- Created on Friday, 02 September 2005 17:16
- Written by Jamie Kiffel
Empty classrooms, quiet dorms and fragrant flowers creeping over walkways may make Penn State University may look lazy during the summer months. But one part of campus is working harder than ever: the Penn State University Laundry Service. The laundry service serves the campus' own hotel, conference center and inn, which pack the campus with extra people--and extra laundry."We do laundry for the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel, which has 300 rooms, and the Nittany Lion Inn, which has 223 rooms,” says Gary Feltenberger, RLLD, assistant manager of the laundry. “Then the residence halls can have 6000 people for three days for a conference—and as soon as they leave, 6000 more come in." And the hotel is expanding. "I think right now, with 150 rooms coming, we'll do 3,636,000 pounds per year at full capacity."
The laundry cleans all hospitality items--sheets, pillowcases, terrycloth robes, table linen and table napkins--as well as some lab coats for the university. It also serves the eight dining commons with oven gloves, hot pads, silver pads, some uniforms and towels. For uniforms, the facility has a Colmac steam tunnel.
Ordinarily, 13 employees work six days a week, 7 a.m. to 3:30, with two employees coming in for pickups on Sunday. "Some Saturdays, we work 6 a.m. to 2:30," notes Feltenberger. When the facility is at full tilt, the laundry brings in part-time students.
And when the laundry hums, it really hums--with a computerized system that was installed in 1994. It boasts a six-module Milnor tunnel that holds 100 pounds in each module; two 90-pound Milnor washer/extractors; one 35-lb Milnor washer/extractor and three 100-lb Milnor dryers (that came with the tunnel). "After it comes out of the extractor," says Feltenberger, "laundry dumps onto a belt, and a shuttle takes it from one dryer to another. The computer automatically knows which dryer is open..
Before the installation, "We had 3 Ludell washers, two 450-pound and one 900-pound, installed in 1970," says Feltenberger. The laundry was able to reduce the machine capacity because "this is a lot faster," he explains. "Because the tunnel is as short as it is, the total time of transfer is about 5 minutes." Before, "some of those wash cycles before were 55-60 minutes and a lot of physical labor. We dumped them upside down into tubs with slings, put them up on a monorail…onto a another monorail, then to a holding monorail..." He chuckles. “Now, we only push carts under the dryers, and the laundry drops out. It's spring-loaded and ergonomically correct.”
The laundry also has two Chicago towel/folders; two lines of Chicago spreader/feeders; two Chicago 2-roll ironers and two Chicago folders. "We bought the first ironing line from Chicago three-and-a-half years ago, and a year ago, we got the second," Feltenberger says. "Depending on what I'm running, I can do 70-100 feet per minute. Before, everything was put in the ironer by hand and taken out by hand. It used to take five people to run an iron; now it takes three- and a third of the time." Everything rushes through the laundry in approximately 50 Tingue Brown carts, and is delivered in the facility's own two trucks.
Outside, the plant has a 1970 Luddell water reclamation system that's still running strong.
Looking toward the future, "We're in pretty good shape here right now," Feltenberger says. "It took two guys before to run the washroom, and now it takes one. Every time that washer index is full, 100 pounds come out. As long as we can keep stuff coming to it, it keeps throwing it out for us."
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