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As Utility Costs Rise, You're Wise to Seek Energy-Saving Solutions

Bruce Beggs |

As laundry utility costs continue to rise, operators are wise to seek out energy-saving equipment and chemicals to boost their bottom line.
A quick check of the industry reveals just some of the opportunities worth exploring:
• Washer-extractors – On the wash aisle, new generations of washer-extractors are being designed to take advantage of higher and higher extraction speeds to wring even more water out of cleaned textiles. Lower moisture retention translates to shorter drying times.
High-speed extraction can eliminate the need for preconditioning of items to be ironed. In some instances, flatwork can be fed directly into a flatwork ironer without prior drying.
Advanced microprocessor controls enable operators to program features such as water temperature, automatic supply injection, automatic rotation time, step time, extract time and a choice of extract speeds to achieve quality washing while maximizing energy use.
Variable-frequency drives require lower inrush current to accelerate to extract speed than standard drives, thus reducing power costs.
• Tunnel washers – Because a tunnel washer uses different cylinders or modules for each bath and moves the goods automatically from one bath to the next, the water is reused over and over by traveling in the opposite direction. This saves about two-thirds of the water. Using less water also reduces the energy needed to heat water, thus saving fuel.
• Presses and centrifugal extractors – Extraction equipment used in tandem with automated wash systems remove high quantities of water from processed goods, thus dryers and flatwork ironers in the laundry require less heat energy.
• Ozone laundry systems – Since an ozone laundry system works best using cold water, it can decrease or even eliminate a laundry’s hot-water consumption. Ozone use also decreases the cycle time for washers because there are fewer steps to get textiles clean. Fewer chemicals are needed for cleaning, so fewer chemicals remain on textiles, making them easier to dry.
• Dryers – Advanced drum designs circulate the heat to the best advantage, and onboard residual moisture sensors can automatically prevent overdrying.
• Low-temperature detergents – There are products on the market designed to eliminate stains at 120 F rather that the typical 160 F temperature of conventional laundering.
• Boilers and direct-contact water heaters – New generations of this equipment constantly push the fuel efficiency threshold.
• Water reuse/recycling systems – These types of systems filter or otherwise remove contaminants from wastewater for its reuse, which in turns saves on energy needed to heat the water.
• Heat recovery systems – Equipment such as heat exchangers and stack economizers recover a portion of the heat from dryer/tumbler and boiler exhaust, thus lowering fuel consumption.
Of course, laundry operators need to determine what innovations or equipment improvements would be the best fit within their existing operations and what would provide the best returns not only in energy and fuel savings but also in product quality, productivity and overall cost reduction.
But an operator looking for the means to save energy and fuel will find many vendors in the market that are eager to demonstrate their wares.
 

About the author

Bruce Beggs

American Trade Magazines LLC

Editorial Director, American Trade Magazines LLC

Bruce Beggs is editorial director of American Trade Magazines LLC, including American Coin-Op, American Drycleaner and American Laundry News. He was the editor of American Laundry News from November 1999 to May 2011. Beggs has worked as a newspaper reporter/editor and magazine editor since graduating from Kansas State University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. He and his wife, Sandy, have two children.

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