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Designing Success: Kannegiesser USA, for Ecotex Healthcare Linen Service

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(Photo: Kannegiesser USA)

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Kannegiesser had to fast-track a second tunnel washer when the first was destroyed (pictured) in a traffic accident while en route to Ecotex. (Photo: Kannegiesser USA)

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(Photo: Kannegiesser USA)

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(Photo: Kannegiesser USA)

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(Photo: Kannegiesser USA)

Each year, a number of laundry projects are completed around the country, resulting in brand-new or retrofitted plants primed and ready to convert soiled goods to clean textiles for the benefit of end-users and customers.

But before one of these plants goes online, there are months, sometimes even years, of effort spent in preparation. As a way to celebrate all the hard work that goes into funding, designing, building and equipping a modern laundry plant, American Laundry News has created this feature coined Designing Success to feature portraits of memorable plant installations.

Here, institutional/OPL, commercial and industrial laundry equipment manufacturers, as well as firms that offer design/build, engineering and mechanical contracting services to the laundry industry, were invited to tout their latest and greatest projects of the past two years.

KANNEGIESSER USA, FOR ECOTEX HEALTHCARE LINEN SERVICE

Seattle-based Ecotex Healthcare Linen Service is a family-owned and -operated healthcare linen services company, serving the Western and Southwestern United States, as well as Canada.

Having been in the laundry industry since the 1970s, Ecotex has proven experience and focuses on constantly improving its operations and levels of customer service. This particular commitment to the customer has made Ecotex extremely competitive, and allowed the company to grow its business. Its production facilities carry HLAC accreditation, and are certified both “Clean Green” and “Hygienically Clean Healthcare” by TRSA.

Ecotex recently installed a new Kannegiesser Tunnel Washing System in its 40,000-square-foot Albuquerque facility, which processes hygienically clean healthcare linen for hospitals in New Mexico and the West Texas region.

Based on the strategy of relocating older capital equipment to its other laundry facilities, Ecotex planned on investing in a new wash system for Albuquerque, with the goal to increase production capacity and improve processing quality. The company issued a formal RFP process for the bid in October 2012. Following intensive review and due diligence, Kannegiesser USA was awarded this project in early December 2012.

The Kannegiesser design team and Ecotex management worked collaboratively to develop an effective plan to install the new system—custom-designed and built in Kannegiesser’s factories in Germany—next to the existing system, which was being replaced. It allowed Ecotex to continue using its tunnel system as long as possible, while preparing the utility connections for the new Kannegiesser equipment.

Additionally, the chemical vendor for Ecotex was brought in early in the process to discuss the new PowerTrans PLUS™ technology, and how the system setup offered many options to achieve the best wash results.

The system components installed by Ecotex include a pocket load conveyor (PB 4-85), 187-pound batch size tunnel washer (PT+85-12), hydraulic press extractor (PP 10-85-56 Turbo), intermediate conveyor, lift shuttle conveyor (LSC-9 & SPS controls), seven gas-heated system single batch dryers (D 85 G-WU), bypass conveyor (no dry station), central lint collector, and OSHA-approved safety fencing.

The new equipment was on track for on-time delivery. All the containers arrived at the port of Houston and cleared U.S. Customs on schedule. They were then placed on independent trucks for the 900-mile journey to Albuquerque. On May 11, one of the flatbed trucks traveling through Texas encountered a severe rainstorm. Unfortunately, the driver lost control of his vehicle, which carried the main tunnel washer structure. The truck flipped onto its side, totaling the new Kannegiesser tunnel onboard. Fortunately, the driver was not injured, and no other vehicles or equipment were involved in the crash.

As each tunnel is customized to the specific customer application, there was no possible way for a replacement shipment “off the shelf.” However, the Kannegiesser factory realized the necessity for a high-priority production slot, and rearranged the existing schedule to place the Ecotex replacement machine on a fast track.

As the replacement tunnel was being manufactured, installation of all other pieces of the system continued. The Lowden independent rigging company utilized the time to place the equipment based on the approved design layout. Meanwhile, the Kannegiesser technicians, working with local utility contractors, installed as much of the mechanical setup as possible, which enabled the replacement tunnel to be installed with a minimum delay when it finally arrived on-site.

“We went into this project with high expectations,” says Bryan Bartsch, Ecotex vice president and director of operations. “Despite the challenges with the highway incident, the Kannegiesser team rallied to create a successful installation.”

The effort by the Kannegiesser factory team cut several weeks from the standard manufacturing timeframe. The replacement tunnel arrived in Albuquerque less than three months later, and was commissioned in September.

Ecotex indicates that its Albuquerque plant is now on track to process more than its previous goal of 14 million pounds annually, based on the needs of its customers and the preferred operational production shifts. The company has been able to reduce its previous 16-hour-per-day work schedule in the washroom to a planned 10-hour daily schedule utilizing the new Kannegiesser system. Initial goals of washroom labor reduction and utility savings overall have been achieved, and customer feedback regarding linen quality has been encouraging.

“The performance of the Kannegiesser system has, so far, surpassed our expectations,” says Ecotex President and CEO Randy Bartsch. “We are impressed by the improved brightness and whiteness of the linen we are producing.”

Check back throughout the month for more Designing Success stories!

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