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Fresh Start Laundry Picks Hybrid Project to Meet Mixed Needs, Use Less Water

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Timeline commitments to prevent extended plant downtime required an all-hands-on-deck approach once the new equipment was in place at Discover Goodwill of Southern and Western Colorado’s Fresh Start laundry. (Photos: David Chadsey)

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The conveyor used to load the 10-compartment (165 pounds capacity in each) Kannegiesser PowerTrans tunnel washer.

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The new clean rail provides faster, easier dryer loading for Fresh Start workers.

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Ductwork design included modular assembly above the roof for strength and inspection access.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Water is a big deal in Colorado. Discover Goodwill of Southern and Western Colorado, which operates the Fresh Start mixed plant laundry here, was using almost three gallons of water per pound of laundry processed. Management knew it had to make some changes in order to stay competitive in the marketplace.

DESIGN TEAMS TUNNEL AND CONVENTIONAL WASH AISLE

Over the years, Fresh Start’s conventional wash aisle had grown to 10 machines totaling of 2,250 pounds of wash capacity, but many of the washers were past their normal service life. Heavy soil drove the high water usage. In 2011, the local water utility announced a 300% rate increase to be phased in over three years.

With anticipated growth opportunities also in the mix, a new tunnel washer system made sense, but a significant portion of Fresh Start’s seasonal business included military goods that weren’t compatible with tunnel processing. Staying conventional and installing a state-of-the-art water-reuse system was also under consideration. 

Fresh Start needed a wash aisle that used less water, capacity to double production capability, and significant conventional washer capacity. Available space would not accommodate a full tunnel system plus the conventional wash capacity needed. And the capital cost of new conventional washers plus water reuse was significant.

The solution: a hybrid tunnel design utilizing 1,600 pounds of existing conventional wash capacity. A shared manual gravity rail would service a new line of high-production 450-pound dryers. The shared-dryer design provided adequate dry capacity for the tunnel and conventional washers in a shared space.

COORDINATION IS KEY TO KEEPING DOWNTIME TO MINIMUM

A major equipment change can shut down laundry production for weeks or even months, so with the business in growth mode, this was a concern.

Project scope included major steam, water, electric, HVAC, and air-supply modifications. New roof penetrations were required, old walls had to come down, and installation of new walls and barriers was needed to maintain functional separation between soiled and clean areas. Old dryers and washers would be rigged out before new equipment was brought in and installed.

Fresh Start selected Kannegiesser USA to deliver the equipment and installation solution it needed. Tony Jackson, Kannegiesser’s sales manager, organized a team of local industrial contractors, and the project was squeezed from eight weeks of plant downtime to just three.

“We settled on a very aggressive installation schedule,” says Jackson. “We needed a good collaborative effort to meet the time line goal for full production, and everyone delivered.”

New equipment included a Kannegiesser PowerTrans 10-compartment (165 pounds capacity in each) tunnel washer, Kannegiesser PowerPress 56-bar extraction press, Gardner Machinery heavy I-beam rail system, three CLM 450-pound capacity industrial dryers, and six ADC dryers.

Mech One was responsible for all HVAC and ductwork. Much of the material was pre-fabricated in advance of the equipment delivery. It designed and built modular ductwork above the roof that transitioned the hot dryer exhaust parallel with the roof. While sturdy, the design allows for easy disassembly, providing interior inspection access.

Olson Plumbing & Heating consistently stayed ahead of their schedule commitments for air, gas, water, drain and steam, according to Jackson, and successfully troubleshot a last-minute issue to ensure proper gas pressure was available for the plant’s larger gas utility load.

The new electrical requirements required a block-wide power shutdown to install the new service.  Electric Services of Colorado mobilized during early weekend hours and made the transition seamless for Fresh Start and its affected neighbors.

MATERIAL-HANDLING SYSTEMS ENHANCE ERGONOMICS, SAFETY

Ergonomics and safety were also primary goals of the laundry renovation. Fresh Start employs disabled individuals throughout the laundry. Helping them reach their highest level of personal and economic independence is central to the mission of Goodwill.

Utilizing a manual conveyor on the back side of the tunnel eliminated the safety hazards of an automated shuttle; the conveyor inclines to load press cakes to the dryer rail. The heavy I-beam rail design allows up to three cakes—a full 450-pound dryer load—in each sling. Manual rail can work even when ceiling height is not sufficient for automated rail technology.

Where once dryers had been manually loaded from carts, the new clean rail provides faster, easier dryer loading. The dryer rail also provides nearly 7,000 pounds of staged storage between the tunnel and the dryers. Rail staging can increase tunnel production by eliminating system holds associated with “waiting for dryers.”

The system performed right from the beginning, says Vae Lafano, laundry project manager at Fresh Start. “Summer is our busiest season. The new laundry design shortened our seasonal wash-aisle production by six hours a day. They told me that the tunnel would put pressure on the finishing side of the plant, and it has.”

And how’s the water usage? In the first two months of operation, Lafano reports the tunnel water consumption is averaging 0.5-0.6 gallons per pound. Good news for Fresh Start, and good news for Colorado.

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