Laundry - The Never Ending Story

February 1, 2023

ESD smock laundering in the electronics market is a common question we find many clients deliberate when reviewing their consumable costing strategy.

As with any decision, laundry options have both pros and cons. Pros include convenience, combined billing and an unburdening of what is perceived to be an "operational headache". The cons list is much longer and includes, though may not be limited to:

ESD smocks are typically rented, not purchased outright.  There are various opinions on the long-term cost associated with this approach, but the total cost of ownership is up to 45% higher when leasing vs purchasing outright.

Data by Action Apparel Inc.

Some factors that could impact these costs include:

  • Delivery and/or Service Charges are impacted by skyrocketing fuel costs.
  • Damage Insurance or Garment "Protection" Coverage
  • Charges to replace "lost" garments
  • Ongoing charges for employees who have since left a company
  • Laundry costs associated with non-utilization
  • Rental Contract "Buy-out" requirements
  • Agressive annual cost increases

Many electronics programs as sensitive to ESD requirements.  Just as a worksurface and wrist straps are qualified for use and verified on a regular basis, so are smocks.  It is only logical that a manufacturer should have the freedom to test and approve the best smock for their specific needs and preferences along with specifying which smock is added to their QPL. It is quite common that manufacturers are guided towards using brands and styles that the launderer has relationships with, which may not necessarily align with the most comfortable or highest electrical quality smocks. Furthermore, the laundry service washes ESD smocks in unfavorable conditions which shorten the electrical lifespan of the garment. As part of a compliant ESD Program, manufacturers test smocks for their electrical resistance. High-heat laundering wears the conductive fibers faster, thereby creating a failure in verification tests and requiring smock replacement much sooner than a no heat wash cycle.

How West-Tech Materials Created Value:

Zahava Zalben, Solutions Specialist, in partnership with Brenda at Northrop Grumman in Woodland Hills, CA conducted an ESD Review.  Through analysis of their smock laundering invoices, they discovered they were being charged thousands of dollars annually for lease and laundry services for employees no longer with the company and “lost” smocks. Additionally, they found many of the additional unrecognized costs, such as fees that had been added onto their billing statement for an unknown period of time.  As part of a cost savings initiative Brenda decided to terminate NGC's contract for ESD smock care and purchase new smocks. Brenda was able to realize further cost savings by vertically integrating their smock laundry.  This initiative has improved their bottom line for over 6 years now.

The logistics of washing in house are simple. Very little time commitment, very long smock life. Smocks look like new for much longer and they have tighter controls over ESD verification tests. No smocks have gone missing and none of them have that fuzzy, aged or worn look. Operators are happier with the lightweight fabric specified and management is pleased with the incredible cost savings. The cost to replace smocks as they reach end of life is negligible. - Brenda

Brenda and NGC have calculated an estimated savings of no less than $100k per year. We hope to have the opportunity to help save you some money too.