- Written by Jeff Brothers
Over the past decade, the trend in the hospitality industry has been toward providing customers with high-end towels and bedding.
This increased emphasis on linens has led to sustained pressure on hotel laundry facilities to improve throughput rates while preserving high quality fabrics.
Not only have many hotels experienced up to a 25 percent increase in laundry volume, but working with luxury linens also poses other challenges. Most high-end fabrics contain a higher percentage of cotton, which absorbs and retains more water. The result is more weight to the laundry, increased dry times, and extended labor and machine use. Hotels also have seen a spike in utility bills.
With the additional demands on hotel laundries, maintenance of laundry equipment to maximize performance and minimize down time is increasingly important to the hotel owner’s bottom line.
Facility operators who evaluate their equipment mix to ensure optimal performance and follow a simple laundry maintenance schedule can reduce washing and drying costs significantly. Here are some tips on how to make these needed improvements to your laundry room:
PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE SCHEDULE
Create and adhere to a preventative maintenance schedule. Some new machine controls have built-in maintenance messages, reminding laundry managers what they should attend to on a daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly basis. Even if the equipment lacks this technology, most manufacturers supply a paperbased preventive maintenance guide that is easy to follow and can make a critical difference in the equipment’s performance.
Pay attention to extraction rates. A machine spinning at 500 to 600 RPM is less efficient at extracting water during the spin cycle. A washer-extractor operating at 800 RPM reduces the amount of moisture by 47 percent, cuts drying time by more than 40 percent and reduces gas usage by at least 35 percent.
Clean washer inlet hoses. This should be done on a quarterly basis. If debris blocks the screen, fill times — and labor costs — will increase.
Remove drain valve obstructions. Items such as combs, pens, paper clips and string can get trapped in a washing-extractor’s drain, keeping it from completely closing. If you suspect a leak, listen for water entering the drain during a wash cycle. If you hear it, something is keeping the drain open. This maintenance issue can cause thousands of gallons of water to be wasted. Some modern washers have automatic leak detection that signals when there is a blockage. Advanced controls can be programmed to conduct leak tests and send a message to you remotely if a leak is detected. The actual test is very straightforward; the washer is filled to a preprogrammed level and tested every two minutes to see if it is losing volume. To repair a leak, inspect the drain after removing the drain hose and remove any obstruction or call a repair specialist.
MONITOR DRY TIMES
Review drying times. Drying time should be less than 35 minutes for a load of towels. Many dryers are set far longer than necessary — wasting time and energy, while degrading towel quality. Test your dryers starting with 30 minutes, and then increase drying time by two-minute increments until the load is dry. Document the drying time and make it standard operating procedure. Many modern dryers automatically shut off when the laundry is adequately dried. Laundry experts believe 90 percent of OPLs over dry at an average of eight minutes. Eliminating that time from 10 loads a day would save an hour of labor and more than $883 in natural gas expense annually. Linen damage also is significantly reduced.
CHECK DRYER VENTS
Check dryer vents. Dryer exhaust venting should be checked monthly to ensure that airflow is not restricted. The smallest obstacles can block airflow, leading to increased drying times, labor, energy consumption and linen replacement. Where the exhaust exits to the outside is a critical airflow point. Many hotels put mesh over the exhaust outlet to keep birds and rodents out. However, mesh catches debris and gathers lint, restricting airflow. The most effective exhaust is a candy cane elbow that maximizes airflow while minimizing potential obstructions.
The most important component for efficient drying is to make sure there is plenty of make-up air. Since dryers pull air out of the room, there must be fresh air to replace the exhaust. If fresh air is lacking, dryers will not heat properly, leading to longer drying times. For every 75- pound capacity dryer, there should be 200 square inches of open space for air to come through. A simple inspection to perform: Open the maintenance panel for the heater to see if the flame is blue with moderate bending. If the flame is yelloworange with significant bending toward the dryer cylinder, the heater is starving for oxygen. In that case, call in a repair specialist immediately.
When upgrading or adding to your equipment mix, look to add technologies that simplify and help manage preventative maintenance. New controls identify with a date and time stamp when a machine error occurs, making it easier and faster to track equipment performance and address issues. Your distributor partner is another valuable resource for maintenance. Most distributors offer preventative maintence programs that can catch problems before they occur and take corrective measures immediately.
By adhering to a regular laundry maintenance schedule, facility operators can reduce washing and drying costs significantly, saving thousands of dollars annually in water, energy, labor and linen replacement. They also will see reduced machine downtime and increased throughput, making it easier for the business to deliver the quality that their customers expect.
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LAUNDRY FIRE – Guests Evacuated
CHEEKTOWAGA, NY — A fire in a Days Inn laundry room forced guests to evacuate the building during the evening hours. The fire which began in a dryer was contained to the laundry room and there were no injuries.