Working clean: Hotel laundry operations

New equipment and suggested best practices can help hoteliers operate their laundry services more efficiently and cost-effectively, while being gentle on the environment. 

By Don Douloff

Ozone gains traction

In the past several years, ozone-based laundry oxidation has gained traction in the industry. Advocating such a system is Charles Reid, general manager of Haddon Equipment & Supplies, a Vancouver-based company that provides laundry equipment and chemical/ozone systems for hotels in BC and the Yukon.
“Ozone is essential to any successful laundry operation in regards to energy efficiency,” Reid told CLN. An ozone system will save money on hot water, gas and electrical consumption, leaving a much smaller laundry room carbon footprint, he said.
Moreover, “ROI on a properly utilized system and an appropriate volume of laundry is two years or less.” Ozone’s ability to process laundry in cold water reduces hot water consumption by at least 75 per cent, drastically cutting costs, Reid added. In addition, an ozone system will help extend linen life thanks to “less thermal damage in the wash wheel and by reducing drying times, resulting in fewer dollars being spent on linen replacement costs.” Combined with proper use and good operating procedures, hoteliers can realize “substantial” savings with this type of system, he said.
Haddon offers the ozone-based Aquawing system, which washes primarily in cold water, thereby reducing drying time and lessening linen degradation. Ozone relaxes the weave of fabrics, resulting in a more effective wash action. On top of that, ozone’s strong oxidizing nature activates chemicals so that they’ll be used more effectively and efficiently. This reduces the amount of chemicals required and reduces the harm they can cause if they’re not properly rinsed.
Aquawing offers the VO3, a device validating that mandatory levels of ozone have been reached and maintained in the wash wheel, providing disinfection and superior wash results.

True laundry costs

On the service side, to keep costs down and increase efficiency, “hotels need to look at their true laundry cost, such as labour versus per-occupied-room,” said Robert McNamara, national general manager of cleaning-service provider Jani-King Canada.
“Hoteliers need to measure occupancy and the levels of laundry costs together in order to accurately gauge laundry loads. This monitoring activity will keep costs down.”
Hoteliers, said McNamara, need to implement a preventive maintenance program “so that equipment works at its designed capacity. Analyze staffing production levels: labour cost is the largest expense, so hotels need to know what it is taking them to turn their guestroom linens on a daily basis.”
McNamara recommends that hoteliers launder their linens and towels onsite, rather than contracting that service out, which entails operational risks. For instance, there’s no guarantee that all the linens that leave a hotel will be returned; plus, other hotels’ linens could get included in returned batches, he said. “Mistakes are made and hotels are paying for it.” Jani-King’s personnel, he said, function as part of the onsite housekeeping laundry team and work closely with the property’s suppliers to develop a customized training program that best fits the hotel. 

Under-loaded machines

Addressing the common problem of under-loaded washing machines, which waste water, chemicals and time, is Laundrylux’s Compass Pro microprocessor. Introduced in fall, 2013, the Compass Pro measures the weight of the laundry load. If the weight of the linens is less than a full load, the washer automatically adjusts the water and laundry chemicals, for an optimal ratio for the load size.
If a hotel under-loads its system twice a day, the Compass Pro could realize chemical, water and energy savings of $750 annually, according to Laundrylux senior vice president of on-premises laundry sales Kim Shady.
Addressing another common problem, over-drying, is Laundrylux’s Residual Moisture Control (RMC), which measures the moisture content of linens while they’re in the dryer. As the linens dry, the RMC counts down and stops the machine once the linens reach the desired moisture level set by the operator.
Shady estimated that over-drying “happens 60 per cent of the time” and lasts for six to 10 minutes per incident. The RMC is built into the dryer at the factory, at a cost of $350, and in most locations will pay for itself in the first year, he said.

Suspended washers

Pellerin Milnor has introduced the cabinet style MWF-Series of suspended washers available in 60 lb. (27 kg), 100 lb. (45 kg), 140 lb. (63 kg) and 170 lb. (77 kg) capacities.
The MWF27J8 provides efficiency with 300 Gs, for maximum moisture removal; large door opening (15.63 inches) for easy loading/unloading; and user-friendly E-P Plus control in a small footprint.
In addition, Milnor is offering, standard on this product line, RinSave water saver software, which reduces up to two rinse steps, saving water, energy and time without compromising wash/rinse quality.

Higher spin speeds

For his part, Stephen Hietpas, new business development manager at Maytag Commercial Laundry, says hoteliers should consider upgrading washers “to models that have higher spin speeds, which remove more water from linens in the washer. This leads to a reduction in the amount of natural gas consumed in the drying process by shortening the dry times.” Dry times, he noted, “can be cut anywhere from 20 per cent to 40 per cent with higher-extraction washers.”
Furthermore, by working closely with a local chemical supplier, hotel owners and operators can determine the appropriate type and amount of detergent needed to clean the laundry and meet resident or guest expectations, said Hietpas. Incorporating a chemical injection system into the machine will help dispense the precise amount of detergent needed, which ensures the correct amount of chemicals are added to the water and helps guarantee clean laundry.
On the equipment side, the Maytag Commercial Laundry 55-pound soft-mount washer features high-speed extraction of more than 350 G-force, to cut drying time and save on labour and energy costs.
In addition, Maytag Commercial Laundry 75-pound dryers are the most energy-efficient multi-load dryers in the Energy Advantage lineup and feature moisture-sensing technology, improved airflow for faster dry times and a reverse-tumble feature. The dryer senses when the load is dry and shuts down the unit to prevent over-drying, saving time, utility costs and increasing the life of the laundry.

Extra-large capacity

Earlier this year, UniMac, a provider of on-premise commercial laundry equipment distributed in Canada by Harco Co. Ltd., introduced the UT200 200-pound tumble dryer.
The UT200 offers an extra-large capacity and an efficient, high-performance heater box. Sealed cylinder rims and a concentrated airflow pattern ensure no heat escapes, helping to keep utility costs down and maximize productivity.
UniMac also offers its Combustion Auto Response Equipped (CARE) system as an added option for the UT200. CARE monitors for excessive cylinder temperatures and sprays water on the load should it register an abnormally high reading. A “system active” signal can also be sent to a property’s alarm system, laptop or another electronic device to notify the laundry or facility manager.
UniMac’s national sales manager, Bill Brooks, says “on average, labour accounts for 45 per cent to 50 per cent of hotel laundry operating expenses” and that monitoring systems such as the company’s UniLinc product can help hoteliers increase efficiency.
UniLinc’s OPTispray rinsing technology provides highly effective rinsing that uses less water and decreases operating costs, and increases throughput by decreasing rinse-cycle times by up to 12 per cent.
Slow drain detection monitors drain time to catch issues early and reduce maintenance expenses.