Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online
January 2014 Feature 4

Sustainable Laundry Room Practices

New washing technologies raise standards and meet the needs of sustainable facilities.

January 7, 2014

According to recent MIT survey, nearly a third of companies now say that the adoption of sustainable practices has added to their profitability, with 25 percent of companies citing “improved innovation in products and services” as one of the top benefits they derived through sustainable practices.

Regardless of where they operate or in which industry, facilities are expected to embrace sustainable practices in order to “go green.”

One place where businesses such as hotels and hospitals can make improvements to their sustainability, environmental impact and bottom line is in their on-premises laundry rooms.

By installing or upgrading to eco-efficient laundry operations, managers can positively impact the environment and their bottom line.

To help managers achieve this, laundry manufacturers have developed new technology on their washer-extractors and tumble dryers to reduce water, gas and energy consumption.

New technologies are readily available to raise the standard of laundry operations and meet the needs of sustainable facilities. 

Washer-extractors

A recent commercial washer-extractor upgrade from one manufacturer is a spray rinse technology designed to reduce water and energy use.

The feature’s spray rinsing power easily carries away dirt and chemicals compared to the traditional bath-rinse-only method, which simply dilutes wash chemistry.

The new technology leaves behind less residue to provide a better rinse and to extend linen life.

When facility managers use effective spray rinsing, they are able to minimize the water required to rinse a load and reduce cycle time by 12 percent.

The feature can deliver water savings of up to 39 percent compared to conventional rinsing.

Additionally, when there is less water used in a cycle, less gas or electricity is needed to heat it.

The water and energy savings from spray rinse technology can reduce a facility’s utility costs by more than $2,000 a year.

The shorter cycle times also enable increased productivity by delivering greater throughput.

High extraction speeds are another important feature of commercial washer-extractors that help achieve optimal sustainability.

Increasing the tub’s rotating speed to 400 G-force puts centrifugal force to work by removing more water during the wash cycle.

Maximizing water removal with high extraction speeds can decrease drying times and gas usage by as much as 35 percent.

Tumble Dryers

An on-premises laundry room’s greatest source of energy savings can come from tumble dryers equipped with over-dry prevention technology.

This technology uses sensors to read dryness levels throughout the entire load and shuts the dryer off automatically once the optimal level has been reached.

Moisture-sensing capabilities eliminate the issue of over-drying, which is a common occurrence in laundry rooms.

Over-dry prevention technology has demonstrated a fast return on investment (ROI).

A facility with this technology can potentially eliminate eight minutes of over-drying per load to save more than $800 a year in gas costs alone.

Thus, eco-efficient commercial laundry is more than an environmentally-conscious practice; it is also a sound fiscal practice to support a facility’s bottom line. 

Control Systems

The good news is that these recent technological advances of laundry equipment are supported by operating control systems that can audit the environmental impact of effective laundry management.

An intelligent control system will monitor machines’ performance and report inefficiencies in how the equipment is being used, or send regular maintenance reminders, saving managers time and money.

The same control system is offered on washer-extractors and tumble dryers to provide ease-of-use across all machines and help achieve maximum efficiency.

Some control systems offer more than 40 different wash cycles, making it possible for facility managers to choose the most efficient, and therefore most environmentally-friendly, cycles for a variety of loads.

To further meet their sustainability goals, managers can work with their laundry chemical suppliers to program customized temperature settings, water fill levels and cycle times.

Managers using an advanced control platform are also able to tell when a machine has been under-loaded by an employee, which is a significant waste of resources.

The control system’s pre-set cycle levels dictate the amount of energy used for a load, so if the machine is not optimally filled with linens, excess resources are being wasted.

Employee training about energy efficiency and water conservation may be necessary to ensure the best use of the technology and laundry equipment.

Finally, some control systems monitor for specific problems, such as water leaks, and automatically send maintenance notifications when one is detected.

If a leak in a hose at the back of the machine goes unnoticed, a facility is literally sending water and money down the drain.

Real-time updates alert a manager or operator of issues to ensure maximum efficiency.

Smart Management

Thanks to new environmentally-friendly technology used with control systems, sustainable laundry practices go hand-in-hand with smart management.

With increased knowledge, managers can evaluate the effectiveness of technology and how it affects a facility’s sustainability.

An advanced control system provides managers with equipment performance and staff operations reports to determine laundry room efficiency.

Furthermore, management can also quickly calculate the ROI and see the impact, both financially and environmentally, of the green technology.

Without this information, it is hard to hold technology, equipment and staff accountable for eco-efficient operations.

The decision to be more sustainable is a large step for companies.

Investing in laundry machines with innovative technology and advanced control systems will supply the necessary information to effectively and sustainably manage the laundry room.

 

 

Craig Madson, a national accounts manager for UniMac, is responsible for the management and development of national account opportunities for Alliance Laundry Systems. He has more than 10 years of professional experience in the laundry industry, having served in various marketing and sales positions for Alliance brands, most recently as a UniMac regional sales manager. He can be reached at Craig.Madson@AllianceLS.com.