By: Brett Carter
You might remember the classic episode of “I Love Lucy” where Lucy and Ethel are clumsily boxing chocolates that come off of a conveyer belt. It’s one of the most unforgettable comedy moments in television history!
Although it didn’t work out well for Lucy and Ethel, the assembly line system has revolutionized the industrial world since the time it was introduced by Henry Ford. It’s the most efficient way of completing a process from start to finish where there are multiple people involved in multiple stages of a project.
When you’re a company tasked with cleaning hard household items affected by smoke and soot in a fire, you need a super-efficient system. There can be hundreds of items to be cleaned; all of varying shapes, sizes and textures. Regardless of the differences, they all take too long to clean by hand, and you don’t want to keep customers waiting any longer than necessary.
In the past, the items were unboxed and sorted into plastic tubs, brushed, scrubbed and wiped by hand, and then re-boxed and stored. It was a thorough method, but even the most proficient team could only clean about seven boxes per person per day. It was tedious and it was slow.
Many restoration companies are still using that method, but at ServiceMaster by Cornerstone, we’ve recently moved to the next level. Utilizing the assembly line method and an amazing piece of technology called the Fireline System, our team is now able to restore thirty boxes per person per day of hard household items; that’s more than four times the amount they were previously able to do!
The dirty items are unboxed at one end of the Fireline system and sent down the line to the various stages in the cleaning and drying process. Then they are re-boxed at the end of the line. Each team member is responsible for a station along the line. Each set of items moves through the system fluidly, with another set just behind it. When it’s in full swing, it almost reminds you of a graceful dance. We really should set it to music.
What makes Fireline especially quick and efficient is the use of ultrasonic technology and rapid drying chambers. Household items are simply dipped into the cyclonic pre-washer, and then into the ultrasonic cleaner where ultrasonic pulses instantly remove any soot and dirt from the items. They are next moved to the rinse station, and then they are sent to the end of the line to be quickly dried in an enclosed drying tunnel. The entire process takes mere minutes, and in the case of small and medium sized items, several of them can be cleaned and dried at the same time. Also, since items are handled less and not subjected to abrasive scrubbing with brushes, the risk of damage is greatly reduced.
At ServiceMaster by Cornerstone, we’re always on the lookout for the fastest, most efficient ways to serve our customers and get their lives quickly back to normal after a disaster. Fireline is just one more innovative way for us to take customer experience to the next level.