SEPTEMBER 2015 NEWSLETTER
Netatmo Remote Dry Room Monitoring System
Since the early days of Cristomar, I’ve been more than interested in tracking the effectiveness of our still dry room. Ambient temperature and humidity has direct effects on the efficiency of the drying process. We are all familiar with the principles of hygrometry, the science and physics of moving moisture. What is more difficult is metering the components of the drying process including the gross square footage, air motion, pile thickness and rug type.
These sorts of attributes can combine to prevent a finished process in a heated overnight dryroom. We are most interested in the most efficient process without sacrificing effectiveness. It’s less desirable to add wet rugs the next day to a dryroom with rugs that are not completely dry yet.
Monitoring equipment in our earliest days in the late 90’s was available, but very pricey and overly temperamental. The research found rather large, hardwired sensors and recording devices that usually required professional installation. Reporting data was limited at best.
Then came the dawn of the Mobile App Age.
Last year, we “Googled” a number of keywords just to see what was out there currently. It is truly amazing that the phrase “There’s an App for that…” applies to practically anything you can think of. Let me present my experiences with Netatmo.
This self-contained monitoring system shows, in our case, dryroom conditions alongside the ambient (plant atmospherics) as well as linked outdoor metrics through a weather channel. The hardware is composed of two stations, one battery operated for portability, and another that plugs in to an outlet. The system communicates over wi-fi to a base office desktop or laptop.
From the office computer, a smartphone or tablet can link over the internet by the Netatmo App to display current and historic conditions, like air quality, temperature and humidity.
In my case, iPhone’s IOS will graph over time the changes in the dryroom environment, giving a picture of efficiency and effectiveness for each days workload.
The data can be stored on the office computer and used in spreadsheets with estimated square footage and rug types to produce a realistic gauge of how we do what we do, and how we do what we do improves or hurts our outcomes.
System setup was a bit dodgy at first. Some of the instructions were less than clear, which I attribute to Netatmo being a French company. Once passwords, privileges and wi-fi connections were successfully completed, it has run seamlessly and continually for more than a year, with the occasional iTunes App updates arriving automatically. One benefit I’ll mention is this: Our five circulation fans are 220V requiring a fused/breaker on/off switch by code. When the occasional electrical surge occurs (by lightning storm, transformer malfunction or any other power interruption) the fans will not re-start when power returns. With Netatmo, I can be sitting at home, listening to the thunder, and checking the noise levels in real time to determine if I need to visit work to re-start the fans in the dryroom. It has saved a roomful of damp rugs the next day on more than a dozen occasions.
The Netatmo system (with various optional sensors) can be found on Amazon for less than a few hundred dollars, providing you already have an office wi-fi set up for your computers. It’s a great way to add needed information to what and how you do your everyday work.
Author: Thom Orf
Company: Cristomar Fine Rug Cleaning and Repair
Location: Alpharetta, Georgia
Internet Resources for the Rug Cleaner
Welcome fellow rug cleaners to the 21st century! We are at a time in history where information on just about anything and everything is but a click away. Yes, I am talking about the internet. Want to build a deck? Click click, you have plans, supplies needed, and how-to’s. Want to know the population of Estonia? Click click, you have access to census and private outlet data. Want to know how far it is to a desired destination? Click click, you have the distance, estimated travel time and a list of eateries and hotels with discounts just for you. What about rug cleaning? Are there resources on the internet that can help us improve our operations or maybe help us figure out a tough cleaning issue?
Rug cleaning was for a very long time a very “hush-hush” type of business. You didn’t tell anybody outside of your company what actually went on in your wash plant. To this day, there are people who covet their rug cleaning secrets. Fortunately, there are others who have become more forthcoming with their knowledge in hopes of advancing the industry as a whole and combatting the public’s misconceptions. A great deal of this information is available on the web, though it may take more creativity to find than simply typing “Armenian rug cleaning secrets” into Google. This article highlights some of the different e-resources available, relating directly to our industry as well as indirect sources that might not immediately come to mind.
By now you are probably familiar with social media and networking. Forums, blogs, Facebook, and YouTube are a few of the ways people are coming together over the web. Over the last ten years, these social media sites have fundamentally changed the way we relate to each other on both a personal and professional level. Our ability to connect with individuals of similar interests is no longer limited to our immediate vicinity but can literally stretch across the globe. This makes social media a powerful tool for rug cleaners and rug enthusiasts to share experience and expertise.
Most prefer Facebook because it allows you to connect with both individuals and groups of people with like interests. Some of these groups will be “open” meaning anyone can join. Other groups are “closed” meaning you have to be approved by the group’s administrator to access and share content. Because groups of interest to the cleaner are so numerous, using Facebook’s search feature is not the best way to identify which ones are right for you. The most interesting content I’ve found has come from Facebook’s algorithmic recommendations and my connections to professional colleagues. To find out what groups a “friend” is involved in, you can visit their personal page and click on their “about” tab.
Some of the best rug groups I belong to are “What is My Rug”, “Woolsafe North America Service Providers”, and “Persian to Navajo rugs” to name a few. Others that may be of interest are “Turkmen Woven Arts…”, “The Weftkickers”, “Academy of Oriental Rugs”, “Carpet Merchants Worldwide” and “Rug Appraisals”. These are a small sampling of the groups available to the rug professional that can be not only helpful but fun. I’ve seen some incredibly beautiful rugs grace the pages of these groups and been a “virtual witness” to scholarly debates by some of the most knowledgeable rug people in the world. One can also keep up easily with classes and upcoming events from multiple groups and individuals.
