With about 50 dispensers installed in 2 years, the Spanish subsidiary of Polytex has a full order book despite the difficult economic situation in Iberia. Equally successful in industry as in the hospital sector, the new generation of garment dispensers from the Israeli manufacturer now can handle garments which are merely folded without any ties or bands.
Installed in the Barcelona General Maternity Hospital in March 2011, the dispenser, thanks to its very compact size, was installed on the ground floor in a small corridor, and assures the supply of garments to 300 employees. The arrival of the dispenser led to a complete renewal of the lockers for the change to a single unisex uniform of trousers and jacket or coat. A measurement exercise was carried out which led to running 6 sizes of jackets, 6 of trousers and 6 of coats. The trousers are in a single length per size, with snap fasteners at the bottom of the legs allowing them to be shortened if required. In total 18 different styles are in use.
Maternity personnel work in 3 shifts. The sets of garments vary among the categories of personnel with 2 to 5 pieces allowed per day. The garments are delivered by size from the private laundry then stocked in a storeroom nearby. One person takes care of dealing with the employees, from 08.00h to 16.00h and ensures the machine is restocked about once a day, which only takes about 10 minutes. The site manager estimates the frequency of changes at about 1 item per day and per employee, but there are neither rules nor hygienists’ recommendations, (and even less an action committee against hospital acquired infections). At Barcelona the dispenser is viewed for the moment as a «commodity», a substitute for a manual locker, without little use being made of the available statistics on the frequency of changes.
There are no magnetic badges, RFID chips or access codes – the Polytex dispenser identifies the employee with the latest technology, by reading his fingerprint. This state-of-the-art system further reduces costs and simplifies the introduction of new users into the system.
No Small or XX Large
Because of the very small area available at Barcelona, the machine installed only has 20 cells (10 upper level, 10 lower level). Each cell enables the storage of up to 60 items, but their limited number does not allow automatic management of «extreme» sizes – S or XXL are handled manually. However this inconvenience is a function of the very small space available at the Barcelona site. The largest Polytex dispensers have 48 standard height cells or 24 double height cells. Dispensers can also be linked to each other if necessary, thus doubling capacity.
Compared to the first generation of machines which required garments to be in a plastic bag or secured with a paper band, now a simple folding which can be done on any folder is all that is required.
The return unit is installed in the same corridor facing the dispenser. It is quite simple because the garments do not have RFID tags, but is perfectly satisfactory.
After 2 years in operation the system is considered to be very reliable and offers a very rapid return on investment because of its attractive purchase price. The assessment of return on investment is made purely on the improvement in the quality of service and the reduction in the number of employees necessary, since the savings from the reduction in the number of garments is made by the garment rental company.