Friday, November 15, 2013

Commercial Washer Extract Speeds

Spin, extract speed, G-force -- what does all that mean to your business? Those words are crucial in having a more efficient commercial laundry production, reducing utility costs, and reducing your impact on the environment. Today I want to touch on the first two benefits.

I’ve been in the commercial laundry and dry cleaning business for almost 30 years now. I remember when utility expense hardly impacted the bottom line, perhaps because our volume was so high that we operated full force all day. But with the change in fabrics and dress style, volume isn’t what it used to be. And as a result, many of us may need to consider making changes to improve efficiencies. One way to do that is by updating our commercial washers.

Today’s commercial washers are in one word – impressive. They offer options that can fit any situation and budget. They have extract speeds, which is really the key to production and energy savings, anywhere from 90 to 450 G-force. Of course the higher the G-force, the higher their cost. But in evaluating washers, you must consider the long-term payback in both production time and utility savings. For example, a 100-G extract machine’s all cotton load will require around 39 minutes to dry in correctly matched dryer to washer while a 450-G extract soft mount washer, the load will dry in around 27 minutes. Those 12 minutes per load, over the course of a day, can make a huge difference in pounds per shift, per person and so on.

There is so much to discuss in relation to the latest in commercial washers and extract speeds. Look forward to future posts where we will examine more closely how these savings work and a bonus benefit – longer linen life due to reduced drying times.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

How Well Do You Treat Your Boiler?

I often interrogate dry cleaning and laundry operators about their boiler maintenance procedures, and I typically get interesting and troubling answers.  Here’s how it usually goes:
You have a blow down regimen – right?  Oh yeah, we blow it down at least once a week in the afternoon.
Do you treat your water?  Umm….no….it’s too expensive.
When’s the last time you cleaned your flues and burners?  I didn’t know you needed to do that.
So you get the idea.  Proper boiler maintenance is huge - it can save you LOTS of money and headaches.  How?  Water contains impurities that coat the water jacket or tubes in your boiler causing it to need more gas (higher utility bills) to boil the water in order to make steam.  Those impurities also coat the internal water and safety probes causing the pump to fail (think repair costs) and create problems like cutting off on low water safety because it can’t measure the water through continuity.  Properly maintaining your boiler, like blowing it down regularly, not only eliminates the problems I just mentioned but also the ones I haven’t even gotten to.
If you’ve been neglecting your boiler, here’s what I recommend:
1. Get a chemical company to analyze your water so you know what’s in it.  Using two companies is ideal so you can compare their findings and recommendations.
2. Based on the findings, you can then come up with an appropriate blow down regimen.  Follow it religiously.
3. Consult your owner’s manual for recommended flue and burner cleaning and follow it too!
So now your boiler is clean.  Your flues and burners are clean.  Your boiler is running efficiently, as it was designed to do, and the heat can penetrate the metal to get to the water without those impurities slowing the process, ultimately creating more steam at a LOWER utility cost.
Not only can you enjoy lower utility costs, you can also increase the life of your boiler.  We like Parker Boilers for their fast start ups, low cost of ownership, and ease of repair.  The average cost to install a boiler is anywhere from $2,800.00 to $4,000.00.  Add in freight in the rage of $700.00 to $3,000.00 depending on size. I haven’t even mentioned the cost of the equipment yet.  Taking all these things into account, doing things like treating your water doesn’t seem so expensive and properly blowing down doesn’t seem so taxing.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Top 3 Reasons to Purchase Used Unipress Equipment

Here’s a little known secret of dry cleaners across the United States -- If money is a bit tight but there is a need to upgrade equipment, then purchasing late model used Unipress Laundry or Dry Cleaning equipment is the ticket.  Here’s why:
  • Unipress produces high quality equipment with long lasting components
  • Unipress parts are readily available from both Unipress and industrial supply houses
  • With a little TLC and some fresh paint, they can be made to look like new
But be advised – used Unipress equipment may be hard to come by.  The used press market has been nearly tapped out with fewer cleaners going out of business and current cleaners postponing upgrading equipment because of economic uncertainty.  If there happens to be a Unipress piece on the market, it usually goes quickly.

There are two pieces that are nearly scarce because every dry cleaning plant needs them and few are turning them loose -- The Unipress 42X Dry Cleaning Utility and 46X Dry Cleaning Auto Legger.  Other items that are high in demand are WAZ Jean Press, DLZ Double Jean Press, as well as any used Unipress late model shirt unit like the NT, AP, or LS.  One additional note on the shirt units, even though Unipress added some features to the LS shirt unit, many operators like the quality the older NT provides and are unwilling to spend the money on the upgraded unit.

The bottom line is this – even though they may be hard to come by, all the models listed above are worth seeking out.  That’s why I’m sharing the secret with you.

Why should I go to The Clean Show?

It’s a question I get asked often, and then it is usually followed by a long list of reasons why they aren’t attending.  One of the more common reasons is ‘I don’t really need anything.’  I would disagree.

I will follow that up with these points.  First, while The Clean Show is full of the latest in technology, it is also attended by thousands of your peers.  Those folks come with a wealth of information and ideas to share.  Second, it gives you an opportunity to talk one-on-one with the companies that manufacture the equipment and products you use every day.  Finally, it gives you the chance to learn the latest methods and processes.

But let me tell you why I like attending The Clean Show; it allows me to spend hours talking and learning about something I simply love.  This year, I am particularly interested in seeing the Compass Control computer for the Electrolux and Wascomat Commercial Laundry Equipment line.  The computer is fully programmable and will be the same on both Electrolux washers and dryers.  I’m also really excited about seeing the newly introduced Unipress BAG Auto Bagger with a loader/unloader for a fully auto operation.

The Clean Show does showcase the latest and greatest in equipment.  Things I believe dry cleaners should look for this year – POS systems, bar coding, garment sorting and automation.  But it also gives you the opportunity to discuss your operations and our industry as a whole with other attendees to learn as much as you possibly can.  The Clean Show is really what you make of it.  But you won’t know if you don’t go.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Is Something Slowing You Down?

I’m sure you pay close attention to your production equipment – washing and dry cleaning machines, pressing equipment, etc.  But do you go as far as to check the fill times on those machines?  Why is fill time important?  Well it can hold up your production process and in turn cost you money.

Washing Machines – Fill times will vary based on incoming water pipe size and the size of the machine itself.  But if your machine seems to be filling slowly check for clogged hose screens and drain valves that aren’t properly sealed.  Both are simple to do but instructions do vary a bit depending on the brand of machine you have.  Be sure to consult the owner’s manual and follow all the safety procedures before starting.

Dry Cleaning Machines – Cycle times can vary depending on these simple factors.  First, make sure all pump strainers are clean.  Second, ensure that the level float switches are working properly to ensure proper fill levels.  Finally, make sure that the filter and spin disk is clean to allow solvent to flow freely without added back pressure from solid build up.

Refrigeration and Steam Coils – Cleaning these should be part of your annual maintenance plan.  If they are not cleaned, air flow will be restricted, dry time will increase, and the wheel will hold a solvent odor.  Coils are actually easily cleaned by simply removing quick fittings and then wiping down with coil cleaner from a refrigeration supply business.  Make sure before you remove these coils that you have new gaskets and proper waste containers to dispose of the lint, acid, and rinse water.

So bottom line – watch the time it takes for you to process a load.  It may tell you if something in your plant is slowing you down.