Company visits to textile cleaners and Industrial laundries

April 14th, 2015 - April 15th, 2015    Atlanta, USA 

For textile cleaning EZ one price cleaner, Presstine cleaners and Cleaners laundry was visited. The industrial laundries of Clarus linen systems, Ivy linen service and Angelica was visited as well. The information of the companies, the different business models and operational practices are used for inspiration and exchange of knowledge.

EZ one price cleaner
The business model of EZ one price cleaning is based on volume. The pricing is therefore low, $ 1.99 for any garment and $ 1.69 for shirts. The opening hours are Monday – Saturday from 7 am – 7 pm. The company just opened 5 month ago and operates two franchise locations. The company is modelled after the business model of CD Cleaners in Chicago. The company has 2000 customers now and processes 1200 garments a day. The goal is to grow to 2000 pieces a day. They focus on the regular items like the suits and shirts. The textiles are cleaned in two HCS machines. One for the light coloured load and one for the dark coloured load. The washable items are cleaned in a laundry machine and dryer.

Presstine Cleaners
This dry cleaning and laundry shop offer services to individual customers, hotels and big apartments. The opening hours are from Monday – Saturday from 7.30 am – 6 pm. A drive thru is available for more convenience. They offer pick-up and delivery services for hotels, big apartments and about 300 individual households. All kinds of garments are welcomed, from wedding gowns to household textiles. The garments are collected in bags and delivered at the sorting place. The shop is processing 3000 pieces a day. Therefore automated conveyer systems are available to process and store the garments. Two HCS machines of 27 kg (60 pounds) are used to clean the garments together with 4 laundry machines and 3 dryers. The company has an active promotion campaign. As an example: they started a radio commercial to collect used wedding gowns for poor high school kids to make their prom gala possible. The event was a big success and repeated now for 5 times. This positive publicity stimulates the customer to bring their garments.

Pinckard & Morgan Cleaners
This company operates with two drop-off stores and pick-up and delivery. Also a drive thru is available. The shop is open from Monday – Friday from 7 am – 6 pm and on Saturday from 8.30 am – 12.30 pm. Storage facility is offered for season clothing for $ 75. The storage room is conditioned at a low temperature to prevent bugs and climate changes influencing the quality of the clothes. The company has a large area for dry cleaning and laundry processes. They use a bar code system to process the items. When the garments are collected a HD picture is made of the delivered items. This makes sure that customer complains about the delivered garments can be solved. The garments are cleaned in 2 HCS machines, one transfer machine and one closed machine. About 5 laundry machines are used for washable items and a small ironer for flatware to finish this. The company is equipped with a conveyer system to transport the items through the different stages of the process.

Clarus linen system
The Clarus linen system group consists of 9 facilities. This industrial laundry, located near Atlanta, serves 12 hospitals and 50 health care clinics. The laundry processes 200 kg tons a week with 2 shifts of 8 hours. The laundry runs 7 days a week, 365 days a year. They process linen for the health care market and specialties like mops, rags, gowns and baby items. The most goods are rental items. Some customer own good are processed in wash extractors. The surgical items are processed by a specialized company. The laundry uses 200 exchange carts and offer also bulk delivery. The linen in the exchange cards are counted in the laundry and the clean linen is inspected, topped off and rotated.

The laundry process starts at the soil side. In this restricted area the employees wear protective clothing, gloves and glasses. The items are sorted and transported by a conveyer to one of the two batch washers. The bath washers are operated on 68°C (155°F) with hydrogen peroxide chemistry. The batch washers use 8.4 l/kg water. After washing the linen are dried and transported to large carts. These are transported to the ironers and folding equipment. The laundry is optimized on an efficient linen flow.

The employees are trained in-house by a certified trainer and by the association. The certified trainer is required by the government. The total number of employees are 180 inside and 100 outside the laundry. The longer you work for the company the better the work schedule. No accidents are reported the last year. They use a bingo game where the amount of money is increased every day no injuries occur. The quality is controlled by the laundry supervisors. Clarus is certified HLAC. Health care certification is not required jet but this will be changing as expected by the laundry.

Ivy linen service
This laundry is operational since end 2014. The laundry serves customer own goods in the hospitality market. The linen of 9 high class hotels are cleaned in this laundry. The hotels changed from on premises laundries to outsourcing. Professional industrial laundry processes can save up to 5 times the lifetime of the linen according to the laundry. The laundry produces 35-40 kg tons in 7 days a week with 1 shift. The goal is to upscale this to 120 kg tons.

The items are checked in by using a barcode system and weight measurement. The linen is sorted in the sorting station and placed in the bags. The bags are transported by a rail system to the batch washer. Two batch washers are available but only one is used right now. The current process used is at 60°C but this will change to a 40°C process with peroxide chemistry. The water consumption is 5 l/kg. After the press the laundry is transported by conveyer belts to the dryers. After the dryers the laundry is transported to the clean side of the laundry. This process is completely automated.

The total processing time in the laundry is 6 hours. The service and quality is important for hospitality sector. The employees receive a basic training with additional training on the job. More automation is expected on the clean side. Currently the linen is transported to the 4 ironers by carts. Automated transportation and feeding will be foreseen in the future.

In cooperation with ABS Laundry Business Solutions one of the many sights from Angelica was visited. The Angelica laundry company exists of 26 plants. The laundry group serves the health care market with rental textiles. The location near Atlanta is the 3rd plant in size of the Angelica company. The laundry produces 250 kg tons a week, 7 days a week. The laundry is HLAC certified and employs 182 direct employees that work at the laundry and about 50 drivers.

The laundry uses an UHF-RFID system in most of the textiles. The laundry processes 158 different article. Only 42 articles are chipped, but they represents a volume of 83%. The RFID chips can be found in bulk linen like pillow cases, bed sheets, etc. and in specialty items like microfibre mobs and scrubs. Currently 18.5 million chips are used. As a start all new items where chipped. In the beginning only the chipped items where processed in this laundry, the unchipped items transported to another laundry. The chipped and unchipped items are separated by a tube system where each textile item was transported trough. the tubes where fitted with an antenna so each individual item can be scanned and separated automatically. Currently the unchipped items are patched with an chip as well and all items are processed in this laundry.

In the process the items are scanned by a RFID reader above the belt. After the belt the items are sorted in the sorting station and placed into bags. The laundry bags are transported to three batch washers or three wash extractors for specialties. The batch washers operates at 60°C with peroxide bleaching process. The presses operate at 50 bar for flatware. After the process, the clean linen is transported by conveyors to the dryers. After the drying process the cleaning laundry is transported by carts to one of the eight ironers. The soil and the clean side are separated by a barrier wall. After the carts are filled they are checked out by a RFID portal. Also the carts are also chipped to locate them.

The use of RFID in the items resulted in an increased return rate. It provided the laundry with insight in the lost items. When an item is not returned after 30 day the customer receives a reminder, after 45 day another reminder and after 60 days the lost item will be billed. When the lost item is returned after billing the amount is credited. Damaged chips are removed on inspection. When new chips are used the read rate is 99.7% after 60 washes this is decreased to 97-95%. When the carts are checked out the weight measurement is combined with the readed amount of chips. When this does not correspond the cart is checked manually. The laundry is currently testing with readers on the ironers to be able to identify damaged items in the process automatically.