Your laundry operation has invested in new, modern efficient equipment. It’s flexible and by all appearances, it’s producing decent results. But, is the laundry operation really improved from where it was before? Processing more loads? Running more efficiently? By contrast, what if your operation hasn’t upgraded equipment in years? Would moving out those relics move the needle in the key areas of efficiency and productivity? The bottom line is that in the laundry, like most other operations, you can’t improve what you can’t measure.
Consult with an expert
The first step toward getting a better grasp of overall operations and costs is enlisting the help of your laundry equipment distributor. Some of the best in the business can provide a laundry operating cost analysis as a starting point.
“Most operations, laundry or otherwise, are often expected to do more with less; in essence drive out costs and raise production,” said Bill Brooks, North American Sales Manager for UniMac, a leader in the commercial laundry equipment industry. “The base for any process changes is gaining a true understanding of where costs exist.” By going through this exercise, managers will start to see where inefficiencies exist as well as what positive impacts equipment upgrades could deliver. “There can tend to be an ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’ way of thinking in terms of equipment,” Brooks said. “Managers are surprised at how quickly new equipment can improve RoI when increased efficiency and production are factored in.”
Features to consider
The first area that managers should look at upgrading is extract speed. While many old washers may only produce an extract speed in the area of 80 to 100 G-Force, today’s modern washer-extractors are capable of reaching 300 to 400 G-Force. The end results are more moisture removal from loads, which shortens drying times and reduces utility consumption. An additional benefit of the faster cycle times is improved production levels.
Control flexibility is equally important. Laundries should look for washer-extractors that not only give them greater control to tailor cycles, but make it easy to adjust wash variables. This level of flexibility and ease of use ensures operations can adapt to any future changes to linens or processes.
On the drying side, some of today’s tumble dryers utilize over-dry prevention technology. This feature virtually eliminates to risk of over drying of loads. Advanced sensing technology dries to a set moisture level and shuts off the tumble dryer. This technology not only saves utilities and staff time, but there’s an added benefit – longer linen life.
“Our in-house testing showed that over-drying by even just 8 minutes can cost an operation more than $800 in utilities and $4,000 in labor over the course of a year,” Brooks said, adding that there is 31 percent less fiber loss when loads are not over-dried.
Laundry managers seeking the next level of streamlined operations are opting for laundry management systems that deliver not only advanced functionality, but access to performance data. These systems network washers and dryers and monitor the operation. Managers no longer have to be on site to get a view of how things are running or if processes are being followed.
Such systems act as an additional check to ensure the efficiency managers expect of their new equipment is truly being realized. “Quite simply, you can’t improve what you can’t measure,” Brooks said. Access to the level of data offered through systems such as TotalVue give management all the information to better manage their overall operation.” These systems also can be used to compare multiple laundries. For instance, a hotel group with multiple properties could have all data loaded into one dashboard and compare them.
Leverage the data
It’s one thing to leverage technology and pull data; however, it’s another thing entirely to leverage the data. At a minimum, managers should review efficiency data and machine error code reports on a daily basis. This helps them get an idea on how smoothly things are running as well as get a jump on any possible maintenance issues.
“Today’s technology puts an enormous amount of operations data, some of it in real time, at laundry managers’ fingertips. Never before have they been equipped with all the details to improve efficiency and ensure processes are being followed,” Brooks said.
The important thing to communicate to staff with regard to such systems is they are not “got you” tools for management to use to keep watch over staff and catch them doing something wrong. Rather they are instruments to help continuously improve processes overall to deliver better production and finished quality.
Today’s modern equipment and management systems finally give facilities all the tools to deliver consistent high quality results. They also help identify process breakdowns that could impact those results.
When used properly, they can give the laundry a place at the table in terms of management. General managers can see where costs reside, which can help justify future changes. Laundry managers have used data reports to sell the idea of adding staff and equipment to better manage the workload. Labor and utilities are the biggest costs to running an on-premises laundry. Laundry management systems now deliver all the data to ensure the highest level of efficiency. When that savings potential is considered, the ROI on new equipment can be much faster than managers expect.