Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Boiler Skids

While boiler skids are common for industrial projects, they are uncommon for dry cleaning and laundry facilities because most equipment sellers either don’t have the knowledge of skidding or don’t have the equipment or facility to fabricate.

Tri-State’s first boiler skid project was for Mega Yacht Cleaners in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  The customer approached us having just recently built a new facility, wanting a Parker Boiler, and understanding the value of getting the boiler into his facility ready to connect to utilities.  He also understood the importance of having a properly piped, up-to-code, complete package designed specifically for his business.

When the unit arrived, the customer called me to say he “couldn’t believe what he was seeing being unloaded at his location.”  He thanked me profusely and went on to say that “it was beautiful.”  I had a fellow distributor drop by his location shortly after the installation, and he said the first thing the owner did, acting like a proud father, was take him to the boiler room and show him the skidded Parker Boiler System.

When most dry cleaners consider pricing for the boiler and other needed components, they typically don’t have any idea how much time and expense goes into rigging and piping the equipment.  Plus, there is the risk that it could be done incorrectly or worse, on the cheap.  Tri-State charges around $7,000 for skidding up a 15-25 H.P. boiler, return, blow down, chemical feed, and softener system.  This is an incredibly fair price given the extensive knowledge of skid design and equipment placement, welding, steel cutting, tools, and time required to do the job.

Once the customer receives the skid, all that is required is the gas vent stack out, steam supply header connection to the boiler, return header connection to the return system, blow down vented through the roof, drain to their floor drain, electrical hit to the boiler (the return system is already wired into the boiler by Tri-State), and a city water hit to the return system. Then they are ready to go; this is a big-time saver for an install job.

If you are interested in learning more about boiler skid options for your dry cleaning or laundry operation, please give us a call at 1-866-885-5218.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Washing Machine Preventative Maintenance

The majority of our OPL washer and dryer service comes about because facility owners and managers fail to perform routine preventative maintenance measures on their equipment.  Setting up and maintaining a proper preventative maintenance program may seem like a headache, but a bigger headache will come about when you have to deal with downtime and pay for emergency repair service.  Avoid the headache by picking a date, and sticking with that date each month, and following this outline:
  • Check washing machine belts for wear and proper tension.
  • Check to make certain the drain valve is closing properly with no water running out while the basket is full of water. If it is, it will extend the cycle time to make the level control and cause excessive water use.  To correct the issue, take the drain apart to make sure nothing is inside keeping it from closing.  Also, make sure the drain motor is functioning properly and the linkage is lubed.  If all else fails, replace the valve.
  • Clean the inverter fan filter if it is clogged with lint.  If it is, it could cause the inverter to overheat.
  • Check all water valves, as well as the soap hopper, for proper function.  If they aren’t working properly, most valves can be disassembled and sand or debris cleaned out or rebuild kits obtained for repair.
  • Check the shocks if the machines are soft mounted; some shocks will require a proper oil level.  For those that don’t require a specific oil level, make sure the drum assembly form doesn’t show excessive vibration which leads to excessive wear.  Worn shocks and springs will cause the washer to continually redistribute the load during extraction and will fail and stop or at least extend the program time.
  • Check hard mount washers for mounting bolt tightness during extraction, observe the frame at the floor for any movement.  Once the bolts loosen the washer will shake badly, damaging the floor and washer basket bearings from excessive vibration.
  • Check the bearings for lubrication; some require grease and some have an oil bath bearing housing. Check for bearing wear by opening the door and lifting on the basket. There should be little to no minimal play. If the washer is shaking badly and you have play in the basket, then replace the bearings and seals as soon as possible.  Letting this continue will badly damage the washer and cause the repairs to be much higher.
  • Check all hoses for leaks. I can’t tell you how many times a motor and inverter has needed replacing due to a leaking hose dripping down on the motor or electrical components, causing costly repairs.
Simply taking a little time to check the above items on your washers could save you lots of time and money in the long run.  But of course, if you have questions about your washers or need repair service, Tri-State is always here to help. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Using Chilled Water Spot Cooling

Dry-cleaning and laundry facilities can be hot in the winter months which means they are downright unbearable this time of the year.  Understandably, there are lots of folks that simply cannot endure that kind of heat, and that translates to lower production rates and possibly loss of good employees in a tough labor market.

Last year, we offered several solutions to help keep your dry cleaning plant cool, and today we want to focus closely on the one that we believe is the only serious cooling alternative – chilled water spot cooling.  This system uses a process water chiller, like those used for cooling water for dry-cleaning machines, along with a heat exchanger or coil and fan to blow cold air like air-conditioning.  Duct work is run overhead to each work station with trunks rated to handle the cubic feet per minute (CFM) of the air handler and then drops pointed down at each work station.

