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GOING GREEN On Lake Superior

PINE CITY, Minn. — When Lake Superior Laundry was faced with expanding their healthcare plant in Superior, Wis. or investing in a new building, they decided to grow the business in a new location. Their second facility has not only grown their business, it has made them more attractive to customers in the environmental and infection control arenas. Now completed, the $4 million, 25-thousand-square-foot plant boasts water recycling and energy conservation savings in addition to back up emergency energy services. “We felt that a new plant would also give us redundancy and security from a fire or other natural disasters so that we can provide uninterrupted service to our customers,” says Max Blaufuss, CEO. “Since the plants are 85 miles apart it also opened up a new customer base for us.”

“We are a healthcare laundry and therefore we are very serious about quality and infection control,” says Blaufuss. “I feel that we should have the same infection control standards as a hospital and that’s how we built our plant – so that it was easy to meet the infection control issues.”

The Center of Disease Control (CDC) has defined the minimal level of clean for health care linen as hygienically clean. Sanitizing linen is the next
higher level of clean. When the linen is sanitized with Ecolabs’ Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered sanitizer it is protected against Staphylococus aureus, Klebsieffa pneumonia,

Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) at a kill rate of 99.9%. It also prevents the setting of medical CHG stains (hibiclens).

Producing sanitized linen is not just about how we clean our linen, but how we sanitize our equipment production belts, our delivery carts, our delivery vehicles and the whole plants cleaning process, says Blaufuss.

“I really believe that healthcare people are negligent if they don’t inspect the plant that produces their linen. The linen the laundry produces goes into every area of a hospital, therefore the laundry is a major player in the fight to control hospital acquired infections. Customers should look for how their laundry is produced and handled from an infection point of view.”

Another advantage of the EPA registered sanitizer is that a study has shown that after fifty (50) wash cycles the tensile strength retention is forty four percent (44%) better then when using bleach, resulting in longer linen life.

Lake Superior Laundries wastewater recycling system is from Kemco. The system consists of 2 main treatment units: a ceramic microfiltration system and a nano-filtration system.

These treatment units remove contaminants from the laundry wastewater, including removal of oils, grease, suspended solids and dissolved solids. The treatments make the water clean, contains no bacteria or other pathogens and is of a quality suitable for all washing operations such as rinsing, break or chemical suds cycle etc.

At the present time the laundry reuses approximately 85% of the water. The water is tested by a laboratory on a regular basis. In case of a break down the system can be bypassed so the plant can run on city water. The reuse system also lowers the cost of heating water and lowers chemical costs. “It’s a significant savings,” says Blaufuss. “Recycled water costs us $ .0015 per gallon and new water costs us $ .016 per gallon.” The water is heated in a Kemco direct contact water heater that allows for 99.7% efficiency outcome.

The dryers incorporate several energy efficiency improvements. A precision burner control monitors the temperature of the incoming air (which is preheated) to the amount of energy needed to keep the basket temperature constant. A linear heat source ensures that the heat will be evenly distributed within the full volume of the dryer basket, maximizing fuel conservation and productivity. And coaxial ductwork allows the laundry to preheat the inlet air with the exhaust air without transferring moisture back into the dryer.

The self-contained gas thermal ironers save a minimum of 30% on energy consumption over steam ironers and they have an insulation shield over the rolls to help keep the heat in the ironer chest area and for employee comfort.

The laundry plant is specifically designed to ensure complete separation of soiled and clean linen throughout the laundry process, thereby meeting the highest health care standards. Goods always flow in one direction through the plant using an extensive rail system to deliver the laundry to the different production stations. Approximately 54 team members run the laundry in Plant City and they process about 125,000 pounds weekly. Blaufuss expects to grow their poundage to 8 million yearly. Laundry hours run from Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.

All of the chemicals used in the wash process are part of Ecolab’s “green line”. The alkali used contains no phosphates and the EPA registered sanitizer is being used instead of bleach. The washroom boasts three 600- pound Braun Neutron-Medicare washer/extractor, a 400-pound Braun Neutron-Medicare washer/Extractor, a 200-pound Braun Neutron-Medicare washer/Extractor, a 140- pound Milnor washer/Extractor, a 110-pound Milnor washer/Extractor, and a 60-pound Milnor washer/ Extractor. Drying the goods are 5, 200-pound Braun Non-Pass-Thru, Natural Gas dryers with internal lint collectors and 5, 75-pound Huebsch gas fired dryers.

The finishing department operates with a two station Chicago King Edge, 1 Braun Blanket Folders with stacker, 1 Braun Omega Folder, a Braun Sigma Small-Piece Folder and a Chicago small piece folder. Two two-roll 32"118" Thermal Lapauw ironers are also used.

Looking towards the future Blaufuss says, “Being accredited by HCLA is a great first step in producing quality linen but the health care laundries have to raise the level of awareness regarding their infection control procedures.”

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Laundry Employee Gets Trapped

DALLAS, Texas — An employee of Crown Health Care Laundry Services, died at Vaughn Regional Medical Center after being trapped inside a dryer. The 28-year-old was trying to remove lint when the machine malfunctioned.