At Oxwash, we have been pushing game-changing innovations in sustainable laundry technology and urban transport logistics for over a year now, heaping up accolades and industry awards to testify to our passion for making a difference and commitment to keep breaking new ground. Our project has entered an exciting new era in recent weeks with the arrival of Richard, our processing manager, and our incredible new machines. Today I spoke to Richard to find out more about his new role, his hopes for the future, and what it means for Oxwash and the laundry industry as a whole.
Oxwash: Hi Richard, how have your first couple of weeks been?
Richard: They have been fantastic, and I've really enjoyed the range of training I've undertaken - learning everything about our new chemical products, the mechanics of the machines, and our environmental focus - as well as the opportunity to get stuck into our day-to-day operations. It has also been great to be able to go out and see some other laundries of different sizes to get a better idea of the technologies and practices we will be looking to disrupt. Coming from a small commercial laundry, this has been a very eye-opening and fruitful learning process so far, and we will look to learn from our competitors' successes as well as their mistakes.
One of the first challenges I have been tackling has been the through-flow of work. As this is a small unit, we will look to optimise how items come into and out of the processing and racking areas, and avoid the pile-up that often happens in other laundries. Being strict on organisation should smooth out the logistics at every part of the chain, and ultimately makes us more reliable for the customer too. I think there are various reasons that our competitors have often not optimised these processes - time constraints, neglecting to update out-of-date processes as the business grows, and often being larger organisations that struggle to maintain a company-wide drive to improve. I think we've got a great opportunity here at Oxwash to try to create something different.
Oxwash: How did you get into working in laundries?
Richard: I had previously been doing office-based work before I took a supervisor's job at Burford laundry some years ago. It was a good opportunity to do something new and different. It went very well for me, but that drive to improve myself and the industry eventually pushed me to look for something new and different again. Oxwash appealed to me as a small, dynamic, and enthusiastic company with a strong drive to make positive changes. At Oxwash, you really feel that if you suggest improvements to be made, those suggestions will be welcomed with open arms, and Kyle and the team will make them happen. The key as the business grows will be to keep that flexibility and team mentality a core part of how we work. As we look to expand to other cities, the finer details of the operation may need to be tailored to the location, but the core organisational structure will remain. I share the vision of 'Oxwashes' spreading out to cities all over the country.
Oxwash: I felt exactly the same when I joined Oxwash, and it is exciting to know that that ethos of constant improvement still permeates the company. What excites you about the future?
Richard: Obviously getting the washers going is exciting, and they are clearly fantastic pieces of kit. I think that the model Kyle has chosen here fits the location perfectly: catering to small commercial and domestic customers, who will be easily reachable on bikes, and we now have the perfect size and number of machines to serve them.
Using the new Integrated live data management software has also been a revelation: we have a live feed of solvent level and temperature, pH, spin speed, and numerous other metrics from all of our machines. This is advanced technology that I haven't seen in any other laundry I have worked in, and this data science approach to the washing process will allow us to really focus on getting the most effective wash and getting the most out of our innovative chemical products, while optimising out environmental impact. It's innovation of this calibre that shows that Oxwash is serious about walking the walk on sustainability as well as talking the talk.
In the short term, I will be focusing on getting all of our processes here exactly right - efficient, scalable, and eventually replicable. Once we've trimmed the fat from our process, the sky is the limit of what we can achieve.