Here are some important tips when it comes to installing this type of cooling system:
  • Before installing, study the space using known figures like 2 drops per ton of water chiller, a chiller sized for the drop station amount, an air handler sized for the chiller tonnage, and a header trunk sized for the CFM of the air handler before beginning installation.
  • As you are doing planning, focus on routing and how to hang the main header trunk as well as where to install the air handler, supply and return chilled water piping. 
  • Tri-State recommends an 8” drop, which handles around 300 CFM, terminated approximately 7’ above the floor at each station, using an elbow on the end of each drop to fine tune the direction of air flow.
  • Remember, this is a process water chiller with a high amperage compressor and pumps.  Using this system will increase your utility cost. 
  • While it is rather costly to install and run compared to other options, it is much more effective and less expensive to operate than trying to add air conditioning to the entire facility.  Sometimes it is cheaper to cool people than to try cool an entire space.
If your dry-cleaning facility has hit that unbearable point, feel free to give Tri-State a call at 1-866-885-5218 or send us a message.  We are happy to answer questions and offer assistance.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Tri-State Laundry Equipment Provides Rigging

A few years ago Moneysworth Linen Service, a large commercial linen and beach rental company that services North Carolina and Virginia, called us for steam pipe installation for a couple Parker Boilers and stack declaimers they’d purchased.  As the relationship developed, we learned that they were in the middle of a $5 million expansion, which basically doubled their capacity, and we were fortunate enough to get to be a part of that expansion project.  The job, which consisted of rigging all new and existing equipment into place, included installing a new 12-module Kannegiesser tunnel washer with an extraction press; 6 new dryers with shuttle system for auto loading of the dryers; and 3 new iron lines complete with feeder, ironer, and folder-stackers.  One of the ironers was a specialty ironer for high quality flatwork linen of which is only one of two in North America.


 


This unique experience taught us something – that we are really good at rigging and installing large quantities of new dry cleaning equipment.  This experience also equipped us with all the necessary tools – from lifting straps to toe jacks – to take on more of these projects, regardless of size and weight.  And since this job, that’s exactly what we’ve been doing.

Our most recent rigging project, which was for Pratt Abbott Uniform & Linen Rental in Westbrook, Maine, consisted of job site rigging equipment from containers, uncrating, assembling, rigging into precise locations; leveling and bolting for the Kannegiesser Technicians; pulling miles of wire and installing controls to make the tunnel-dryer-shuttle come to life; and making huge differences in the customer’s linen production capabilities and cost of operation.


 


 
If your business has a big job in the works, and you know you’re going to need help, give Tri-State a call at 866-885-5218; we are happy to help.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Meet Matt Harris

I remember when Kevin hired Matt (pictured in the middle), who was just 19 at the time, back in 1999, to be in charge of Preventative Maintenance.  The office staff, myself included, quickly took a liking to him, and we all not only went out of our way to mother him, but we also peppered him with our sage wisdom.  Over the years, we watched Matt grow into a responsible man, a talented mechanic, a devoted husband, and a doting dad.  Those last two are especially important given that he married the boss’s daughter!

Matt spent about two years doing Preventative Maintenance before Kevin transitioned him to repairs and then ultimately installation.  While Matt has attended a few training sessions, most of his training has been on-the-job with some of the best in the industry.  Today, Matt likes nothing better than to walk into a job, having no clue what to do, face the challenge head on, and then ultimately figure it out.  And the bigger the job, the better.  Here are a few recent examples of big jobs with challenges that he, of course, solved:
  • In 2015, a dry cleaner in Raleigh experienced a devastating fire, so Tri-State installed an entire plant’s worth of new dry cleaning equipment in a temporary location.  Just a short time later their new facility was completed, so Tri-State then moved and reinstalled the equipment at the new store.  He spent about a year practically living in Raleigh.
  • Then there was the time a broken-down boiler installed in a boiler room was too large to take out through the doorway, so Tri-State had to bring in a crane to remove the old one through the exhaust hole in the roof as well as bring in the new boiler the same way.
  • “And it’s always fun,” explained Matt, “When the dry cleaning machine won’t fit through the door.”  But these are the problems Matt enjoys solving.  “No two jobs are ever the same,” he went on, “and each one always teaches me something.”
  • Lately, Tri-State has been doing equipment work in Maine with a few linen and uniform companies in dealing with massive washing machines that are 80 feet long.  Matt said it is hard and heavy work, and I hope to share more about that in our next post. 
Of course, even when you love what you do, there are tasks that aren’t so much fun, and for Matt it’s installing conveyors.  Why?  “It is labor intense, there are lots of parts, and everything is overhead,” he shared.  “My arms get really tired.”

