Commercial Laundry: David Griggs, Superior Linen Service, Muskogee, Okla.
No matter how small or large a laundry is, there are some key areas to watch that can really save some money:
1. Ensure you are loading your washing equipment with the proper poundage. When you under load your machinery, you will increase the water and steam usage for that load, and it will also cause you to run more loads to get your poundage through the plant. These increased loads through the plant will increase your chemical usage.
Small loads coming out of the washers will mean small loads going into your dryers. Small dryer loads usually take longer to dry than proper-sized loads do.
2. Keep a close eye on your rejects. I have seen linen that may have a stain just be sent back to the soil room to get rewashed. If the stain doesn’t come out, it gets sent back again and starts the cycle all over again. This stain cycle can really bog a laundry down. A laundry must wash the linen, stain wash any rejects and then rag the linen out if a stain remains.
3. Always look to squeeze your hours. Don’t allow machinery to be turned on early or left running when the day is done. Air compressors and boilers are notoriously turned on early and left running late. This habit is a tough one to break and can cost you a lot of energy throughout the year.
4. Use a proper preventive maintenance/predictive maintenance system. A huge part of increasing production in the plant and saving money is ensuring the equipment is running correctly. There are numerous good preventive maintenance systems around. These systems help ensure that your maintenance schedule is being properly run.
It also helps you schedule predictive maintenance projects, such as air cylinders that are made for a definite number of cycles until they need to be replaced. Replace them before they shut production down. Decreasing production downtime should always be priority for your management and maintenance staff.
Equipment/Supply Distribution: Janice Ayers Davis, TLC Tri-State Laundry Companies, Valdosta, Ga.
Running a cost-efficient laundry is an ongoing process. While the devil can be in the details, the details are critical.
There are many factors to consider, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Cross Training—Every employee, regardless of their objective should have an opportunity and an obligation to learn additional roles. The payoff is critical, especially in times of staff shortage, such as vacations and inclement weather.
- Reporting—If you can’t track, you can’t measure the success of a process. Manual reporting and up-to-date software will provide critical insight regarding the daily operation.
- Laundry Equipment—Purchasing and maintaining reliable, energy-efficient equipment is paramount to the success of the laundry operation.
- Planned Maintenance (PM) and Service Contracts—The return on the investment can reduce downtime and increase longevity.
- Parts—Maintaining a small inventory of “frequently used parts” for fast replacement, without incapacitating production.
- Scheduling—Planning for cyclical periods to include sparse and peak periods.
Mike Horne, director of engineering for The Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel in Atlanta, is very familiar with the importance of managing cost without sacrificing quality in his daily operation of this bustling five-star hotel.
Below are several “best practices” Mr. Horne employs in no particular order.
Janice Ayers Davis
He reviews lighting to make certain all lights are LED and spaced appropriately for the associates’ ease of working.
Horne routinely reviews steam pipe insulation to confirm they are still in good shape. Steam lines generate a massive amount of heat and trying to overcome that heat with air conditioning is tough to do; thus, he wants to insure all piping is insulated well.
He often checks with the mechanic or contractor to insure all steam traps on the ironers are working as they are designed. Steam condensate backing up or not flowing as it should affects the operation of the ironers. This is a major part on the machines that has to work effectively.
Additionally, Horne reviews the canopy covers on ironers to ensure they are in good condition (holding in the heat from the ironer and not being vented into the room), making certain each exhaust fan is working as it should to remove this heat.
When purchasing new machines, he seeks high-efficiency motors for the best operation.
Regarding planned maintenance, Horne says, “Nothing takes the place of a PM program. It is the most important item when dealing with laundry operations. The equipment (which can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars) must be maintained. The investment that companies make must be preserved, and there is no substitute for a good preventative maintenance program.
“Keeping lint out of equipment (especially air-cooled machines) can prevent catastrophic issues such as fires and premature failures, which I have personally witnessed.”
According to Horne, a water reclamation system, such as the one Westin uses, can save the company thousands of gallons of recycled water for the washers. On average, about 70% is recycled.
I am confident the readers have employed many of these as well as other best practices to ensure you run a safe, effective and efficient laundry.
Equipment Manufacturing: Brock Pellerin, Pellerin Milnor Corp., Kenner, La.
Staying on top of utility, operational and labor costs is a never-ending battle for laundries.
Laundries that fail to keep these costs down run the risk of being competitively disadvantaged to their competitors, which means they might have to charge more for their services, or worse, go out of business altogether. Therefore, keeping up with business-related costs is a never-ending, necessary battle for a thriving laundry.
For utilities, perform scheduled preventative maintenance on your equipment. Preventative maintenance will keep your equipment in top operating condition and may reveal why a specific utility cost is trending higher.
Simply walking your laundry after operating hours can allow you to hear air leaks that keep compressors running, water leaks and/or steam leaks, which keep energy costs high. Consider LED lighting for your plant if you are not using it now. The ROI for installing LED lighting can be quite appealing in many cases.
Make sure you have washing equipment that utilizes low water consumption without compromising wash quality. Keep an eye on your utility costs each month; if you notice spikes, you know that you might have a leaky water valve that needs to be fixed or some other problem that needs to be addressed.
If your plant uses open-pocket washer-extractors or side loaders, you might want to consider a look into a water reclamation system so that you can reuse some of that water to cut city water and sewer costs.
Labor costs are on so many operators’ minds right now, so consider using equipment that reduces labor costs. While tunnel washers use considerably less water than a conventional washer-extractor, they also require much less labor to run the system. Therefore, an ROI from conventional washers to a tunnel system can usually be less than three years if you are processing 3 million pounds or more annually.
Tunnel washers also wash faster than conventional washers, so that means less time to process the goods, which leads to more labor savings.
Always remember to annually review insurance policies to make sure you are getting best pricing for your coverage. Many businesses forget to review insurance policies, and it can hurt them when disaster strikes—and just by paying too much unnecessarily for their policy.
Review your business taxes with your accountant to make sure you are using the full tax code to your advantage. In many cases, buying new equipment that saves on utility costs also come with tax breaks; make sure you are using this feature of the tax code.
Search and apply for grants that might help in providing money to buy new equipment that you need in your plant. Finding people who know how to write grants is easy, and it is a low risk but high reward if you get the grant.
Check back Thursday for the conclusion with advice from experts in healthcare laundry, consulting services and uniform/workwear manufacturing.