BRADENTON, Fla. — Two are better than one. Craving additional capacity and production, Laundry Plus recently moved to a new state-of-the-art industrial laundry plant—and to keep pace with booming sales added a second Girbau Industrial (GI) TBS-50 Continuous Batch Tunnel Washing System.
The twin tunnels—capable of processing up to 70,000 pounds of laundry in an 11-hour day—opened the door to new business, dropped water usage to 0.6 gallons of water per laundry pound, and more than doubled production, officials say.
Each system features a 12-module TBS-50 washer, SPR-50 Water Extraction Press and associated conveyor and shuttle systems. These systems share 10 inline ST-100 Dryers (250 pounds of capacity each). All system components are controlled from a central station where customer goods are color-coded and tracked throughout the washing, extraction and drying process.
“We didn’t expect to grow so much so soon,” says owner Rick Rone, who installed the first GI tunnel system just four years ago.
Even though that system added 30,000 pounds of laundry capacity per 10-hour shift, Rone quickly found himself at a production threshold. Business boomed as Rone took on new accounts.
Laundry Plus—focused on delivering a quality product and excellent customer care—promises a 24-hour turnaround on customer-owned goods (COG), and Rone believes it’s this commitment that sets his laundry business apart.
“We were running the first tunnel 24/7 and couldn’t take on any more laundry,” he says.
“We will run food-and-beverage laundry through a tunnel once we have enough volume,” says Rone. “The modules on the tunnels are very flexible. To handle food and beverage (F&B), we can easily heat up the water to 160 degrees and increase transfer times between modules to four minutes.” Currently, they are set for two-minute transfers.
The beauty of the GI tunnel system is its flexibility, according to Rone. It is programmed from a central control, which allows for 99 general programs. Moreover, each of the 12 modules is programmable for water temperature and levels, bath partitions, rapid draining, chemical injection, closing parameters and more. This ensures that customer goods—which vary in thickness, quality and thread count—are properly cleaned.
Once goods move through the tunnels and are pressed into cakes, they are automatically loaded into one of the 10 ST-100 Dryers. Sheets are quickly conditioned and put through the ironing line, while other goods are fully dried and run through the folding line. The dryers feature an infrared temperature sensor that automatically puts them into cool-down mode once goods reach their optimum temperature and are properly dried. This prevents over-drying and fabric damage, according to Rone.
The newest ST-100 Dryers feature optional vacuum loading, which is particularly helpful once the tunnels are shut down for the day. Then, those five dryers are used to dry F&B items that come out of the plant’s large Continental open-pocket washers.
“We start the tunnels at 3:30 in the morning and they are shut down around 3:30 p.m.,” says Rone. “So, the dryers on those lines are still available for us. You put the dryers into manual mode, unload laundry from the tilt washer into a cart, and feed the dryers through the vacuum tubes.”
It’s a quicker, easier way to load a big dryer. “If anything happened to the shuttles, presses or tunnels, we still wouldn’t lose those five dryers. They can be put into manual mode and utilized,” Rone explains.
STREAMLINED AND EFFICIENT
Finding ways, such as this, to utilize equipment and gain efficiencies is critical, according to Rone. Making even small adjustments can improve profits, cut utilities, shave labor hours and streamline productivity. Since moving from the old plant, Laundry Plus has successfully made “huge” efficiency gains.
“We knew there were tremendous efficiencies to be gained from a well-planned plant,” he says. Terry comes out of the dryer closer to the automatic towel folders; flat goods come out of the tunnels and dryers closer to the ironing lines; workstations are ergonomically designed; and transportation within the plant is minimized.
Laundry Plus measures these efficiencies by pounds of laundry per operator hour (PPOH). Since moving to the new plant and installing its second tunnel, another ironing line and more open-pocket washers, Laundry Plus has boosted PPOH by 15-18%, according to Rone.