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Mailbag: Director of Engineering Weighs In on Wash Formula Development

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Letters.
(Photo: ©iStockphoto.com/MBPHOTO)

I enjoyed part one of your article on wash formulas in American Laundry News [Choosing Wash Formulas: Accounting for changing variables key to good results, posted online May 6]. It was thorough and covered many considerations.

My suggestion is to focus on one of the observations that was made referring to customer considerations, such as processing time and wastewater costs. I think that this leads to what should be the key point of the article: I would say that a professional formulator should first and foremost consider the laundry’s entire situation, needs and capabilities before deciding on wash formula strategies. Your article touched on many of these, and a formulator has to consider all factors, yet to be successful they must concentrate on the most critical goals and any parameters that are unfortunate, but unchangeable.

For example, I would say that it’s a given that specific formulas tailored to the goods and soil can be more efficient and cost-effective than any general formula. However, one has to consider the machinery that is present and the operator training. If the washers being used have only 20 possible formulas, yet there are more classifications of goods than 20, compromises must be made.

Also, if the operators aren’t going to consistently select the correct formulas, sort properly and load properly, then high quality at the lowest cost isn’t going to be achievable. Or, if the washers have an inadequate supply of hot water, have poor-quality water, or are poorly maintained, results are going to be disappointing.

My point is that I would start designing a wash program of chemicals and formulas from the limitations present, both physical and economic. Then, one can deal with materials, speed requirements, soil and water conditions, etc.

Another decision process involves the type of chemicals to be used and how many. For instance, being employed by a chemical manufacturer, I’m very aware of the specialty products that can solve particular problems. I also know that combination products can reduce inventory issues and eliminate other complications such as the washers only having five chemical signals.

Also, sometimes the economics of the account only support the use of less-than-ideal injection equipment. (When a customer only buys a small amount of product per year, the chemical company cannot install the most expensive dispenser available to them for free.) So, again, one should focus on the most critical goals and the given parameters.

What I’m trying to say is that every situation is different, so start by identifying goals, then limitations, then economic realities. Make all the decisions based on these three factors.

David Barbe

Director of Engineering

U.N.X. Incorporated

Greenville, N.C.

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