Increased Productivity Through Smarter Linen Purchases (Part 2)


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Eric Frederick |

Equipment can dictate textile purchases, columnist says

ROANOKE, Va. — Last month, I discussed that each textile item should be readily recognizable, plus the need to be consistent in purchasing textile products. This month’s column will deal with how your existing equipment can dictate the type and style of textile products you purchase. 

Every laundry is different. Some have extra washing capacity, some have extra ironing capacity, but all have a critical path that limits production. Understanding your critical path is an important part of production management. Once this is understood, understanding how the textile products you buy affect this critical path is important.

Many laundries have a critical path through their dryer area. They could produce more through soil sort and washing than the dryers can handle on a normal schedule. To increase output in this area, many laundry managers dry at high temperatures with just the required minimum cool-down time. It is an important fact to understand that the higher the temperature a terry product is dried at, the poorer the hand or the feel of the fabric will be. The best-feeling towels I have ever produced came out of a steam-heated dryer. The problem was, it took twice as long to dry. High temperatures also decrease terry textile serviceable life.

Laundries with dryer capacity issues should investigate products with a higher level of polyester in them. There are now 100% polyester thermal blankets and fitted sheets on the market that will reduce the dry times and prolong the serviceable life of the product. Poly/cotton towels will dry faster than 100% cotton towels. 

Review the size of the bath towel to make sure that it is large enough to satisfy the customer but not too large for the intended job. You can get more towels per load if a smaller size is purchased. Same review should be conducted with spreads/blankets. The size should meet the needs of the customer but not be so large as to create extra, unneeded weight.

Ironer capacity can be an issue in some laundries. Most laundries have moved away from purchasing contour sheets that require ironing and have moved to knitted fitted sheets. They have stopped ironing various surgical wrappers and drapes to limit the production of lint in the surgical areas. 

They can still review the size of the sheets being purchased to ensure they are the size needed by their customer. Reducing the size of the sheet will increase sheets per load but most likely not directly affect the ironing time since this is based on the width of the sheet and not the length. Sheets now come in various blends, from 100% cotton to 100% polyester. The higher the polyester content in the sheet, the less moisture it will hold and the faster the ironer can be operated. 

Every single decision a manager makes has an impact on several different areas of his or her operation. The challenge is to understand how these decisions affect what happens as the textile products flow through the laundry and evaluate textile purchases based on these effects.


Increased Productivity Through Smarter Linen Purchases, Sept. 7, 2017

About the author

Eric Frederick

Eric Frederick served 44 years in laundry management before retiring and remains active in the industry as a laundry operations consultant. You can contact him by e-mail at or by phone at 540-520-6288.


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