at all unusual. “Annette, my eldest sister, was always interested in the production side of the business. She started work here after leaving school at 16. Then, after an apprenticeship and further training and work experience in another business, she took charge of the overall production management. “Our other sister, Dagmar, after working as a legal assistant in a solicitor’s office in Landshut, came to join the laundry in the administrative section, before finding her true vocation, working in the sales department. This she really enjoys, and she looks after all our large customers personally and very successfully, as you can see from our growth in the recent years. “I went to university and first became a teacher, but always spent every vacation working in the laundry, just as my sisters always did. I then took a postgraduate degree in management at Regensburg University and then worked in a large advertising agency before joining the family in the laundry. We all share a passion for the family business along with that of our parents, and this feeling means that we are totally committed to the continuing success of the business. We do believe that it is a genuine pleasure to be here, and that this feeling is transmitted to our work colleagues so that they feel a valued part of the success. “We try very hard to make our staff colleagues feel valued, as Landshut is in the heart of a very competitive labour market. We provide many incentives for the staff, including shopping and retail
vouchers for good work attendance that can be ‘spent’ in Landshut in many shops. We provide ‘free fruit’ days in the plant when fresh fruit for healthy living is given to the staff. We also have weekly visits from a professional physiotherapist to give treatment, including massage to any of the staff with muscular pains and strains.” When I enquired about the Urzinger business plans for further development on the site, Claudia told us that the question was always at the forefront of the sisters’ thinking. “We have to concentrate on continuous improvements to our efficiency and always to try to reduce our energy costs as well as usage. We will be expanding the photovoltaic (solar energy) systems to more parts of the plant roof, and we will enlarge our rainwater capture capacity by building a large, recycling storage tank in the basement of the new building we are erecting to enable a more efficient packout and customer dispatch department.” Claudia continued, noting that: “This is a 25,000 square metre site, and we are currently building additional space to accommodate the enlarged dispatch department, which will come into operation in September. We do recognise that we cannot keep growing at the present rate indefinitely. Apart from anything else, there is a limit to the detailed level of management the three of us can give to a very much larger production area, without some aspect suffering in consequence. We believe in high quality production and high quality customer service; we would never expand beyond our ability to continue to deliver these key service requirements.” These comments—coming directly from one of the three members of the fourth generation of the Fisch Urzinger family that now control the family business— underscore the overwhelming feeling of dedicated business acumen and performance that the plant visit to Landshut gave. This is the personification of the unquestioned ability that a dedicated, and above all, passionately committed family team can bring to a business in a very competitive market. It’s also a brilliant example of how well a team of three strong minded sisters, backed by a strong family heritage, can deliver the best possible results in what might usually be considered a male-dominated and traditional service business.
From here on in—everything is in the air
ABOVE: Supertrack ‘ROBOLIFT’ serves several levels of monorail storage and feeds or lifts bags from varying route storage line angles on the system RIGHT: Top deck location for eight dryers 30 feet above the shop floor. Above is an automatic loading track work and sling bags
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