SALISBURY, Md. — By successfully serving small commercial accounts from one of his two coin-operated laundries, Mitch Wyatt nurtured a reputation that today has him handling the laundry needs of major hospitality, healthcare and food and beverage clients. Recently, to meet increasing production needs, Wyatt moved his commercial business into a newly constructed industrial laundry facility here.
The Quality Linen Services building turns out 1,700 laundry pounds per hour, using minimal labor, water and energy — giving Wyatt the opportunity to draw new clients and boost profits.
PROGRAMMABLE BY CUSTOMER
Each of the Girbau Industrial TBS-50 Eco-Tunnel’s seven modules is programmable for duration of the wash cycle, water temperature and levels, bath partitions, rapid draining, chemical injection, mechanical action, closing parameters and more.
“We’ve preprogrammed the computer by customer and all of the items they use,” says Wyatt. “This is vital with customer-owned goods because we can separate each customer’s linens by color code in the system and track them throughout. They don’t want to lose their linens.”
One of Wyatt’s hospital clients, for example, has 20 items, including bed pads, sheets, gowns, scrubs, blankets and towels. “Each item, one through 20, is programmed differently,” he says. Similarly, hotel items—sheets, pillowcases, towels and mats—are each programmed differently. At any time, the Quality Linen staff can see where items are in the cleaning process: the Eco-Tunnel, conveyor, press or dryer.
HOW IT WORKS
From a touch-screen station, one employee runs the Continuous Washing System. He or she selects a customer number and program on the Eco-Tunnel’s central computer screen and loads the tunnel conveyor, which automatically weighs each 110-pound load. The conveyor moves the goods up an incline, where they are automatically loaded into the first module of the tunnel washer. Every 110-pound load travels through seven modules, and each module is programmed to perform a function for four to six minutes, such as pre-wash, wash, rinse, etc. After the programmed time duration, the load is automatically transferred to the next module.
The Eco-Tunnel uses less than a gallon of water per laundry pound and completes even the dirtiest 110-pound load in 42 minutes, according to Wyatt.
“I like everything about it,” he says. “It operates off of steam, has a drain-water heat reclaim system, filters, and then reuses 60 to 70% of the water.” As the central component of the Continuous Washing System, the tunnel reuses rinse and extracted water for pre-wash. Because water is recycled, less water is used and heated, lowering associated costs.
Once a load travels through every tunnel module, it enters the press, where it’s pressed—and water is extracted—until linens resemble a condensed “cake.” Via another conveyor system, each cake is loaded into an open dryer. Sheets are quickly separated in the dryer and run through the ironing line still damp, while towels are completely dried and subsequently run through the laundry’s automated folding and sorting systems.
Once the cakes—sheets, pillowcases, tablecloths and napkins—are separated in the dryers, they are run through an ironing line while damp. Two attendants feed the ironer, processing 80 feet of linen per minute. Ninety percent efficient, the gas ironer is also programmable to meet specific needs, according to Wyatt, and automatically adapts cylinder speed according to linen type and moisture content. This eliminates the need to dry linens before running them through the ironing line, which saves natural gas and production time.
“We can finish 400 sheets per hour using this ironer,” he says. “To have a piece of equipment finish so many different item types is amazing.” Once ironed, the various napkins, tablecloths, sheets and pillowcases are automatically folded.
FOLDING DRY GOODS
Meanwhile, dry goods, such as towels, gowns, robes and bath mats, are fully dried and put through an automatic folder, which processes 1,200 items per hour. A variety of items are fed into the folder one after another, where they are automatically folded according to pre-programmed fold specifications, sorted and stacked. “The folder allows us to wash and dry different items, like hospital gowns, towels and bath mats, in one load,” says Wyatt. “It eliminates the need for up to two operators.”
PRODUCTIVITY, EFFICIENCY, SERVICE
Thus far, Quality Linen is processing 100 pounds of laundry per operator hour (PPOH), but Wyatt hopes to improve that number by 20%. “Quality and productivity are so much greater,” he says. “We were getting good quality before from our Continental washer, but from the Eco-Tunnel, we are getting superior quality.”
The facility is capable of processing 95,000 pounds of laundry per week using one shift, or, using two, processing 190,000 pounds. Simultaneously, Wyatt maintains he’s able to properly serve a variety of customers.
“We have clients with customer-owned goods who rely on us to provide superior service,” he says. “Because of our advanced technologies and equipment, we can clean, finish, and track virtually any item, according to our clients’ specific needs.” And that, Wyatt says, is what sets Quality Linen apart.