Maintaining quality, while increasing production on shrinking budget is the challenge of all assisted living and healthcare facility managers. Highly programmable, properly-sized equipment is the key to addressing all three challenges when equipping a laundry in a nursing home, clinic or hospital.
A quality washer should have the programmability of at least 4 wash rotation speeds and give you six water level choices. You should be able to choose up to six extraction speeds with high speeds reaching a minimum of 350 G-Force. You should be able to program a wash cycle with only one fill or up to 21 fills at the levels and temperatures required. You should be able to program water temperatures of each bath from 32°F-194°F and be able to set up a progressive cool between a hot water wash and a cold water rinse to prevent fabric shock/wrinkles. You should have the option of twelve independent chemical injection signals and allow for signal duration programming. The washer should be equipped with and internal suspension system capable of absorbing 95% of the transmitted dynamic energy (vibrations), eliminating the needs to bolt it to the floor. This suspension system is what allows the washer to achieve its high G-Force, removing more water from the washer and drastically reducing dry times.
A quality dryer should have easy to operate controls. You should have the ability preset timed dry cycles or the option to set the remaining moisture content of automatic cycles and the option to customize individual cycles. You should have the choice between single action and reverse action tumbling. The option should be available to set the temperature that you wish to dry at, as well as how many times you want the dryer to fire during a cycle.
Laundry Equipment Sizing
Properly sized equipment is vital to meeting production expectations. To determine the correct equipment sizing and mix, we need to know more than just how many pounds of laundry need to be processed and how much time is available to process it, we need to factor in the volume of what is being produced. Although you can load 90 lbs. of 100% cotton sheets into a 90 lb. washer, 65/35 blended sheets take up more space (greater volume) than 100% cotton allowing you to load only 54 lbs. The volume of the items being washed is just one aspect to consider when determining the proper size of equipment for your laundry facility. When managing a laundry facility, it is important to keep track of what and how much you are producing. An important laundry room accessory to have is a scale to weigh each load before you wash it.
Ozone in the Laundry Room
Ozone (O3) is an activated form of Oxygen (O2) that will naturally convert a foul-smelling substance into a non-odorous substance. Ozone works be casting off its 3rd atom into any other organic element thereby oxidizing it or converting it to another substance. Ozone will deactivate and destroy molds, bacteria, viruses, fungus and mildew.
Disinfecting and Deodorizing Prior to Washing:
Conditioning textiles in a properly constructed ozone room prior to cleaning can effectively treat mold, mildew and odors, typically eliminating re-cleans. Conditioning times vary depending on the degree of mold, mildew or odors, some taking as little as two hours to treat, while others may require up to 12 hours.
An effective ozone room is constructed to be as air tight as possible, with an exhaust fan large enough to create negative pressure in the room which prevents the ozone from seeping into work areas. The ozone unit should be placed high in the room to allow the ozone to “fall” over the items being conditioned. The ozone unit and exhaust fan should have on/off switches on the outside of the room to prevent employees from breathing the ozone. The room size and door openings should be designed with consideration of the product to be treated in mind. Ozone generators are sized based on the size of the ozone room.
Washing with Ozone:
Ozone in the wash is designed to enhance commercial laundry operations by improving quality and reducing costs. Ozone helps reduce operating costs by reducing energy use, water use, chemical use and cycle times. Ozone improves quality by eliminating bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms as well as lifting fibers giving laundry a softer feel and longer shelf-life. Ozone is very aggressive and requires little time to achieve the desired results, dissipating quickly in water.
Four Design Approaches to Using Ozone in the Wash:
– Using the Diffusion system, ozone is injected directly into the washer drum throughout each step of the wash cycle. This system puts linens in direct contact with ozone and provides longer exposure. Diffusion is designed to constantly charge the wash water with low levels of ozone throughout the entire cycle.
Direct Water Injection
– Using the Direct Water Injection system, ozone is introduced into the wash cycle via venturi into the cold water supply. This is a single charge system and the wash water is not recharged once it enters the wash wheel. This system is designed to inject higher levels of ozone during the fill step of the cycle only in order to prevent the linens from overexposure to ozone.
– A charged systems is a variation of the direct water injection system. A charged system mixes ozone with cold water and continually recycles it prior to injection into the washer to reach even higher levels of ozone at the fill step of the wash cycle. As withe the direct water injection system, the water is not recharged once it enters the wash wheel.
– This system is the most complex and expensive of the four systems. Using the recirculation Injection systems, water is recirculated between the washer and the ozone generator providing the wash cycle with constantly charged water. This system can handle heavy microbe loads, but with the PPM controller, recirculation pumps and lint filters, it requires continual monitoring and maintenance.