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Achieving Energy Reduction Via Textile Products

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(Image licensed by Ingram Publishing)

Eric Frederick |

ROANOKE, Va. — My major project for 2014, I have decided, is to research and purchase more energy-efficient textile products for my laundry and customers. In starting this research, I am not willing to sacrifice any of the current linen features that my customers like.

For example, I have tested a sample of a high-polyester bath blanket (75% polyester/25% cotton), but find that the hand is too abrasive for me to endorse. I currently purchase a 50% polyester/50% cotton bleached bath blanket. I will continue to look for a higher-content bath blanket that has the hand that my customers expect.

I am getting ready to test a 100% polyester fitted sheet to replace my current knitted fitted sheet that is 55% polyester. This sheet can be handled like a knitted fitted sheet, has a nicer hand, and since it is woven, it should be resistant to holes caused by pins and clips.

I am also looking for a higher-polyester-content spread blanket. My current blanket is 50% polyester and 50% cotton. I understand that there are several blankets on the market for me to review.

My newfound interest in energy-efficient textiles is based on a fourfold desire to reduce costs in some areas.

The first cost I want to reduce is the energy I use to effectively clean and dry my textiles per pound. The higher the polyester content, the less the moisture retention and the less energy it will take to process the linen.

The second consideration is to increase my hourly output from my tunnel washers without having to add equipment. Most tunnel washer systems are limited by the number of dryers on the system and the product mix passing through the laundry. If I can reduce the drying times on three key items representing 40% of my workload, the time saved will directly translate into increased production.

The third goal is to reduce the linen replacement rate on these items by purchasing items with a longer useful life. I understand that I may actually need to spend a little more to begin with to purchase these new items. These initial purchase costs should be offset in the long run by increased productivity, decreased energy costs and decreased linen replacement costs. The energy savings will not be available until a majority of the items in the system in each category are the new higher-polyester items. The same will be true for the increased production on the tunnel. The number of items being replaced will continue at its current rate until the older items have worked their way through the system.

My fourth goal is to reduce the amount of lint I generate in my laundry. Bath blankets, thermal spreads and knitted sheets are responsible for a majority of the lint that is produced in my laundry on a daily basis. Reducing the amount of lint will create a safer, cleaner environment for my workers.

I will carefully evaluate possible alternatives for these products and others during 2014. The goal is to find products that meet or exceed a patient’s needs while helping to reduce energy costs; increase tunnel productivity; have the potential to reduce replacement rates; and reduce lint generation. I look forward to an interesting and exciting year.

About the author

Eric Frederick

Carilion Laundry Service

Director of Laundry Services

Eric Frederick is director of laundry services for Carilion Laundry Service, Roanoke, Va., and past president of the National Association of Institutional Linen Management (NAILM), now called the Association for Linen Management (ALM). He’s a two-time association manager of the year. You can reach him by e-mail at efrederick@carilion.com.

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