By Dan Rodriguez, Director of Sales and Marketing, Carts and Material Handling, Tank Holding
In Part one of Selecting the Right Laundry Cart, we reviewed why you need different carts for different facilities, we compared bulk and shelf carts, reviewed material considerations and calculated pounds-per-trip. Today we’ll take a look at payload capacity, cart bases, ergonomic considerations, appearance, and we’ll review how to choose a cart manufacturer. Read part one here.
Laundry operators naturally want to stuff as much in each cart as possible and cart manufacturers have responded with quality improvements that accommodate upwards of 1,000 lbs. per cart. The more technologically advanced rotomolders use 3-D solid modeling during the design stage to pinpoint critical load bearing points and engineer the carts with hidden, internal ribs for structural strength exactly where it’s needed. Older carts, when team members overstuff them, for example, can bow outwards causing the shelves to collapse inside the cart and eventually deform the cart’s outer shape. But the more advanced designs offer stronger, rounded corners and reinforcing bars around the perimeter to maintain the shape even when stuffed to the brim.
All about the base
Holding up to 1,000 pounds of laundry also demands a sturdy cart base with equally sturdy casters. In fact, many cart failures can be traced to a base that had weakened over time or to casters that were underspecified and not up to the task.
Just like it’s hard to see the internal rib design inside a modern laundry cart, it’s also hard to see inside a cart base to evaluate one from the next. On most carts, the plastic body is bolted at the bottom to a cart base. This cart base has often been made from plywood or metal and sometimes from plastic. The problem with plywood is it absorbs moisture and rots. Then it cannot hold up the weight required, and nobody enjoys the splinters, either. (never mind the fact that it’s not sanitary)
Metal can be an effective option, however, if the manufacturer is cutting costs and not properly powder coating, it can easily rust. Plastic bases were intended to solve these issues since they are waterproof, smooth and resist bumps and scratches. But historically they haven’t matched the strength and rigidity of the other base materials.
The latest bases, however, encase smooth plastic around strong steel. This integrated base is waterproof to thrive in cart washers, smooth for safety and rigid so it doesn’t bow down in the center.
Casters are critical
As for casters, many of your team members consider them the most important feature. Intended to help the cart roll easier, if the wrong casters are used they can actually make it more difficult to roll. To make sure they roll smoothly, even when fully loaded, consider the flooring surface in your plant, the transit environment, and at the customer’s location.
Will the cart travel well over concrete onto a metal tailgate onto wood onto pavement then onto tile or carpeting – without leaving marks and streaks? Hard rubber caster wheels roll well over a variety of different surfaces. In some cases, where the wheels may come in contact with oils or chemicals, polyurethane may roll smoother and last longer. Since we know that casters must bear the entire weight of both the cart and laundry (and more, if catching from a significant drop), it’s better to over specify than to try to save a few dollars by underspecifying.
A rising platform supports all team members
While we’re designing the ideal cart for your system, let’s say we asked your team members what they care about most in their laundry carts. From our conversations and experience, I suspect they would consider the ability to hold up the large payloads without fail to be a given. After all, why would management put everyone at risk by buying carts that could topple 1,000 lbs. of laundry? Using a sturdy base on high quality casters helps prevent such failures and the potential for injury. Reducing the chances of repetitive motion injuries through ergonomics also demonstrates care for your team while also directly improving efficiency and helping to reduce the number of workers’ compensation claims.
One of the easiest ways to address ergonomics is with spring-loaded platforms that sink as linens are loaded and rise as they’re unloaded to maintain a consistent work position with less bending and reaching. Some bulk cart styles are also available with extra wide front cutouts for easy access. If your system uses shelf carts, the latest carts use a non-removable shelf system that allow the shelves to be converted from the horizontal, clean linen delivery position to the vertical, soiled, bulk return position in a few seconds with just a quick flip. This eliminates the strain associated with lifting and removing the long shelves from the cart.
Laundry operators understand that their laundry carts not only come into contact with their direct customers on a daily basis, but they are almost always present and visible to prospective customers and the general public as well. To that end, your laundry carts need to not only deliver linens but they also need to represent the company’s brand and image in a positive way.
For a company that relies on and prides itself on cleanliness, it’s vital that these laundry carts look clean. Consider how you and your customers will feel as your new carts are pulled through a lobby, a hallway or an elevator in full view of guests, patients and others. Dirty, battered, old carts cause people to question the cleanliness of the contents of the carts. Whether it’s the customer at the loading dock, the hotel guest or the hospital nurse, the condition and appearance of the cart is a direct reflection of the company.
Falling off tailgates, bumping into walls and rolling over curbs with 1,000 lb. payloads can take quite a toll on a cart. But there are several ways to make sure you get choose the right carts with impressive style and visual appeal:
- Start with a sturdy cart that can handle the constant punishment yet still look fresh and new for a long time.
- Look for a modern cart design. Today’s carts offer futuristic style with smooth, rounded exteriors and bases that look as attractive to those in the know as well as to a luxury resort guest.
- Consider the material and color. In rotationally molded carts, the color is molded throughout the cart body. It is not painted on or applied. The color remains visible even after impact, scrapes and scratches.
- Choose a color that matches your company colors or your customers’ company colors. Then, add the matching logo as a molded-on graphic or decal. Your carts will act as proud, visual, rolling, lobby-worth billboards, instead of just being relegated to the service corridors.
- Securely hide the laundry behind a lid and door. Not only does this eliminate the laundry from view but it can also seal odors inside while adding a layer of security. Pay attention to how well the lid and door opens, closes and fits within the cart body. If they’re rotationally molded properly, lids and doors fit flush, protect the contents and enhance the appearance of the cart.
- If an extra measure of security or protection from contamination is needed, then consider a cart cover. These waterproof, weatherproof, vinyl covers encase the entire cart and come in virtually any color custom fitted to each cart. Logos and other graphics can be sewn or applied onto each cover to create the rolling billboard effect.
Who’s behind the cart?
When people buy cars, they often claim their decisions are based on the engine, the gas mileage or the sleek looks. But, more often, the first step is to choose a company they trust to manufacture a high-quality product, stand by it with a solid warranty and respond quickly when service is needed.
It’s just as important to consider a trusted company when buying laundry carts. How long has the company been operating? Do they manufacture with modern, high-tech machines? How many locations do they have and where? How fast can they deliver a big order – or a very small order? Will they send a field sales representative to your plant and allow a test drive before ordering? Will they survey your facility and provide recommendations the help your operation be more efficient and effective? And how about a warranty? Be sure to work with a knowledgeable salesperson who can offer guidance and recommendations when it comes to your cart specifications.
In Part 3 we’ll look at how to select the right plastic laundry cart.
About the Author
Dan Rodriguez is Director of Sales and Marketing, Carts and Material Handling at Tank Holding. Tank Holding manufactures high quality, innovative, and rugged laundry and material handling carts and trucks across several brands including Meese, Maxi-Movers, Dura-Cast, and RMI.
For more information:
Meese: visit www.meese-inc.com call 800-829-4535 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Maxi-Movers: visit www.maxi-movers.com, call 800-275-2436, or email: email@example.com
Duracast: visit www.duracast.com, call 800-683-4116, or email: SalesService@duracast.com
RMI: visit www.rotationalmoldinginc.com, call 310-707-5949 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org