Blogs are another useful form of social media. Blogs are web pages run by individuals who contribute written and visual material in formal or conversational style. There are numerous blogs on rug related topics. A few that come to mind are “rugmaster.blogspot.com” by Dr. Khosrow Sobhe, “Rugchick.com” by Lisa Wagner, and “persiancarpetguide.com” by Barry O’Connell. Blogs can offer a wealth of information and the writer’s opinions and interpretations of that information on many facets of the rug industry such as rug identification, cleaning tips and techniques, market trends, and educational opportunities.
YouTube is popular form of visual social media. In fact, YouTube is the number one “How-to” site in the world with a vast array of video offering instruction on almost anything. Rug related how-to’s on this site will not be comprehensive but can be informative. You can tour many different wash plants as well as see a variety of wash processes all from the comfort of your office. In addition to manufacturers’ demo videos, individuals often post video of themselves using equipment and products in real world situations, making it a valuable tool when contemplating purchasing decisions. In addition to these promotional videos, there are videos on rug repair, rug identification, and rug dyeing to name a few.
Due to its popularity, social media is one of the largest resources for the rug cleaner but it’s important to know its limitations. The content is only as good as the individual/s posting it. For this reason it is important that the sources can be trusted. Remember, just because it’s on the internet does not make it true. In addition to some excellent information, the web is filled with opinions, educated guesses, misrepresented information, inexperienced input and outright lies. When considering content, it’s important to remember it is a “reader beware” environment. Secondly, while there is a great deal of information on a wide range of topics available. Finding that content can be extremely time consuming and inefficient. For that reason, the information is used most reliably to slowly increase one’s knowledge and not necessarily as a problem solving tool.
Because this article is for the ARCS newsletter, I’m hoping most of us are already familiar with the ARCS forum. Collectively, ARCS’ members have well over 1000 years of combined rug cleaning experience available through the member forum on the its website. This makes the forum a great resource for everything we face in our day-to-day operations. Members can login and get help on topics ranging from rug ID and cleaning questions to employee management and supply chain issues. With all this experience, you might expect the forum to be bursting at the seams with info. This is just not the case. The combination of the high skill level of many ARCS members, the interpersonal relationships members build with each other and a certain amount of intimidation of asking the “dumb” questions keeps the ARCS forum fairly lean on content. Members typically turn to the forum when they have a very specific question they need answered or when other resources turn up dry. For that reason, it can be a great resource for the rug cleaner should they ever need it.
By nature, we are creatures of habit. It is no different when it comes to our rug cleaning operations. Over the years we determine what works for us, what we like to do and generally do not vary much. With the increase in the number of people doing rug cleaning today, we are seeing more and more manufacturers of equipment, supplies, and chemicals. These manufacturers have websites that are valuable resources for seeing what is new and interesting in the rug care world. Equipment manufacturers will often post demonstration videos of their equipment and some will offer customization services that the general public doesn’t even know are available. Most major and many minor chemical companies now have extensive product lines solely for rug cleaning. I regularly visit their websites and peruse the rug cleaning products and supplies, occasionally coming across a product that I was unaware of that may benefit our operation. This market research added several products to our arsenal that makes our job easier and more effective. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised to find a few hand tools that we were fabricating ourselves available for order, saving me time and often money. Don’t overlook manufacturer’s websites as they are great assets to stay abreast of our constantly evolving industry.
We’ve covered some sources that are directly related to rugs and rug cleaning but there are just as many indirectly related sources that can be of great value. “LiveAuctioneers.com” is a website that allows users to bid on auctions all over the world. It also allows users to search past auctions displaying the actual hammer price of goods. I use this website to check real world sale prices of commonly encountered rugs. This is far more beneficial than a dealer’s asking price, which may have little bearing to actual consummated sales. While these prices were traditionally considered to be wholesale, since the advent of the internet, I know many dealers who complain about going to auctions only to bid against their own customers for the best rugs. In fact, the most expensive documented sale of a rug was at a Sotheby’s auction in 2013. This site allows you to search by rug name, specific auction or geographic location which is a nice feature.
Art supply and dye websites can be another source of useful information. Many of us perform dye bleed correction and redyeing in our plant. This is as much art as it is science. It makes sense that websites geared toward artists, art supplies, and dyeing can be helpful. Earth Guild, Dharma Trading Company, and Jacquard Products are art supply companies whose websites contain products for textiles including dyes, dye removers, textile paints, and textile markers. Often these sites will contain instructions, tips, and even videos on how to use certain products. Dyeing websites and blogs like “dyeingworld.com” provide valuable information on dyeing different materials and textiles as well as dye removal and bleaching techniques for various fibers. Sites like these will commonly have links to other websites and suppliers that can be helpful as well.
The internet has proven to be a useful resource in many areas of life, including rug cleaning. Whether it is our trade association forum, various public social media outlets or suppliers’ websites, there is a vast amount of useful information to help us elevate our operations if we are willing to look. It may not always be apparent or comprehensive, but the little tidbits can really make a difference. So go forth my friends, into the world-wide-interweb and click yourself into a better rug professional.