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Compact Laundries Strive to Make Most of Limited Space

Bruce Beggs |

Whether a laundry has enough space to efficiently produce a given workload is a subject that’s open for debate, but there’s no denying that many laundries throughout the country process thousands or even millions of pounds a year in comparatively tiny quarters.
“The models for small-space laundries can be found in the cruise line industry and many of the resort laundries in areas where space comes at a premium,” says Jim Brebner, assistant administrator for Cornhuskers State Industries, a service division of the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services.
The EDRO Corp. promotes itself as the leading washer-extractor manufacturer serving the shipboard and marine industry.
The U.S. Navy uses EDRO’s DynaWash® 60- to 200-pound-capacity, three-pocket washer-extractors for its shipboard laundries. Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America, Costa Crociere, Crystal Cruises and Cunard are a sample of the cruise lines that rely on EDRO equipment.
As the largest cruise ship ever constructed, Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 serves the trans-Atlantic market with the widest variety of luxury amenities and facilities aboard any oceangoing vessel, EDRO says.
In support of that mission, the ship’s main laundry features water-reuse-ready DynaWash washer-extractors that have a throughput capacity of more than 3,300 pounds per hour.
The machine’s compact machine design, coupled with its ability to minimize tangling and bundling of linens, make it the preferred equipment choice, the company says.
Large-diameter ironers that produce more pounds for their footprint than conventional ironers, and larger-batch tunnel washers that extend “up” rather than “out” to gain maximum pounds produced with smaller footprints are also examples of equipment that can benefit smaller laundries, according to Brebner.
“In larger plants, material-handling systems that free up floor space are the key to producing the maximum number of pounds in a smaller area,” Brebner says.
“Shake-out pick arms” such as Chicago Dryer Co.’s Pik-Quik and cornerless spreader-feeders are pieces of equipment introduced in recent years that have simplified operating and managing a small laundry, notes Dennis Robinson, associate director of facility services/textiles for Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, N.C.
The on-premise laundry at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, Ill., a Chicago suburb, is an example of a “small” laundry that benefits from high-capacity equipment while being mindful of floor space and ceiling height.
Located on two levels, the L-shaped laundry is home to 12 to 15 workers on a single 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. shift daily. It serves its own 1,100-room hotel plus the nearby Hyatt Rosemont, which has 225 rooms, according to Dave Gaborek, chief engineer. It also does its own valet work and that of several surrounding hotels.
Each month, the laundry processes an average of 300,000 pounds of room linen and 65,000 to 75,000 pounds of food-and-beverage linen, says Fernando Ayala, rooms division manager.
Its wash aisle on the lower level is varied, featuring a pair of 600-pound Washex washer-extractors, a 250-pound Challenge washer-extractor and a pair of 85-pound UniMac washer-extractors.
Drying is provided by a 600-pound Challenge model and a 125-pound American Dryer Corp. (ADC) model.
The flatwork finishing line is almost exclusively Chicago® – from the Pik-Quik to the King Edge feeder to the Century deep-chest steam ironer to the Skyline 2000 folder and a dual sorting stacker. Efficiency gained through the 2-roll, 42-inch ironer and the folder has enabled the OPL to process an extra 1,500 sheets a day, Gaborek says.
Laundries lacking in square footage are often required to operate more than eight hours a day or more than five days a week, says Eric Frederick, director of laundry services for Carilion Laundry Service, Roanoke, Va.
“This is normally caused by a lack of storage area for clean linen and soiled-linen holding,” he says. “It is not unusual to see this type of laundry operate seven days per week.
“I visited one in-house hospital laundry that sent all their linen items through the ironer simply because it was the only way to get them from one side of the laundry to the other.”
Wes Breedlove, who is the director of linen services for Cleveland Regional Medical Center in Shelby, N.C., says he’s looking forward to eliminating Sunday operations thanks to a planned expansion.
At 3,500 square feet, his laundry produces 2 million pounds a year. Enclosing a canopied area and moving offices and the employee break room there early next year will give him an additional 400 square feet of production space.
He’ll be able to consolidate his dry folding operation, which now is done in three different areas.
Robinson offers these tips for streamlining laundry operations:
• Do whatever is necessary to process all soiled linens daily.
• Make up clean-linen exchange carts and fill linen orders directly from production inventory.
• Handle linens as little as possible.
• Utilize a monorail system up to the point of folding and stacking linens.
• Catch stained and rewash linens while damp or before drying or passing through the ironer.
“The capacity of a given space is based on the productivity of the equipment or the employee working in that space,” Frederick says. “Productivity or utilization of space can be improved by always washing full wash loads, changing the wash formula, reducing rewash, reducing the number of items that are in the linen inventory, and carefully managing the drying process.
“To maximize the capacity of a given space is more management-related than equipment-related.”
If you must have more work space, Brebner recommends seeking professional guidance.
“For anyone looking to install or renovate existing facilities, my advice would be to involve an impartial expert consultant to assist in getting the most efficient layout possible,” he says. “It’s really no different than using the services of an architect to get the most out of a building project.”
 

About the author

Bruce Beggs

American Trade Magazines LLC

Editorial Director, American Trade Magazines LLC

Bruce Beggs is editorial director of American Trade Magazines LLC, including American Coin-Op, American Drycleaner and American Laundry News. He was the editor of American Laundry News from November 1999 to May 2011. Beggs has worked as a newspaper reporter/editor and magazine editor since graduating from Kansas State University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. He and his wife, Sandy, have two children.

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