ST. JOSEPH, Mich. — When striving toward a properly equipped hotel laundry facility, owners and operators have a number of factors to consider, including the right equipment mix, new technologies, types of machines and unique industry challenges.
The proper selection of commercial laundry equipment can have a significant impact on several key operational factors—namely time, money and utilities.
Before the Equipment, You Need A Distributor
Whether shopping for laundry equipment for a new hotel/motel or looking to upgrade an existing operation, it is important to connect with a reliable, established distributor for product guidance and future maintenance. The best laundry distributors are those that have a long history in the business and have received positive reviews for the customer service they provide — both before and after the sale.
It also is wise to look for a distributor with solid warranty and service agreements, factory-trained service technicians and a full parts inventory, so replacement parts can be obtained with minimal downtime. For example, if laundry equipment stops working on a busy Saturday, having a distributor that will send a service technician out promptly with the replacement parts needed for repairs is crucial to keep up with the flow of guest needs.
A reputable distributor will help ensure the laundry room is designed to efficiently meet the needs of the hotel staff and guests. The arrangement should accommodate a good workflow and have proper ventilation and enough space on all sides of the equipment for maintenance and operation. Distributors also can help owners calculate how many loads of laundry will be required to accommodate the average flow of guests.
Finding the Right Mix
To maximize a laundry operation’s efficiency, there are a few variables that need to be considered. For example, how many hours will the equipment operate per day? The answer to this question is dependent on the number of rooms, types of linens laundered, etc. and directly affects the variety and size of the equipment needed.
Another factor that needs to be addressed is the hotel’s target market. If hotel guests are generally business travelers, the type and the amount of linens vary greatly compared to a full-service resort where multiple towel types, robes, linens, etc., are required for daily guest use. Depending on the types of linens and the amount of laundry at the on-premise facility, a distributor can help determine where more or less equipment would ensure a smooth laundry operation.
A simple rule of thumb for preliminary discussions about the capacity of equipment needed to stay ahead of hotel/motel laundry needs is one pound of washer capacity for each guestroom. For instance, if a hotel has 100 rooms, it would need approximately 100 pounds of washer capacity. For dryers, hotel owners and operators would want to select equipment that provides approximately 30-50% additional capacity, in this example, around 150 pounds of dryer capacity.
Generally, owners and operators with more than 40 to 50 rooms opt for two smaller washers, which allow for laundry to be done continually throughout the day, instead of waiting to do all of the linens at one time. Also, in case the equipment breaks down, a second unit is there to keep up with the guests’ linen and towel needs.
Technologies Save Money, Time and Linens
The largest cost in a hotel laundry is labor, which can comprise 50-60% of every dollar spent. One of the best things a hotel owner can do is to upgrade the washers to models that have higher spin speeds, which remove more water from linens. This leads to a reduction in the amount of natural gas consumed in the drying process by shortening the dry times. Higher-extraction washers can cut drying times 20-40%.
Housekeeping operators stand to recoup the price difference between efficient and less-efficient on-premise laundry equipment in labor savings over a few years.
High-spin washers help hotels keep the cost of linen replacement down, as shorter dry times help increase linen life. Most of the damage to linens occurs in the dryers, when linens are tumbling in temperatures of 160-180 F for anywhere from 25 to 50 minutes.
Tomorrow: An additional challenge...