Imagine what it would be like having a robot dry and press a shirt straight from the washing machine in 30 seconds.
It’s a key piece of equipment at the ACS Clothing warehouse in Lanarkshire where the aim is to repair and clean clothes as quickly as possible.
The sustainable fashion brand provides a rental service, working with brands who offer monthly subscriptions to customers.
There are more than three million garments in the 200,000 square-ft purpose-built warehouse with clothes flying from department to department on what’s known as ‘the wave’.
Raymond Alan O’Donnell is a trainee operations manager and has worked at the company for five years.
He approaches each day like he’s “solving a puzzle” as he navigates processing thousands of orders, for several brands, every day.
“All of our systems are automated.
“Yes, we have input in them for sort of sending down what we want, but after that it’s still automated and it still amazes you as to how quickly it all does it and how efficiently it all does it.
“When it’s going through our sorters, when it comes to them for packing, it’s all in order, for that order, and there’s thousands of orders so each and every time it’s right and it’s spot on,” he said.
The warehouse stocks clothes from several different brands all under one roof.
There’s a sophisticated IT system which allows the teams to keep track of what item is where.
Gilroy Francis Rocque, team leader, said: “When each garment comes in it gets scanned in so there’s a track of every garment that is in and out.
“It’s so well organised that even when I was a new staff member, it was not too difficult to understand because there is a process in place which helps us know everything, where each garment is.”
Around 45,000 garments are cleaned each week by the skilled team led by Angela Grant.
She said: “I’ve got to make sure that I go and check what needs done first in the laundry department and also in the cleaning department and then I set out a routine and I put my staff on to do whatever needs done first.
“Everybody knows their own roles.”
The sniff test is one of the more unusual roles but crucial to ensuring quality control.
The company also repairs damaged returns sent back to retailers, allowing them to be resold.
It’s a circular business model the company has been running since 1997.
Andy Rough, CEO of ACS Clothing Limited, was frustrated that the fashion industry wasn’t more on the agenda at the COP26 climate conference.
He said: “It was very much talking about utilities and transportation, but fashion is one of the industries that creates the most pollutants in the world.
“Being able to enjoy fashion but enjoy fashion in a different way which has less of an impact on the environment is the way to move forward.”
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