CHICAGO — Commercial laundry operations are always looking for ways to control costs while maintaining the quality of the goods processed.
While labor is usually the largest cost center in a laundry plant, energy and utility usage can add up as well.
Laundry operations today continually look for ways to cut energy/utility usage in the plant (and in the delivery fleet) while maintaining excellent service and results.
Not only does cutting usage and increasing efficiency lower costs, it also lowers the environmental impact of a laundry operation.
American Laundry News spoke with three laundry industry managers to get their stories on how they cut usage and costs.
CONSOLIDATING FOR SAVINGS
Nick Fertig, director of central laundry at Rosen Hotels & Resorts in Orlando says that approximately 9.5 to 10% of total combined expenses are allocated to utilities. That figure has remained level over the past few years, but he expects more savings and efficiency in the future.
“For various reasons, utility reductions being one of many, we decided to build a new consolidated laundry,” shares Fertig. “We currently have two laundries, only one with a tunnel system, to handle 10 hotels. There are multiple shifts, and we are consolidating into one building.”
He says that Rosen is adding an efficient boiler system in conjunction with a Kemco system. There will also be more thermal ironers and a high-powered press for each tunnel to maximize extraction, which in turn reduces dry times.
“We’re eliminating a conventional laundry and replacing numerous conventional washers with one tunnel washer,” Fertig adds. “We’re also utilizing high-grade chemicals from Ecolab, which require much lower activation temperatures in the wash cycle.”
In addition, he says the laundry will use E-Tech software to maximize production efficiency.
“As we ensure our operators are within the production standards, the equipment will run for lesser periods of time while producing the maximum amount of work,” he says. “We have tenured employees that love their jobs and perform them well. As we get new hires we rely heavily on our top performers to assist in the training process.”
Fertig says Rosen also purchased and went live with E-Maint, a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software program that will hold engineers accountable for the equipment side.
“This automated cloud-based software will automatically generate daily, weekly, monthly, etc., PMs to ensure that we are seeing and correcting air leaks, drain issues, bad seals, etc.,” he adds.
FUTURE EFFICIENCIES, SAVINGS
In the future, Richard Engler, manager of textile processing at John Peter Smith Health Network (JPS), Fort Worth, Texas sees linen construction helping to lower usage in processing. He also believes there will be continued efficiency improvements in equipment and processing techniques.
Along those same lines, Fertig sees more automation helping to cut usage and costs.
“Chicago already has an automatic washcloth folding machine out in the field,” he shares. “This is just the start of complete automation on the production floor.”
He recommends, however, that laundry operators “do their homework” when it comes to new and improved technology and energy savings.
“For me, some of the more dramatic ‘claims’ of savings don’t add up, and often times you are sacrificing something to gain something else,” he says. “For example, you may save some money reusing water, but if your quality goes down the drain and you have a massive uptick in discard or rewash, you may find yourself spending more in the long run.”
As Engler says, in the end, to lower energy/utility costs, paying attention is key.
“Look for waste and track it back to the source,” he shares. “Correct the cause, don’t treat the symptoms.”
“Have a good, consistent system to accurately measure all the energy and utility costs,” adds Meeraj Mehta, manager of engineering for Prudential Overall Supply in Irvine, Calif.. “If one can measure it, one can find a way to reduce it. New technologies (hardware, software and controls) are coming out every year.”
Miss Part 1 on getting better prices, tracking/monitoring, reuse, maintenance? Click here to read it.