Commercial laundry manufacturers innovate amid declining hotel revenue

With the use of laundry and dry-cleaning services at hotels in decline, manufacturers in the industry are focusing their efforts on reducing energy consumption, saving on utility costs and increasing advancements in smart technology.

Guest laundry revenue (dry cleaning and valet) dropped 7.2% from 2007-2015, according to CBRE Hotels’ Americas Research. “I attribute this to the overall effort to control business travel costs, and casual business attire,” said Robert Mandelbaum, director of research information services at CBRE, in an interview with Hotel Business.

The Xeros washing machine cleans laundry using nylon polymer beads.

To help with offsetting losses, laundry equipment manufacturers have been engineering products designed to “reduce energy consumption and save on utility costs,” said Steve Hietpas, international sales manager at Whirlpool Corp. Commercial Laundry.

“Hotels should use manufacturers and distributors as trusted resources,” he said. “They’re there to help with choosing equipment, room design, product installation and everything in between, which ultimately impacts laundry operation costs.”

Sustainability and smart technology continues to play a role in commercial laundry—driving innovation and efficiency in the market. “For example, incorporating multi-load, high-speed washers with residual moisture control uses technology to extract water in the washer instead of the dryer, allowing linens to dry more quickly and gently, while decreasing the amount of energy used,” Hietpas said.

“Technology, in general, is very important to the laundry operation and is essential for maintaining consistency, reducing error and maximizing efficiency,” he added.

Smart technology in the commercial market is progressing, assisting hotels with tackling issues both inside and outside the laundry room. “With droughts increasing, it is inevitable that the cost of water will increase,” said Scott Wicker, VP of global brand management at Xeros. “As it increases, hotels will look for solutions to reduce that expense or to operate within tight government usage restrictions.”

Jim Corrigan, VP of West Coast sales at G.A. Braun, shared similar insights on the needs of hotel laundries. “We believe the hotel laundries need more energy-efficient products, more automation and simple-to-use equipment,” he said.

This also ties directly into how properties are training employees on laundry products. “Many experience high employee turnover, so cross-training of employees is very important,” he noted. “Hotel laundries should select an equipment manufacturer that provides training, employs a staff of factory-trained, field-service technicians and has standardized parts available domestically at all times.”

Technology can also play a role in improving equipment operation if the proper functionality is available to laundry-room operators (e.g., advanced monitoring capabilities, machine performance and maintenance data, and performance reports.) “There are many empty promises on efficiencies,” said UniMac North American Sales Manager Bill Brooks. “Promises surrounding significant decreases in utilities need to include the whole true-to-life picture of data, including any added labor costs or decreases in production.”

Braun’s Precision Series Small Piece Folder offers operators a triple-sort model process. In-feed wheels are user-selectable between two and four wheels based on operator preference

He added: “Only a system that monitors and reports true usages, production outputs and all costs will ensure that your property is running at optimal efficiency.”

Reducing staff efficiencies while also helping to reduce overall laundry spending can be done by implementing “easy-to-follow instructions with simple, one-touch, pre-programmed cycle selections for a variety of load types,” Hietpas said.

“For hotel owners and operators, staff efficiency will continue to be a trend in 2017,” he said. “To drive this, it’s important to properly train staff and ensure all employees have the knowledge to use laundry equipment appropriately. To minimize potential error and maintain consistent performance, take the guesswork out for employees.”

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