With 18 years in this industry, I wondered what sorts of changes he’s experienced.  “Laundry equipment is definitely more computerized than it used to be,” Matt explained.  “A few years ago, washing machines lasted longer and could be repaired with a $30 part.  Today when there’s a problem, it’s usually computer-related and costs significantly more to repair.”

Lastly, I asked him if he had any parting words of wisdom to share.  “I guess to remind folks to always take care of their equipment and to follow the manufacturer’s suggestions on proper care and maintenance,” said Matt.  “Typically equipment that’s really well taken care of doesn’t require nearly as much attention as equipment that’s neglected.”

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Condensate Return

Over the last couple months, we’ve been focusing on boilers; specifically, we’ve talked about boilers based on fuel options, and we’ve also discussed determining capacity needed.  Today I want to talk about improving your boiler’s efficiency, and one way to do that is to monitor the condensate returned to the boiler with a goal of maintaining a return temperature of around 180 degrees.

Let’s dive into specifics.  One type of energy steam contains is latent energy or latent heat.  According to mobile-dictionary.reverso.net, latent heat is the heat evolved or absorbed by unit mass or unit amount of substance when it changes phase without change of temperature.  In a dry cleaning plant, when steam is supplied to a process, the steam releases latent energy to supply the piece of equipment with the steam it needs to function and then condenses to a liquid condensate.  That condensate still has energy, and if pumped back into the boiler, makes the boiler run more efficiently.  How?  First, less new make-up water is required, which helps keep water costs down.  Second, that water is already hot, so less energy is required to heat the water.  Third, most of the corrosive dissolved Oxygen has been removed from the water, reducing system corrosion.

Do these three things to make sure your plant is set up properly:
  • Always T upwards off of the supply and return header to the equipment connections
  • Always put a check valve after every steam trap
  • Confirm that all steam traps are in good working condition
This last point is exceptionally important as equipment will not work properly without steam supply and as a result, it’s constantly blowing steam by heating the condensate return system above the 180 degree target temperature.  Then the pump can’t pump water into the boiler at over around 200 degrees so it takes longer to fill the boiler which equals more cost to run the pump longer. Also, remember that increased return water temperature equals malfunctioning steam traps that allow steam to blow through the trap and heat the return water.  This can result in more than 14% flash steam loss.  It’s basically like you’re putting a brick on the steam pedal of a puff iron, and its blowing steam all the time the boiler is up to pressure.  Double utility cost hit when the steam is blowing by heating the return water which causes the pump to run longer using more electricity and the boiler to cycle more often because the pressure is being lost through the malfunctioning steam trap. All this can be detected by checking the return tank water temperature, if you are regularly running over 185 degrees.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

What Size Boiler Do I Need?

Last month we discussed the different fuel source options for commercial boilers, showing the cost savings and other benefits of choosing natural gas or propane over other options.  Obviously based on last month’s post, Tri-State Laundry Equipment prefers natural gas boilers, and we want to continue the boiler conversation focusing on what size natural gas boiler best fits your business.  To determine this, we’re going to talk in terms of BHP (boiler horsepower), which is a boiler’s capacity to produce steam.  One BHP is the amount of energy required to produce 34.5 pounds of steam per hour at pressure and temperature of 0 psig and 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

When I try to determine boiler need, I use two sources: first, a spec sheet from Unipress that provides finishing equipment technical specifications (all pieces of dry cleaning and laundry equipment have a BHP number), and second, years of experience.  For instance, I know that a dry cleaning utility press is rated at 1 BHP as is a dry cleaning legger or any other dry cleaning press that uses steam to heat and steam emitted for finishing.  Pants toppers with a form and emit steam to condition are rated at ¾ BHP, where form finishers which are any bag form that finishes dresses and tops and blows air and steam are rated at 2 BHP.  I tend to rate puff irons at ¼ BHP regardless of whether they are single or triples because they don’t emit steam all the time, and they consume a very small amount when at rest.

We all have our own unique set of talents, and mine is knowing all these numbers off the top of my head.  But for the remainder of the population, pressing equipment manufacturers provide a BHP number for all their laundry, shirt laundry, and dry cleaning pressing equipment as well as for dry cleaning machines and washers and dryers.  Sometimes a little digging might be required, but this is an important number to know when outfitting a new plant or when purchasing a single piece of equipment simply for an upgrade.  Once you have all your BHP numbers, figure in about 5% for header heat loss but be careful not to oversize unless the customer demands it.  And when it’s time to replace your boiler, don’t simply replace it with your current size.  Instead, run through this exercise to see if a larger size is necessary.

Determining your required boiler size can feel a bit complicated and overwhelming, but an experienced boiler system sales and design person can come up with a really close calculation.  And of course, Tri-State Laundry Equipment is always here to help whether is it’s dry cleaning or laundry boilers or dry cleaning or laundry equipment.