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Zeroing in on technology, people and partnerships

A certification programme administered by Enterprise Singapore paves the way to high productivity and better service for laundry service provider Zero Spot Laundry

The SuperTrack automated sorting and distributing system is one of the technologies that Zero Spot has invested in.

At Zero Spot Laundry, gone are the days when staff had to repeatedly bend over to pick and sort soiled laundry into different bags. 

The laundry service provider introduced a centralised sortation system in 2014 that uses conveyor belts to bring unsorted soiled laundry to waist level. The new technology has significantly improved working conditions for its staff, addressing issues such as strains on the back. According to Zero Spot, productivity has also improved by as much as 50 per cent.

Founded as a small laundry shop with seven employees in 1987, Zero Spot now has a stable of 370 staff — of whom four in 10 are above the age of 50. 

Billed as a market leader in the commercial laundry industry, the company provides large-scale laundry solutions to the hospitality and healthcare sectors. It also provides textile supplies, linen management and consultation services.

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Zero Spot adopted the globally benchmarked Business Excellence (BE) framework in 2017 to enhance its management systems and processes to deliver superior performance. The BE initiative, administered by Enterprise Singapore, lets enterprises review their business practices and develop a strategic roadmap to grow their organisational capabilities.

Since then, the company has obtained the Singapore Quality Class (SQC) and Singapore Service Class (S-Class) certifications issued under the BE framework. These certificates provide a mark of excellence in organisational performance, and help to instil confidence in stakeholders locally and internationally.

The BE framework has helped Zero Spot recognise that technology-driven innovation, a people-centric work culture and partnerships will help withstand challenges such as manpower constraints and fierce competition in the industry. Along with regular management workshops, concepts in the BE framework help to steer the company towards building up a learning and innovative culture, as well as competencies of its staff.

New technology also helps to cut costs and save resources. For example, Zero Spot’s new German-made automatic tunnel washers and dryers have boosted its handling capacity to about 100,000kg daily, while significantly reducing the amount of water used. Compared with other tunnel washing brands, the new tunnel washer machines achieve water savings of up to 70 per cent.

Zero Spot also conducts regular reviews of the chemicals used in the laundry process to lower its impact on the environment. It is working with its utility partner to look into higher levels of water treatment and recycling, explore the use of renewable energy, and adopt cleaner fuels such as natural gas.

While the adoption of new technology has improved ergonomics at the workplace, the staff is also continually upskilled to operate the new machinery. Zero Spot's "technology-driven, people-led" business culture has enabled older staff to continue working longer if they wish.

Through training sessions conducted by major textile players from Turkey and China, Zero Spot also ensures its staff and related stakeholders keep up-to-date on new material production trends in the textile industry.

Mr Andrew Liew and Mr Leon Tan, co-heads of the business strategy and development team at Zero Spot, agree that such partnerships help the company to better advise its customers on their linen or garment procurement process so that their purchases can last longer and save costs in the long run.

Working with a leading logistics and supply chain partner, Zero Spot is starting to digitise operational information such as the quantity and types of items washed and ironed, location and routes of vehicles, and traceability of trolleys and linen. Doing so will help the company plan better and optimise its resources. Digitisation also helps to reduce the amount of paper involved in day-to-day operations.

"As Zero Spot works towards renewal of the certifications in the coming year, we also work to further strengthen our position in Singapore. Guided by the Business Excellence framework, our business model can be the blueprint for our expansion regionally," says Mdm Teo Siew Leng, Zero Spot's executive director.

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