CHICAGO — Packaging options vary widely across the laundry industry, with choices ranging from simple twine-bound stacks and poly bags to manual tabletop and console poly film wrappers and ultimately high-end automated poly film shrink tunnel systems, says Tim Davis of Davis Packaging, a provider of laundry packaging solutions.
“Historically, packaging has been an afterthought relative to the actual laundering processes, leaving many operations scrambling to meet customer requirements or failing to adequately protect newly cleaned product at delivery and incurring extra costs or low customer satisfaction,” he says.
Each of the popular wrapping options have a place in healthcare, hospitality and rental, whether on or off premises, Davis shares.
“Focusing on and prioritizing your customer needs, minimizing loss and contamination, and delivery presentation are the ultimate criteria for selecting the best packaging solution for you,” he adds.
Manual tabletop and console poly cling wrappers provide one of the most economical and easiest to use packaging solutions for any item requiring basic packaging up to the highest level of care, says Davis.
Manual wrappers range from compact tabletop units to freestanding console models and utilize a transparent cling poly film, rather than shrink film, to custom fit and seal stacked bundles of laundry.
“The non-shrink cling film significantly reduces wrinkling and bunching associated with banding/bagging and shrink films and prevents packages from sliding during transport or storage,” Davis points out. “The visually appealing clear packaging also allows easy identification of contents without opening packages.”
From a cost standpoint, he says the “use what you need” nature of cling film makes it more economical than single-sized, fixed-cost bags.
“Whether favorite jeans and shirts, table and bed linens, uniforms, or towels, neatly finished contents are securely wrapped in a fully sealed, transparent package, protecting contents from dirt, contamination, loss, and separation during delivery and storage,” says Davis. “Manual wrappers have a place in any sized operation across all industries.”
Semi- and fully automated shrink tunnel systems provide a similar-looking package as their manual counterparts but bring additional automation over the manual wrappers desired for high-volume standardized packaging needs, Davis shares.
Bundles of finished stacked laundry is generally fed down a conveyor system to a sealing station where poly shrink film is loosely sealed around the bundle. The sealed bundles continue by conveyor to a heated tunnel, which shrinks the film around the shape of the package.
“These advanced systems are highly configurable for manual sealing or fully automated processing,” he says. “While similar in look to manually sealed packages, most shrink-sealed bundles do require additional care during packaging setup to avoid bunching and wrinkling during the shrink phase and toppling if stacked during transport or storage due to the slippery quality of some shrink films.”
Shrink wrapping is the most common form of bundling in the laundry industry, according to Neal Dowding, product marketing manager for packaging solutions company Felins.
“Systems such as our TP300 wrapping system provides a tight, high-clarity plastic wrap around your linen bundles automatically,” he says. “This allows the product to travel from point A to point B with complete coverage and protection. For company branding or track and trace capabilities, you can also apply labels to the plastic with no residue on the linen.”
For hospitality applications where the linen must be covered/wrapped, Bunn recommends using recycled paper for the wrapping process and then secure with twine.
“Typically when a laundry uses plastic wrap for bundling, the linen is not completely dry when wrapped,” he says. “When using the recycled paper and a tying machine to secure the paper and the bundle, it will allow the linens to breath while stored and therefore not retaining moisture creating a foul odor.”
MAKING THE CHOICE
Ross Sanders, CEO of Streamline Solutions, a provider of many types of laundry bagging products, recommends that laundry operations not rush to decide on packaging because there are many options available in the marketplace.
“Different materials, sizes and thicknesses need to be looked at and analyzed to see what works best for the laundry’s individual situation. Try different samples,” he recommends. “Like what we do with our customers, the laundries need to speak directly with their respective packaging vendor and discuss exactly what they are trying to accomplish for themselves and their own customers.”
“While cheap and easy may get the job done, it does little for growth and long-term customer satisfaction,” Davis points out. “The quality of your deliverable will be what you are remembered for, not the behind-the-scenes effort invested in the initial wash. It may be a single solution or a combination, just don’t ignore the significance of your packaging.”
Miss Part 1 on tying, strapping and bagging options? Click HERE to read it.