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Footprint For Growth Is Hallmark Of Sodexho’s Ohio Facility

CLEVELAND, Ohio—Sodexho USA’s new $10 million laundry in the Collinwood Yards neighborhood of Cleveland is the service provider’s biggest capital expenditure to date. Using their experience in building and running more than thirty large laundry facilities across the United States, they have created a 60,000 square foot plant situated on over 6 acres that easily handles the needs of today and provides for expected growth into the future. Collinwood Yards began operations with the Cleveland Clinic Main Campus in May of last year. Then they brought in Marymount Hospital, Lutheran Hospital and Fairview Hospital, in addition to five Cleveland Clinic facilities, spiraling the total linen handled to around 24 million pounds a year. The linen had been previously handled by Cleveland Clinic’s in-house laundry.

Jerry Spooner, Cleveland Clinic’s laundry manager, as well as three production supervisors and several employees, came to Collinwood Yards for the start up of the new facility, with Spooner serving as Plant Manager. Currently, Collinwood Yards has nine management positions and more than a hundred staff. More than eighty of the facility’s employees are new to the laundry-processing field. Most of them from the surrounding neighborhood, making Sodexho a major factor in the community’s economic well-being.

“We have a very strong training program here,” said Spooner. “The new employees coming in have never seen a big laundry, let alone a computerized one. There is the safety aspect, teaching them how to operate the various pieces of machinery efficiently and safely, and there are the many steps in the production cycle, beginning with differentiating between patient gowns and surgical gowns and all the other pieces of linen that we process. We are now at 112 pounds per operator hour and improving weekly with no high end set limit.”

The day starts at Collinwood Yards at 6:00 am, with the first shift running until 2:30pm. The second shift runs from 3:30pm until midnight. The hour in between shifts is used for preventive maintenance on the equipment and catch-up if needed. The plant operates six days a week. Trucks begin arriving at four bays in the soil sort side of the plant at 3:30 am and continue with customer pickups and deliveries until 4:00 pm. There are three bays on the delivery, or clean side, with a fourth bay, a drive-through, used for equipment and material delivery. Five 53’ trailer trucks and three 20’ box trucks are kept busy with runs to the plant’s customers.

Nine of Collinwood Yards’ employees work at a raised Dunnewalt computerized soil sort area. As they sort the nineteen classifications of linen items into slings according to LED readouts at each station, the computer records and monitors the slings by item and customer and sends each to one of fourteen pre-selected overhead rails that queue the slings for the washers. Computer screens throughout the plant let supervisors know where each batch of linen is, in real time, anywhere in the system. Each customer’s slings are color-coded in the computer for quick and easy identification. Most of the linen flows through two Lavatec 16-chamber tunnel washers at 90-seconds-per-110 lb. batch cycles, with stain-treated linen headed for rewash in two Lavatec 275 lb. washer-extractors and uniforms and “odds and ends” going to two 70 lb. Lavatec pony washers. There are more than 800 Chem-Tainer laundry carts in the plant’s system, at any point in the day either in the facility, on trucks, or at customer locations. Sodexho designed their own pass-through wash station for the carts traveling from the soil side to the clean side, through the barrier wall.

On the clean side, 110 lb. “cakes” exiting the tunnel washers’ presses travel, two-at-a-time, by automated conveyors to twelve Lavatec transfer batch tumbler dryers for conditioning. From here, the cleaned linen is automatically loaded into slings, raised up to a system of twelve overhead Dunnewalt rails and directed by the computer to the appropriate area for finishing. Four flat work ironers, two Chicago with Chicago folder-stackers, one Braun with a Lavatec folder-cross folder and one Lavatec with a Chicago four lane folder-stacker. There are five Chicago small piece folders for items such as patient gowns and towels and a Chicago blanket folder complete the processing cycle. Clean linen from the washer extractors and pony washers are taken by cart to the appropriate areas for finishing. Linen is dumped onto Speed Check lift tables to provide ergonomic assistance to the workers feeding the finishing equipment. Coats and uniforms for hospital personnel are taken to a Colmac steam tunnel for finishing. The Collinwood Yards plant has a current capacity of fifty million pounds, but has been designed to easily accept additional equipment.

Emeka Okeani is the Division President for all Sodexho USA laundry facilities. “In the design for equipment configuration as well as layout,” he said, “we have a very strong safety-conscious culture. We involved our Risk Management Group’s safety experts in the ergonomic design of this plant from the ground up. Then, when a facility is up and running, an auditor from Risk Management will visit randomly. The auditor, together with the laundry manager, reviews a checklist of policies and procedures.”

Planning for the Collinwood Yards plant also included major energy conservation systems. Flue exhaust from their three Cleaver Brooks 150 lb. boilers is used to pre-heat incoming city water. This water is then heated additionally by water exiting the tunnel washers via a tube-within-a-tube system to bring the clean city water up to about 100 degrees before entering the boilers for final heating, saving a great deal of energy. Larry Weiss, the plant’s Chief Engineer, tests samples of incoming water daily to make sure alkalinity is held to a minimum. “I look for anywhere from 400 to 600 parts per million of hydroxide,” he said, “to keep scale from coating the tubes and maintain boiler efficiency.” Ecolab provides all the chemicals for the boiler room, as well as for the laundering processes. The Lavatec transfer batch tumbler dryers have also been made energy efficient. Using a coaxial duct system, hot exhaust gases heat incoming outside air to reduce each dryer’s gas usage.

“What we had here,” said Robert Pfeifer, Collinwood Yards’ General Manager, “was the ability to design a plant from the ground up. It is the engineer’s and operating person’s dream. We could take our experience and factor in the expectations of our customers and design a plant that is not only functional today, but affords the opportunity for growth. Right now, we have a combination of pooled accounts and individual accounts, but our plans call for eventually having a central packing system.”

“This all started as a long term relationship with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation,” said Mr. Okeani. “With the hospitals of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation now represented under our roof, we can concentrate on reaching out to obtain new customers and continue to grow our base.”


Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

G&K Fined By U.S. Attorney’s Office

MINNETONKA, Minn. — G&K Services, Inc., was recently fined $450,000 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, G&K discharged too much oil and grease into wastewater at one of their facilities. G&K is headquartered in Minnesota and the facility that was fined is located in Iowa.