RICHMOND, Ky. — With all of the challenges facing laundries today, from labor issues to inflation, it’s vital for operations to be able to provide quality goods as efficiently as possible.
Laundry chemistry can be a key component in the process.
Four chemical company representatives shared strategies for maximizing the outcomes of chemical usage in laundry operations during the recent Association for Linen Management (ALM) webinar Chemical Solutions.
HOLISTIC, FLEXIBILE MANAGEMENT
Angela Becker, marketing director for the Textile Care Division at Ecolab, based in St. Paul, Minnesota, then discussed trends in the industry, what’s driving the changes and the chemical technologies and solutions moving forward.
One of the major changes in the world today she notes is water scarcity.
“By 2030, demand for clean water will surpass supply by over 40%, really a scary statistic,” says Becker. “It’s going to be very scary for us as we think about the world and what we need to do to affect our water supply.”
Energy is another focus today, she says. Energy increases are being felt in operations at commercial laundries.
Then, there is the challenge of finding enough labor.
“Many of us are posting very similar signs in our windows that we’re hiring,” points out Becker. “We need labor, and we’re talking about it in our trade industry meetings as well because labor is so critical for us.”
Of course, COVID-19 is causing global changes.
“It’s definitely top of mind for any of us,” she says. “It’s an area that is really causing acceleration and awareness. It’s causing some of the inflationary measures.”
All of these factors and more, like supply-chain and delivery issues, are changing and affecting the demands on commercial laundry businesses, flexing and changing the way they are operating.
“We understand that the solutions need to be holistic and flexible because your markets are changing because the way that you’re doing your business is changing. We know that the solutions have to be flexible,” Becker says.
“You need flexibility with your wash programs, your chemistry. From a wash-process perspective, what’s driving a lot of the changes in wash chemistry and wash programs is driven by what’s happening in the world.
“Really looking for ways for us to reduce overall spend, reduce water consumption, reduce energy spend, really drive that lowest total operational cost—and to deliver the quality and customer results that you are expecting so that you can deliver that satisfaction to your customers as well.”
Integrating chemistry and wash processes with additional solutions (e.g., water, energy, wastewater) is vital to managing an operation, she says, along with being flexible and applicable across the board on the equipment. It can also help reduce costs.
Examples of this include looking for efficiencies in an operation for faster run times, water and energy solutions for equipment that can help save water, and reclaiming heat.
“If you can really help control and manage through the chemical programs and the wash programs that you’re utilizing can help you, overall, really manage that total operational costs in your operation,” Becker says.
Also, dosing technology can help manage chemical dosing, expenditure and safety. And laundry management systems give laundries the ability to see the operation, to understand what those operational efficiencies are.
“So, for example, understanding the chemical dosing, that it’s happening each and every time so you can deliver customer satisfaction,” she says.
“If you put in this really great wash program that’s saving you time, temperature and water, it’s important to understand that if you have a leaky valve over on the other side that you can see what’s going on so you can fix that and you can gain all of the efficiencies in your process.
“So all of these pieces together are so important and interwoven as you’re thinking about how to manage your entire plant operation.”
Flexible wash programs are integral in terms of how an operator looks at his or her overall operation, shares Becker, including chemical solutions in three areas: surfactant technology, enzyme technology and peracid technology.
“The flexibility with either using surfactants, enzymes or peracids, using all three or combination of those, are important as you’re looking for that total savings and operational savings,” she says.
Surfactant technology offers targeted soil removal and suspension of those soils.
“We can make surfactants so targeted to very specific soil removal, we can make sure that we are applying the right technology to write chemistry in the wash wheel to find those efficiencies that you are looking for in your operation,” she says.
“For example, looking for a product that actually removes the sticky adhesives from medical tapes and EKG pads. Being able to remove those difficult oils on healthcare linens through surfactant technology directly in the wash wheel will help you through those efficiencies and will help you gain a total cost savings as you’re using the right surfactant technology.”
The right surfactant technology with the right textiles and machines can drive key factors: lower temperatures, lower water consumption, reduce formula run time, extended linen life, good biodegradability and sustainability.
As noted earlier, enzymes are natural catalysts targeted to very specific soils.
“What we can see, too, is the application across a number of different soils,” shares Becker. “Whether it be food soils in food and beverage processing, whether it be healthcare bodily fluids that you’re trying to look for removal, enzyme technology can help drive that soil removal while also focusing on that total savings.”
She says with enzyme technologies, laundries can do lower-temperature processing, use less water, create time savings and efficiency, extend textile life, and have great benefits from a sustainability standpoint.
Peracid technology, and oxidation chemistry, can help deliver overall brightness and microbial control, Becker shares.
“You can utilize peracids in a variety of ways, whether it be oxidation, oxidizing for color safeness, driving hygiene standards,” she says.
“I think peracids can also drive a lot of those total operational savings: lower-temperature washing, extension of linen life because it’s less degrading to linen than chlorine bleach, and excellent sustainability and, again, flexibility.”
Finally, Becker says that while wash programs and chemistry are an important and integral part of a laundry operation, it’s a part of a holistic solution.
“You need to think about not only the chemical and wash program itself but how all of these additional solutions come together,” she points out.
“Using the right surfactant and enzyme across the technologies that can come together for a total operational cost savings and also looking at water and energy solutions, wastewater solutions, the right dosing technology, the right management systems to help you manage your operation so you can drive those overall savings and operations.
“That’s really what’s going to be delivering those factors that matter, really delivering the management of your cost, helping you manage that total operational spend from water and energy, finding those efficiencies, and then ultimately driving and increasing revenue as well.”
Read Part 1 on redefining the wash pie by clicking HERE. Part 2 on bioactive/enzyme performance activators can be read HERE. And check back Thursday for the importance of laundry process validation.