Making Sense of Automation: Iron, Fold, Stack

girbau-industrial-ironer-auto_web.jpg

(Photo: Girbau Industrial)

Seth Willer |

Choosing right time to move to flatwork heated-roll ironer or all-in-one

OSHKOSH, Wis. — When does it make sense for a laundry to move from processing done by hand to automated equipment, whether partially or fully automated?

That’s the question.

And that’s why I’m writing this article, to help you figure out if it’s time for your laundry to automate.

I’ll take you through the value of a flatwork ironer vs. hand folding, the value of an all-in-one ironer/folder/stacker vs. a flatwork ironer and the value of all-in-one system with and without an optional feeder.

STEP 1: IRONING FOR QUALITY

Q: Why might a laundry install a flatwork ironer?

A: Quality. Commercial laundries and hotels can charge their clients more for ironed table and bed linens. A basic ironer provides a high-quality finish that improves the look and feel of bedsheets, spa linens and tablecloths. There is a significant difference between pressed and non-pressed sheets; people will pay more for pressed. By adding a flatwork ironer, one can demand a higher rate by offering value-added services.

Since even a basic ironer offers primary automatic folding options, one will step into a small level of automation from the start. These integrated folders will conduct primary folds on king or queen sheets after they are ironed so operators only perform cross-folds and stack.

Is it time to purchase a flatwork, heated-roll ironer? Considerations:

  1. Quality: Improved sheet/tablecloth presentation and guest comfort.
  2. Linen Life: Extended linen life. Items move straight from the washer to the ironer. Automatic ironing speeds remove moisture as items travel through the ironer. This eliminates dryer time and linen wear-and-tear.
  3. Utility Costs: Lower. The flatwork ironer eliminates dryer time, which cuts electricity and natural gas consumption.
  4. Labor: Two operators. Two people feed the ironer, catch, perform secondary folds and stack. The ironer eliminates hands-on primary folding.
  5. Production Threshold: Appropriate for laundries processing 20 to 180 washing pounds per hour.
  6. Sheets per Minute/Hour: 2/120.
  7. Pounds Per Operating Hour (PPOH): 91 (assuming 1.8 pounds per sheet at 85% efficiency). GOOD!

STEP TWO: IRONING FOR QUALITY & PRODUCTION

Q: Why would a laundry move from a basic flatwork ironer to an all-in-one machine that irons, folds and stacks?

A: When a laundry gets above 180 washing pounds per hour, a more automated system makes sense. When you go to a machine that automatically irons, folds and stacks, laundries eliminate almost all hands-on folding and stacking, which is now performed by the machine.

In the previous example when describing a basic flatwork ironer, operators must feed, catch and perform secondary folding. With a higher-production all-in-one machine, operators feed sheets. The primary folding, secondary folding and stacking are all automatically performed for boosted quality and production.

Is it time to install an automated ironer/folder/stacker? Considerations:

  1. Quality: Improved sheet/tablecloth presentation and guest comfort. Fully automated folding results in better consistency for folds and stacks.
  2. Linen Life: Extended linen life. Items still move straight from the washer to the ironer. Automatic ironing speeds remove moisture as items travel through the ironer. This eliminates dryer time and linen wear-and-tear.
  3. Utility Costs: Lower. The all-in-one ironing system eliminates dryer time, which cuts electricity and natural gas consumption.
  4. Labor: Two operators. The machine eliminates all hands-on folding and stacking. The operators feed only.
  5. Production Threshold: Appropriate for laundries processing 180 to 260 washing pounds per hour.
  6. Sheets per Minute/Hour: 2.5/150 (24-inch all-in-one machine) or 3.5/210 (32-inch all-in-one machine).
  7. Pounds Per Operating Hour (PPOH): 160 (assuming 1.8 pounds per sheet at 85% efficiency). BETTER!

STEP 3: EXPANDING ON STEP 2 WITH THE ADDITION OF OPTIONAL SPREADER/FEEDER

Q: What’s the benefit of adding an optional spreader/feeder to the all-in-one machine?

A: Some all-in-one machines have options for spreader/feeders. The benefit of adding the optional spreader/feeder is twofold: It improves quality and reduces labor. A single operator uses spreading clamps for automatic feeding into the ironer/folder/stacker. The automatic spreader/feeder ensures a straight feed, which contributes to a higher-quality finished product. Considerations:

  1. Quality: Improved sheet/tablecloth presentation and guest comfort. Fully automated folding results in better consistency for folds and stacks.
  2. Linen Life: Extended linen life. Items move straight from the washer to the ironer. Automatic ironing speeds remove moisture as items travel through the ironer. This eliminates dryer time and linen wear-and-tear.
  3. Utility Costs: Lower. The all-in-one machine eliminates dryer time, which cuts electricity and natural gas consumption.
  4. Labor: One operator. The machine eliminates hands-on feeding of one operator and all hands-on folding and stacking.
  5. Production Threshold: Appropriate for laundries processing 180 to 260 washing pounds per hour.
  6. Sheets per Minute/Hour: 2.5/150.
  7. Pounds Per Operating Hour (PPOH): Up to 229 (assuming 1.8 pounds per sheet at 85% efficiency). BEST!

I hope going through these steps, along with the question-and-answer insights, will help you see the value of each system from good to better to best—in terms of automation.

In a future article, I'll look at determining the right time to move from a flatwork ironer or all-in-one machine to a high-volume chest ironing system.

About the author

Seth Willer

Girbau Industrial

National Sales Manager

Seth Willer, national sales manager for Girbau Industrial, has expertise in on-premises and industrial laundry design, equipment, workflow and productivity.

Advertisement

Latest Podcast

As laundry/linen services grow and technology advances, they look to build new plants or renovate existing structures. Find out from Ed Kwasnick of ARCO/Murray what operators are looking for in design and construction today, and into the future.

Want more? Visit the archive »

Digital Edition

Latest Classifieds