OSHKOSH, Wis. — Machine flexibility is critical to how your laundry functions now and into the future. Today, we’re facing a pandemic that’s taken lives and shut down the world’s economy. We never expected to have to shelter in place because of a virus. But, laundry owners with flexible equipment are at an advantage. They have the ability to alter machine locations, programming and vending. Some even have the adaptability to add critical features to meet Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) laundering guidelines and/or provide disinfection.

So what do you look for when it comes to machine flexibility? The ability to interface with third-party systems, onboard washer programming that can be easily modified, and installation flexibility. I’ll address the first of these here in Part 1.

THIRD-PARTY INTERFACE FLEXIBILITY

This is the most important capability of machine flexibility because it allows you adaptability to adjust machine performance to work with payment systems, chemical injection, ozone delivery systems and auxiliary electric or steam heat kits. After all, no one knows what the future holds, or what process requirements your customers and local health authority might require in order for you to remain “essential and open.”

Payment systems provide the ability to program washer cycles and alter vend prices; run specials and time-of-day or day-of-week promotions; view number of turns and revenue; offer loyalty programs; and communicate with and complement point-of-sale systems and customer interfaces. A high-level communication interface between the machine and the payment solution is a must!

Machines must be able to work in concert with chemicals, pump systems, ozone or UV disinfection systems, especially given the current COVID-19 pandemic. All three, if automatically injected into the wash cycle, can disinfect laundry. (Beware: Only certain washers can be used with ozone and some commercial chemistry due to seals, gaskets and rubber fittings that are not up to the duty of withstanding their aggressive nature.)

Choose a washer that’s adaptable to work with an auxiliary electric heat kit. That kit can heat the water to extremely high temperatures for sustained periods without upgrading your hot water system. If you plan to meet CDC guidelines, washers must be programmable by temperature to hit and hold 160 F. Most vend washers do not have this capability out-of-the-box, and even fewer have the flexibility of upgrades to meet this target water temperature if it ever becomes a requirement.

An independently controlled, third water inlet valve is also a nice washer feature, or optional add-on. This allows different additives to be introduced into the wash wheel through independent introduction of water, with a diluted substance, during a specific part of the cycle. This includes deionized water and/or ozone injection delivered through a cold water line.

Check back Thursday for the conclusion!