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Renovating a 4th Generation Family Business - New System Laundry

PORTLAND, OR -- Deteriorating plant conditions, outdated equipment and severe space limitations were just some of the reasons that New System Laundry, a family run business since 1917, chose to undergo major renovations at their Portland plant.

Once the renovations were complete, New System Laundry gained 10,000 square feet of space, a truckload of new equipment, and a volume increase of 15 - 20 percent while enjoying a reduced workday (from 20-hour days, five days a week to 9-10 hour days five days a week,) enhanced work conditions for employees and a monetary savings for the business.

"We had conventional washers with no material handling to speak of," said Mark Rawlinson, the plant's general manager referring to the plant's previous lack of a shuttle or sling system. "There was a lot of labor involved and poor ergonomics."

Mark, 4th generation Rawlinson, and his father Dave, co-own the facility that employs 70 and handles 175,000 pounds of hospitality, industrial and medical laundry a week. Items processed range from light soil goods, tablecloths, napkins, towels and healthcare linen, to more heavily soiled items such as heavy-soil bar towels, industrial uniforms, mats and mops.

Making Room
The renovations began with the purchase of an adjacent building. "We knocked through the wall and built a new washroom in there and then we remodeled the older portion of the plant that includes the flatwork department and linen distribution," said Mark. This increase brought the laundry to 33,000 square feet - space that was filled with new equipment.

Prior to the renovations, the laundry operated with just three conventional washers. Now, six Milnor washers; three 450-pound open-pocket washer extractors and three 600-pound washer-extractors handle the increased load. Two 60-pound Pony washers were also installed to handle odd lots. Automating the plant, the new washers are loaded by a Bobco overhead monorail system and uploaded into a Milnor automated shuttle prior to being sent to two 550-pound Milnor pass-through dryers. The plant now also uses the Mildata computer management system to generate detailed reports on a variety of washroom functions. The flatwork department was updated with a new Kannegiesser feeder, ironer and folder.

Renovations didn't stop there. A cost-cutting water re-use system was installed. "We put in an entirely new water system from Thermal Engineering of Arizona (TEA)," said Mark. That new system includes a heat exchanger with shaker screen, a 3000-gallon hot water tank, a 2500-gallon tempered water tank, pumping package and stainless steel process piping. According to Bill Wardle, plant manager, the TEA system allows the laundry to re-use 30-35 percent of the water coming through the system which translates into huge savings for the business. Overseeing the renovations on this project was local equipment dealer, Western States Design.
"It was really designed to take us to the next step - now we're ready to grow," said Mark.

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Textile Services Industry Gets National Spotlight

WILIMGTON, Mass. — Textile service executive Ronald Croatti recently appeared on the CBS-TV show “Undercover Boss.” Croatti is CEO of UniFirst Corp., in Wilmington, Mass. For most Americans watching “Undercover Boss” it was their first view inside a commercial laundry, which typically process between 10 million and 25 million pounds of uniforms, table linens, bed sheets, towels and more every year “The reusable textile services business is the original green industry,” said Ricci. “Commercial laundries reuse linen instead of filing landfills with disposable alternatives and continually discover new, innovative means to reduce energy consumption and recycle water. Our huge economies of scale allow laundries to use about two-thirds less water, energy and detergent than alternatives, such as washing at home, while hygienically cleaning textile products, improving disease control and reducing contamination.”