RIPON, Wis. — As we wrap up another year and plan for 2017, it’s an appropriate time to look ahead at what’s to come for on-premises laundries (OPL).
Over the years, OPL equipment and machines have undergone numerous advancements that are helping increase facility efficiencies. For example, today’s equipment has seen a drastic improvement in its ability to reduce energy and water consumption, thereby increasing efficiencies and lowering utility and labor expenses.
In addition, advanced control systems and monitoring capabilities have revolutionized how OPL managers do their jobs—they’re able to stay constantly connected to their laundry operation, keeping a close eye on machine performance at all times.
When you think back on the innovation that has occurred with OPL equipment over the past decade, it’s exciting to anticipate where this next year will take us. Here are three top OPL trends that you should take into consideration when setting goals for the year ahead.
KEEP AN EYE ON EFFICIENCY
One of the strongest trends in 2017 is continual improvement of efficiency in the laundry room.
OPL managers will continue to be faced with the need to increase throughput while reducing operating expenses. Advanced control systems and high-end, cloud-based monitoring and reporting tools help meet these goals by providing key laundry operation data and performance reports that managers can use to make immediate adjustments to improve efficiency, assure quality and lower operating costs.
UniMac® Sales Manager Scott Peregoy believes that managing the efficiency of the laundry room operation through technology is a trend that will get more traction in 2017.
“I would say the majority of the industry is not there yet,” says Peregoy. “But as customers start to fully understand this technology, and how it has an impact on efficiencies as well as their bottom line, we will see more and more facilities adopt monitoring capabilities.”
These advancements in real-time and remote monitoring capabilities also enable distributor service departments to assist OPL managers in monitoring their facilities, ensuring machines are running at maximum efficiency.
These tools help Eric Higgins, vice president of sales and co-owner of Bestway Laundry in Corona, Calif., keep an eye on how his customers’ machines are running. Through this technology, Bestway, which services and sells laundry equipment for the hospitality and healthcare industries, as well as sporting venues, is able to monitor its customers’ machines remotely.
“Monitoring capabilities help us assist OPL managers in running their facilities smoothly,” says Higgins. “Our service department is able to monitor the machines and can alert the facility when things aren’t working properly. This helps avoid unnecessary, costly downtime.”
SUSTAINED EFFORT TO BE ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIOUS
Working hand in hand with a need for greater efficiency in laundry facilities is the need for more of them to adopt “green” laundry technology. Conservation of water and energy is a win-win for all laundry facilities. These efforts not only help enhance bottom lines and produce a high wash quality, but also help make an operation more environmentally responsible overall.
The idea of operating in a “green-friendly” manner is always top of mind for Higgins, who services facilities in an area of California that has largely been affected by drought.
“In California, water is always a big concern,” he says. “We’re constantly looking for ways we can either use less water or clean and reuse water through recycling.”
That’s why Higgins recommends his customers consider state-of-the-art washer-extractors, which are engineered with water savings in mind. For example, technology is available that is designed with unique spray hardware and software that minimizes the water required to rinse a load and reduces cycle time with highly effective rinsing. This technology uses less water than a bath rinse alone, while also reducing cycle rinse times and removing wash formulas to preserve linens. Because the spray rinse carries away dirt and chemicals and leaves less residue, the result is a superior wash.
Advancements in energy savings will also be a major focus of green technology to come. While energy is about 15% of an OPL’s operations cost, tumble dryers account for 70% of that cost. It’s important for OPL managers to look for ways to lower drying times, which will in turn lower their facilities’ utility bills and save them a significant amount of energy, making their operation friendlier to the environment.
Laundry facility managers should consider using tumble dryers that accurately sense dryness levels. For example, OPL tumble dryers with cutting-edge technology can stop the machine at the exact moment that your ideal dryness level is reached, eliminating expenses associated with drying loads too long. Sensors running the entire length of each commercial tumble dryer lifter connect to a rotary transfer switch to offer accurate readings throughout the entire load, ensuring that your laundry stops precisely at your desired dryness level. This type of technology provides an average savings of eight minutes a load and more than $5,000 annually in utility and labor costs.
Peregoy agrees that one of the most environmentally friendly steps you can take in your facility is to reduce washing and drying times.
“The greenest thing you can do is use your machines less and get more production out of them,” says Peregoy. “The more throughput you get for your machines, the greener you’ll be by default. You’ll be running them less, using less water and using less electricity because you’re getting better production.”
ADDRESSING THE NEED FOR SPACE AND TRAINING
Laundry rooms have consistently gotten smaller over the years, and that trend will likely continue in 2017. Therefore, laundry room spaces and equipment mixes will need to be conscientious of space.
“When I started in the industry 30 years ago, they gave us big laundry rooms that we could fill with bulky equipment,” says Higgins. “Now, we have to be very smart when designing equipment mixes. With limited space comes the need to outfit facilities with equipment that’s efficient in its footprint.”
In addition to an effective laundry room footprint, training of laundry room staff will become imperative in the year or years to come. Staff should be trained on how to best operate advanced controls in order for the machines to operate at optimal efficiency.
“Given that advanced controls are the future of OPL facilities, it’ll be important for laundry room staff to properly manage the machines’ functions and capabilities,” says Peregoy. “That way, you’ll get the most out of your equipment.”