There are numerous steps in processing laundry, and your business can save money in each of those steps; from dirty linen collection right through to returning clean linen. Below are some tips on how you can reduce your costs.
Timing of collections
Laundries in hospitals and busy hotels may run 24/7, but most laundries are businesses with operating hours. If your laundry business collects laundry from other locations, it makes economic sense to coordinate collection times with laundry operating hours.
To make money in the laundry business, you are aiming for high volumes and a fast turnaround. If you collect laundry in the afternoon, you may not be able to process it until the next day. Return delivery may be later that day or even the next day. However, if you can organise collection early in the morning (ideally even before the laundry opens), you have many more hours in which to process it. That way you may even be able to return it either around the close of business, or first thing the next morning.
Sorting by linen type
Before washing laundry it must be sorted. This is a crucial process and must be handled with care. Laundry is sorted not only by colour and fabric type, but in the commercial industry also to avoid contamination and the risk of infection from soiled linen.
When washing similar linen types together, it enables you to not only control the amount and type of detergent used, but also the temperature and type of cycle of the washing machine which is optimum for that particular fabric type. Knowing the care criteria for various fabrics is important, not only for the correct temperatures, but also whether it’s intended for machine washing or hand washing. Setting the correct cycle on the machine minimises the need for re-wash, and also minimises wear and tear on fabrics.
Ensuring optimum wash levels
Overloading a machine reduces its cleaning efficiency, but under-loading means higher costs because you must spend more time and money washing more loads. The most effective way is to ensure your machines are filled at optimum wash levels.
Tailored wash programs
The types of laundry which are washed vary enormously, depending on what kind of laundry you are handling, and your wash programmes need to be tailored according to your laundry’s specific needs.
For example, the wash programme used for domestic clothing will be very different to that of soiled linen from a hospital. In order to render viruses and bacteria as dead or inert, they need to be exposed to a specific temperature for a set amount of time to achieve ‘thermal disinfection’. This is not necessary for domestic laundering.
Running machines at higher temperatures or running them for longer than necessary results in increased costs for your business. When machines are set to the specific temperatures and times their contents require, they launder the fabrics properly without running up extra costs.
Dryers which sense moisture
Using dryers which have moisture sensors can save you money for the same reason. Once the dryer senses the clothes are dry, the machine automatically switches off. By determining the exact completion time, the dryer is not running longer than necessary and you don’t have to be watching over it.
The additional benefits to your customers are this also reduces wear and tear on the fabrics because they are not over dried, and ironing is made easier because when fabrics are overheated wrinkles become more deeply set.
Machinery always operating
By sorting your fabrics, having machines filled to optimum levels and running on the correct wash cycles, you have reduced electricity costs and theoretically saved yourself time. But time is not truly saved unless you make use of that time. There is no benefit to having a machine finish in good time if you leave it standing idle for a further 20 minutes.
To reap the benefits of the time you have saved, you must make full use of that time. This means that when one load has been completed, laundry must be removed quickly and a new load started. Your machinery should be constantly operating during laundry hours, including lunch breaks. Only then will you have maximised your volumes.
Reduce ironing labour by warm folding
As soon as the drying cycles has finished, remove the items and fold them while they are still warm. This helps to avoid wrinkles and therefore makes ironing easier.
Efficient post dryer sorting process
Once your linen has been laundered, it’s time to fold it, sort it, and deliver it back. Various folding trolleys and tables are available, but you still need to have an efficient sorting system in place.
There are various methods for keeping track of laundry. One of the most common is to use a ticketing or counting system. Quantities are recorded before laundering and must be accurately checked after laundering. This ensures each customer receives the correct laundry back.
Correctly timed distribution process
Once your laundry has been washed and dried, it needs to be returned to the customer as soon as possible. This keeps your customers happy, but it also frees up space in your laundry. If you are running a small laundry, ideally distribution will take place when the laundry is closed so you can maximise the hours you spend ensuring the laundering process is running smoothly. If this is not possible, consider the costs of hiring a delivery service.
For larger laundries with a high turnover, it is probably worth investing in a delivery service. You may even opt for a number of deliveries each day.
Other Factors to Consider
Reduce machinery down time by replacing old with new, reliable machinery with warranty
Your business is only making money while your machines are running, but machines cannot always be running. Even new machines need maintenance and cleaning from time to time.
Of course older machines need more maintenance and cost you more money in parts, labour, and the down time. Older machines are also not as efficient as newer technologies. Their temperatures and cycles may no longer be operating effectively, and they are unlikely to be as energy efficient as newer machines. Purchasing new machines is not cheap, but it can certainly be more cost effective in the long run. It is something definitely worth considering.
After sales service
If you do decide to purchase new machines, make sure you also get fast and reliable after sales service. There is nothing worse than purchasing an essential item for your business and not being able to call someone about it when you need some help. Whether you need advice about operating your new machine, or if there’s something you don’t understand, it’s very reassuring to know you can phone someone who can help you.
When it comes to maintenance or any problems which may arise, it is also important for you to be able to get a properly trained technician who is familiar with your machine to come and take care of it quickly and efficiently. This will reduce machinery down time and save you money.