There are only two reasons why people opt for do-it-yourself: either because it's their hobby; or they want to save money. There cannot be too many hoteliers around who regard laundry as a hobby, so they must believe it is a cheaper option.
Certainly that's the argument used by many equipment suppliers, who produce impressive figures to prove their point. Warner Howard, for example, claims that up to 50% savings can often be made. And Miele puts forward an example of a large hotel spending £85,000 a year on a laundry contract, plus additional linen hire/rental costs, and claims that a well planned on-site laundry could reduce this to a one-off £25,000/£30,000 equipment cost, plus £4,500 a year machine running and labour costs.
Warner Howard lists some of the other advantages as: housekeepers not being tied to contractors' delivery times; linen never being switched or lost; and administration time being saved on checking linen in and out.
"However, to achieve these cost benefits an on-premises laundry (OPL) must be properly equipped in the first place," says John Cunningham, area manager Scotland for Miele Professional. "It must have the right capacity and type of machinery, the right size of room and location, and services such as drainage and ventilation have to be correct."
The best way to ensure such a scenario is to call in a recognised supplier or manufacturer, who will assess all the requirements. "They will include the machine load factors, which are worked out with regard to the number of beds, the hotel occupancy percentage, the type of linen used, whether duvets or sheets are used, number and quality of towels, restaurant linen, kitchen accessories, plus, of course, function suites and leisure pool considerations, and so on," says Cunningham.
Space, or rather lack of it, is sometimes an inhibiting factor, Warner Howard points out, but says it can offer expert advice at making the best use of small areas that would otherwise be dead space. As little as 10sq m is often sufficient in which to install an OPL. A start-up operation does not need to be a full laundry. A towel laundry can still show big savings for hotels.
Both Warner Howard and Miele offer training to hotel staff who will operate the laundry. Warner Howard has its own laundry training school and Miele holds annual seminars.
Knowing exactly what you are buying is also very important, Cunningham points out. "In the commercial sector the washers are known as washing machines or washer extractors, and there is a difference. The washer extractor is technically superior with a high ‘g factor' (300g plus), caused by the spin rate, which extracts a much higher percentage of water from the laundry than does a washing machine, which is generally lower technology with factors below 300g and with little actual control over the wash/rinse function. Top-loading machines and rigid drum front-loading machines are of this type.
"The true washer extractor has no requirement for a spin dryer and so, in addition to time and space saving, it reduces the drying workload substantially, and this can be the most expensive part of a laundry operation. It can also dramatically reduce the cost of detergents, water and overall energy used."
By selecting the correct washer extractor, the specified dryers can be smaller, he continues, and will run for fewer hours. And if the dryers are also hi-tech models with proper moisture control, they will automatically switch off at the user's predetermined dryness level.
Dryers must be exhaust-vented if they are to be efficient or they will run hot and create higher running costs.
Ironing will need to be done in about 70% of hotels, Cunningham says, so proper consideration must also be given to space for a rotary ironer. Choose the correct size from the outset, because you cannot add more at a later stage as you can with washers and dryers.
Electrolux Laundry Systems is one business offering equipment for OPLs, with a fully computerised site-survey service, a wide range of equipment, a finance package with lease and extended warranty options, full-service back-up and on-site staff training. Its machines include high-spin and standard-spin options, from 4.5 to 80kg capacities, and program controls with up to 99 different options.
Among recent installations is an ironer for the Holiday Inn, Cambridge, which has increased its linen load following a refurbishment. Electrolux has installed a IM4831 FFS (feed, fold, stack) flatwork ironer, replacing a six-year-old machine which needed two operators.
"Our old machine just couldn't cope with the increased demand placed on it," said accommodation manager Wendy Morris. At peak times she envisages the machine having to cope with 100 sheets an hour, which should be no problem, says Electrolux, as it is capable of handling 120 sheets an hour.
Anglowest can supply hotels with the Kit-45 Viking laundry system, which, it claims, enables one operator to process 45kg of laundry per hour, using two high-spin washer extractors, one 50lb tumble dryer and one PS rotary ironer with a 77in wide roller. The kit will fit a 32sq m space and it can be obtained for £125 a week.
The Kit-45 with one operator can process 20 of each of the following items in one hour: single sheets, pillow cases, bath towels, hand towels, bath mats, small towels, tablecloths, tablecloth covers and napkins. That is 875 pieces of mixed laundry in one day at an average cost of 8p an item including labour, running costs and finance.
One feature claimed to be unique in the PS range is the auto speed system which automatically adjusts the ironing speed, depending on the type of material, humidity and water retention.
Armstrong Laundry Systems has a Fabric Care Research Association report published in May this year to back its claim that its new 35lb gas-heated Loadstar eco-dryers use up to 27% less gas than their predecessor model. The full range of Loadstar dryers includes 25lb, 30lb, 35lb and twin-pocket 30lb Twinstar models.
A range of rotary ironers supplied by Sapphire Laundry Equipment come in several sizes ranging from one metre in length to a two-metre ironer. Roller diameters can be 20, 25 or 30cm.
The ironers have variable speed options, which allow thicker cloths or materials with high water content to travel more slowly through the machines. And vacuum suction aids the finish by drawing heat and moisture through the linen. An energy-save option is also available.
With safety a paramount feature, the finger safety guard protects users by stopping and reversing roller action. An emergency stop button is an added precaution. Sapphire also offers a free, no-obligation survey to customers considering installing an OPL. n