You are here

Asking the Right Questions for OPL Equipment Sizing

Key is finding proper machines to do laundry job right

HOUSTON — Bigger is not always better.

That’s true when talking about cities, homes, cars, food portions or even your business pursuing growth just for growth’s sake.

But it’s also very true when considering the size of washing machines and dryers for on-premises laundry applications.

Many people assume that the bigger the facility, the larger capacity washer they will need. However, laundry rarely arrives all at once. Many times, multiple smaller-capacity machines make more sense, as they keep loads of laundry flowing, rather than having staff sitting around and waiting for enough linen to fill larger equipment.

If sales people are doing their job, they’re just not selling washers and dryers. They’re educating laundry managers and property general managers on what they need to do their laundry job right.

Many customers know they need a washer, but they don’t know what size machine they need, if it should be high or low G-force, or if they need a reversing or non-reversing dryer. Distributor sales staff often need to educate their clients, but they also need information to help direct the correct solutions.

Many factors should be considered when deciding on the correct equipment sizing for on-premises laundry applications, including the type of garments being washed, the type of facility, the number of shifts doing laundry and the size of the facility.

That means asking questions, lots of questions. In fact, a lot of the same questions should be asked, no matter what type of facility you have.

In a hotel, for instance, do you have banquet facilities or full-service restaurants? Are you washing table rounds and napkins, or doing straight room linen? How many rooms are in the hotel? Are you doing your laundry in one shift or two? Do you have a pool or waterpark and are you providing the towels?

If it is a high-end hotel, where you need to turn rooms over fast, you’ll need a high G-force machine and a dryer with over-dry protection so you don’t burn the linens.

In a nursing home, you need to answer how many beds, how many shifts do laundry, and what type of patients are cared for. Long-term care could mean memory care to assisted living and there is a big difference between those two.

Those living in an assisted-living facility are sometimes doing their own laundry, while patients in a memory unit will mean you’re dealing with some very soiled laundry, so you want to make sure you’re washing the laundry with the right temperature water.

Some manufacturers have machines with temperature control that allow you to maintain a specific water temperature throughout the wash. That’s important, especially in states that require nursing homes do the laundry at 165 F, both fill and exit, such as Ohio.

In prisons, you’ll need to determine how many inmates, if you’re washing inmate’s clothing separately or together, and how many shifts. Do any inmates have diseases like HIV? If so, you’ll need to wash those items separately in a special bag that dissolves in hot water to keep contaminations from affecting everyone else’s bedding.

A lot of prisons have finishing equipment and will launder guard uniforms because inmates provide free labor. That’s a big savings since labor generally contributes 45 to 50% of the laundry budget.

For fire departments, you need to ask many of the same questions, such as the number of firefighters in house and if the station wear will be washed onsite. But you also need to make sure the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) codes and standards are followed.

For instance, firefighters can’t wash anything over 100 G-force extraction, and they are limited in what they can put in the washing machine, due to the contaminants and carcinogens that gather on their gear from fighting fires. In addition, much of the gear, like Kevlar and fire barrier fabrics, can’t be tumble dried. That gear must be hung in drying cabinets with forced air, ensuring all parts of the gear are totally dry.

Why so many rules and regulations? The answer is simple: safety. For instance, if a cuff on a uniform is still damp when a firefighter is fighting a fire, he or she may receive steam burns.

Many people also falsely believe that it’s okay to run smaller loads than the machine’s capacity. That is wrong. It’s inefficient and wastes water and chemicals, in addition to being hard on key components of the washer-extractor. Today’s machines are meant to be workhorses. You’re putting more stress on the bearings if you aren’t loading them full.

We have one hotel that persistently tells us they should only be putting in 70% of the laundry capacity, believing they get a better wash with more swooshing, and they have created problems for themselves on the service side, because bearings are going out sooner than their life expectancy.

There are many real-life examples, where buying the right laundry equipment for the facility will save time and money. For instance, we have a customer who is building a 100-room hotel and thought he needed two 45-pound washers and two 75-pound dryers. We were able to convince him of the benefits of high-featured equipment, and it’s saving him time and money on utilities and labor.

The washers and dryers communicate with each other in real time, and the general manager can get a daily or weekly report that tells him how efficiently the laundry is operating. He can keep an eye on if a washer is down, and if he’s getting complaints from guests that linens are dirty, he can look at what detergents are being used and what cycles, and see if an attendant is rapid advancing the process so he or she can get out of work sooner.

In addition, a 400 G-force extraction delivers maximum water removal for decreased drying times, as well as maximizes throughput, while reducing gas and labor costs. Its over-dry protections use sensors in the cylinder to detect the ideal dryness level and automatically stop the dryer once it is reached.

It, too, delivers maximum throughput per labor hour to greatly reduce your labor costs, and eliminates the industry-average eight minutes of over-drying per cycle to help maximize your utility costs.

tape measure

(Image licensed by Ingram Publishing)

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Matt Poe at [email protected].