CHICAGO — In the hot summer months, many dry cleaners add cooling equipment to keep employees comfortable, with the majority (67.7%) of respondents believing their investment in these fans and cooling systems has paid off in terms of employee morale and productivity, according to the results of this month’s American Drycleaner Your Views survey.
Only about one-fifth (21.5%) of respondents say they are unsure if their investment has paid off, while 10.8% say their investment in cooling equipment has not paid off.
The responding dry cleaners use these types of cooling equipment: portable fans (66.2%); swamp coolers (47.9%); air conditioning (19.7%); spot-cooling systems (19.7%); and portable evaporative coolers (16.9%). While 5.6% say they use “none” of the equipment listed, some (9.9%) say they use “other” methods, such as exhaust fans and power roof vents.
Although the majority of dry cleaners polled use cooling equipment, 72.6% have not added new machines this year. Portable fans are the most popular among respondents, as 14.5% have recently added them to their facility. This is a large number compared to the few who have added air-conditioning units (3.2%), swamp coolers (6.5%), spot-cooling systems (3.2%) and portable evaporative coolers (4.8%).
Another method for keeping employees comfortable is to adjust production schedules. Nearly half (47.9%) of respondents have made temporary changes, like starting shifts earlier and rotating workers to different stations, while the majority (52.1%) say they do not follow this practice.
Among the responding cleaners who adjust schedules, the majority say they have their staff work early in order to leave early, which allows for an overall cooler workday.
Some respondents specified how much earlier workers start; about an hour earlier than usual is typical. One dry cleaner even reduces his/her production schedule to only four days per week. Another said that working after dark also helps to reduce the plant’s heat.
Water is definitely important when it comes to working in warm conditions. One operator said he/she encourages workers to take “more water breaks (to rest in air-conditioned break room), or [they’ll] end early on a very hot day.” Another emphasized “[making] sure there are water coolers available.”
While American Drycleaner’s Your Views survey presents a snapshot of the trade audience’s viewpoints, it should not be considered scientific. Due to rounding, percentages may not add up to 100%.
Subscribers to American Drycleaner e-mails are invited each month to participate in a brief industry survey they can complete anonymously. The entire trade audience is encourage to participate, as a greater number of responses will help to better define owner/operator opinions and industry trends.