ST. JOSEPH, Mich. — As word continues to spread about the various benefits of using less energy and water in daily tasks, much of the hospitality industry is now working to make its on-premise laundry (OPL) facilities more energy- and water-efficient. As a result, many hotel owners are finding that the conservation of natural resources is not only good for the environment, but also for business. It can lead to lower utility bills and increased productivity, as well as an improved image in the eyes of hotel guests.
Though it may be tempting to jump right in and start buying new equipment, it’s important for hotel owners to first take a close look at the many options available to them, leading to a more informed decision.
There are a variety of things to do and consider as they begin their research on improvements, which can ultimately lead to higher energy and water efficiency, as well as a higher return on investment (ROI).
FIRST, FIND A DISTRIBUTOR
Whether looking to buy laundry equipment for a new hotel or upgrading an existing operation, hotel owners would be wise to first begin a relationship with an established distributor for product guidance and future maintenance. Look for laundry distributors who have a long history in the business and a well-known reputation for good customer service, both before and after the sale.
It also is a good idea to choose a distributor that offers solid warranty and service agreements, factory-trained service technicians and a full parts inventory, so replacement parts can be obtained with minimal downtime. It is crucial that the distributor send a service technician out promptly with the replacement parts needed for repairs so the laundry facility can keep up with guests’ needs.
ENERGY AND WATER EFFICIENCY
Though the costs of operating an OPL are considerably lower than sending laundry to an outside business, selecting the right equipment for the job can reduce costs even further. Hotel owners can significantly cut utility costs by investing in the latest energy-efficient commercial laundry equipment, including multi-load high-speed washer extractors.
High-Speed Multi-Load Washer-Extractors — The best way to improve overall OPL efficiency is by incorporating multi-load, high-speed washer-extractors. Extracting water in the washer instead of the dryer through higher spin speeds means linens will dry more quickly and gently, and less energy will be consumed.
For the highest level of performance, hotel owners should look for soft-mount washer-extractors with a G-force (G), or spin speed, of at least 300, though certain soft-mount washer-extractors can feature high-speed extraction of up to 350 G.
Higher G-force simply means more water is removed. For example, a 55-pound washer operating at 100 G will leave about 50 pounds of water to be extracted in the dryer, which will take 45 minutes to dry. A 350-G washer, however, will only leave 33 pounds of water, which will reduce drying time to 31 minutes and save linens from additional wear.
When compared to laundries operating with 100-G washers, those operating with 350-G washers can save substantial labor dollars. A laundry operating with 350-G washers can process 10 loads in approximately 2½ hours less time than the laundry operating the 100-G washers. At $10 an hour, increasing washer speed to 350 Gs has the potential to save more than $8,000 a year in labor. Plus, shorter drying time at 170 F will cause less linen wear and tear.
High-speed washer-extractors are an ideal option for OPL operators, as they drastically reduce labor and other operational costs. Of course, to complete the efficiency upgrade package, OPL facilities also need an energy-efficient multi-load dryer.
Multi-Load Dryers — Like multi-load washer-extractors, today’s multi-load dryers can hold larger loads of laundry, reducing the number of loads that need to be dried. These highly efficient dryers come in varying sizes, with the largest ones being able to accommodate loads of more than 150 pounds.
For the highest energy efficiency, hotel owners should look for large dryers with high-performance airflow distribution systems that dry clothes faster using less energy, and sufficient insulation and sealing to prevent the leakage of heated air. This allows the machine to dry clothes faster using less energy.
Washer-Extractors for Smaller Facilities — In addition to the individual size and performance of machines, the size of the OPL facility is an important factor to consider. Though multi-load equipment is ideal for larger facilities, it might not be as good of a fit for some smaller OPLs. Fortunately, there are also equipment options for laundry facilities in smaller hotels.
Owners of smaller OPLs stand to reap the most substantial benefits from an equipment upgrade, usually from a traditional top-loading washer to a front-loading high-speed washer-extractor. When comparing on-premise high-speed washer-extractors with traditional top-loaders, the front-loaders are generally recognized as the more energy-efficient option, and they also use water more efficiently.
For example, a top-loading machine needs enough water to cover all of the fabrics in its drum, while a front-loading machine only requires one-third of that amount of water. The drum in front-loading washer-extractors is horizontally set, so as it turns, it uses gravity to drop the fabrics back into the water. This allows front-loading washer-extractors to use several gallons of water a year less than traditional top-loading machines.
Another front-load washer-extractor advantage is that these machines have no agitator in the middle of the drum, allowing them to hold larger loads, which also saves time and energy. Additionally, agitators inflict gradual wear and tear on fabrics over time, so fabrics washed in a front-load machine should last longer.
ELEMENTS OF PROPER OPL DESIGN
For hotel OPL facilities to operate efficiently, it is also important for owners to properly design the facility, ensuring that all OPL components are positioned in the most beneficial way for hotel staff members.
First, OPL facilities must have a wide swinging door that will easily accommodate in-and-out foot traffic. Then, there’s the placement of the different areas used for separating soiled laundry prior to washing and folding clean laundry after it’s processed. Placing folding stations near washers and dryers helps staff members to be more efficient, as they only have a minimal distance to carry laundry, and also helps keep clean laundry from potentially being dragged on the floor.
Washers and dryers should be in close proximity, while allowing for staff members to easily maneuver laundry carts within the space. Store clean linens near the entrance/exit door for easy access to both housekeeping and other hotel staff members.
Most distributors will have someone on staff who specializes in laundry facility design, or will be able to recommend an outside interior designer or architect who can assist the hotel owner with producing a more efficient laundry room layout.
Under the guidance of a reputable, well-established commercial laundry distributor, hotel owners can make huge improvements to the energy- and water- efficiency of their OPL and significantly reduce operational costs.
High-speed washer-extractors and multi-load dryers are a wise investment for all OPL facility owners, as they help achieve all of these goals and allow staff to spend less time handling laundry and more time on other important duties.
In addition, due to the ROI of the equipment, hotel owners can expect to recoup the price difference between this equipment and traditional less-efficient OPL equipment in utility savings over just a few years.
High-speed multi-load washer-extractors and multi-load dryers also help decrease a hotel’s impact on the environment. So, by making informed energy- and water-efficient decisions for their OPL facilities, hotel owners are not only making a smart move for their bottom line, but are also doing their part to preserve the environment of future generations.