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Cost vs. Value For Laundry Equipment Acquisitions

As the state of the art in laundry systems and laundry systems design begins to change, the issue of cost vs. value becomes an important key when making procurement decisions. The following areas should be thoroughly examined before making a decision. Never before has this issue been so important.

Past Performance:
When purchasing laundry equipment or systems it is important that you examine how systems have previously operated. Don’t just listen to the sales pitch, go out and see for yourself, visit suppliers and see for yourself how systems are built and what service you can expect. Prior to looking at other systems make sure you have a clear definition of what you expect the system/equipment to accomplish. In other words if you expect the system to process textiles for a health care institution make sure you compare apples and apples. Don’t permit a company with little or no experience to install your equipment/system, if you do you are asking for trouble and it will probably cost you more initially and will certainly cost you more long term.

When you specify a system make sure you get your mind in the 21st century. Examine safety requirements, ergonomic benefits and what production benefits will be available so you can actually not only produce status quo but also save manpower and energy in the process. It is virtually amazing what new products are now available, while they may cost more; the life cycle cost benefits can far outweigh any cost comparison. On the average one full time employee (laundry worker) who receives health and retirement benefits can cost your facility as much as $50,000 annually. If you specify the system you want and the system should last for 15 years, that could equate to a cost benefit of $750,000 over the life of the equipment, this makes a $100,000 cost difference in the initial acquisition seem like peanuts. For additional protection seek the best warranty provisions and require some sort of bonding.

Other value considerations involve how fast you can get service and parts, how maintenance is performed and the indirect cost associated with this topic. Some pieces of laundry equipment have greater maintenance requirements than others; this can drive your operational cost up considerably.

It takes courage to purchase an item that will cost more but accomplish more. Set up your formula to determine the over-all cost benefit of purchasing an item of laundry equipment. No longer are washers just washers, no longer are folders just folders, and no doubt feeding, ironing and folding have drastically changed in the past few years. While automation has been around for many years, most automation has centered on wash systems and conveyance. Now automation has extended into the finishing areas where significant FTE can be saved.

While I have long been a supporter of turn key laundry projects (having one contractor furnish and install a laundry system) I now feel each major component of a laundry design must now incorporate the best value scenario in all process areas. Therefore one vendor may not be able to offer the best value on all equipment offered.

  • Receiving
  • Sorting (*)
  • Cart transport (*)
  • Work load conveyance (*)
  • Wash system (*)
  • Drying systems (*)
  • Lint collection
  • Feeding, Ironing, folding, stacking (*)
  • Small piece finishing
  • Storing
  • Weighing (*)
  • Support (energy monitor, air compression, water storage, water softening, waste water heat recovery, steam, oil and gas systems (*)

(*) Recent innovations in the industry to automate and make systems more efficient, productive and ergonomically acceptable.

Bear in mind that return on investment in laundry equipment replacement circles can vary depending on your geographic location.

The key component to the success of making the correct decision for your institution or facility rest with making sure that you get what you pay for. In order to make sure you not only make the right decision make sure you have mechanisms in place to test and evaluate the systems that you decide meets all of your requirements. If you feel that the system you have selected will save FTE incorporate this requirement within your purchase requirements, the same applies for production, quality, safety, energy etc.

It may be worth your time and effort to select a team of individuals you trust and who are knowledgeable. This team can assist you in the equipment replacement endeavor from start to finish. Keep in mind what one FTE and one BTU is worth and correlate this with the importance of service.

H. Ken Tyler retired from the Department of Veterans Affairs in October 2000 after serving over 35 years with the Federal Government. He also retired from the US Marine Corps after 27 years of service. In both capacities Tyler managed laundry, textile and uniform programs. During his tenure with the VA, Tyler managed the modernization of over 60 facilities costing over $200 million. During his tenure with the US Marine Corps, Tyler managed 7 laundry facilities and 37 fleet support activities. He developed the laundry system acquisition approach, which was utilized by both federal entities. Currently, Tyler is active with several professional organizations. He is a member of the Board of Directors for NAILM, and an active member of Textile Rental Services of America, American Reusable Textile Association, Retired Marine Corps Officer’s Assn. and the Leadership VA Alumni Society.

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

A Gruesome Laundry Surprise

PHOENIX, Ariz. — A body in a bin was discovered by employees at a Sodexo commercial laundry facility. The body arrived on a delivery truck from medical facilities in Tucson. Team members who were unloading the bins first noticed blood on the sheets then discovered the body in one of the bins. The man, a transient, had previously slept in the laundry-bag area near the Tucson medical facility. It is believed that the man either died from a medical condition or was suffocated by the plastic bags. The body showed no signs of trauma or foul play.