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Laundry Processing

THE QUEST FOR THE HOLY GRAIL

The three Kannegiesser tunnels at the Zischka Plant in Simmern loading from Supertrack monorail

Feeding the spreader-feeder transport system at Zischka

Zischka: Drying location above the pristine floor. White loaded bags containing clean linen en route to be dried

Zischka: Elevated view of the sheet loading stations showing high level transport and storage system

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lthough in 2009 laundries are seemingly highly developed from a technology stand point; the industrial laundry business worldwide has not yet achieved the ultimate goal of all laundry operators. This goal may be summarised thus: The processing of the daily and w eek ly loads of w ork at the least cost, in the fastest way, with the minimum of staff, and these goals achieved by using least energy in heating all phases of the process and using the least amount of water, with minimum subsequent waste sent to drain at local public water supply approved quality. Every phase of the laundry operation has been developed in a seemingly piecemeal manner according to the historic strengths of the machinery manufacturer and this fragmentation of effort, especially when allied to the generally conservative attitudes of the owners of individual plants, has produced a world wide industry operating at widely differing efficiencies. From the outset of centralised industrial textile processing, the businesses involved were heavily dependent on large numbers of manual operations at individual workstations, being accomplished to varying quality standards by many operatives. Quality, in many cases, was highly variable and volume outputs at each stage reflected

12 LCT July/August 2009

the general lack of innovative processing machinery available at that particular time in history. This review is not aiming to rehearse at length the development of mechanical aids to production efficiencies which have occurred over time. Suffice it to say that the industrial laundry of the future will – in the view of this and several other external observers – become increasingly the business landscape occupied by machinery manufacturers who, through their own strength in innovation, coupled to a strong financial state of health, can deliver the complete array of sophisticated, well-designed and mechanically efficient processing machinery to create a complete ‘in-line’ production system. A system progressing logically from receipt of soiled textiles through every stage of the processing cycle to the pack and despatch area of any plant. This then, when allied to optimisation of the running efficiency of each piece of plant, is the ‘Holy Grail’ of the laundry owner and it should also be the ambition and goal of every laundry manager at departmental level. Every step towards this ‘summit’ has to be taken one at a time and, with care and thought, because in a laundry, more than in any number of other production plants in a variety of widely differing processes, the textile medium which is the subject of all laundries is very flexible in

itself and this medium is itself, repeatedly subject to heat, liquid, mechanical, and chemical stresses. This repetition of the laundry process is the one certainty affecting its ultimate worth as a valued item – how long will it last? The complexity of operations in a laundry lies in automating the stages of the process. Computer control is now a ‘given’ and no advanced sequence of machines can operate without accepting this elemental fact. More so is the examination of some of the fundamentals inherent in the complete process. Water supply is perhaps the single first requirement for a laundry. But in the 21st century the heat requirement, as well as the volume needed at the wash and rinsing stages, is, in conjunction with the chemical requirement for soil and stain removal, under severe downward pressure in terms of the raw costs and volumes required to perform the function efficiently. Heat is the prime additive in processing, but its method of efficient generation to create the traditional medium of high pressure steam is also under spirited attack from the arrival on the scene of gas-fired tunnel washers and gas heated tumblers, gas heated ironers and gas fired garment tunnel finishers. Steam is, after possibly the longest period of dominance in industrial history, soon set to be replaced by direct

heating delivered to the processing unit where the process demands. Steam is not, today, seen as the automatic heat energy supplier of the future, although it still has an important place in certain applications within the laundry. Concomitant with the delivery of process-determined hot water heat supply by methods other than steam is the replacement in existing plants of the hundreds of meters of pipework and boiler capacity which are the trademarks of all steam driven plants. The maintenance costs inherent in steam supply are now no longer required. Cost of whole life installation is the key in this area as well as the productive effect of flexible oil-filled, thin bed, gas-fired ironers, where the heat is evenly delivered at correct temperature across the whole heated area including across the traditionally ‘cold bridge’ between the ironer rollers, found in some systems.

requirement The water in the wash process obviously contains heat energy as well as effluent so the efficient usage of the one and disposal of the other is critical to the optimisation of the performance of the tunnel washer and the expulsion of as much water as possible from the clean product. Re-use of rinse water by recycling is now almost a mandatory requirement

in all plants seeking to maximise their savings in both cost and water usage. Discharge effluent quality has a high cost as well as local legal requirements to meet; so this is also a function of the re-cycling heat energy saving of the effluent waste water. By placing an integrated rinsing and extraction processor at the end of the tunnel for even greater efficiency in rinsing as well as the removal of several tunnel stages a very significant advance in the wash/rinse processing stages is achieved – within a smaller footprint, with better rinse effect and quicker processing times. Processing times which usually allow between 135 and 300 second cycles - dependent on whether an extractor or press is used between wash batches of up to 100kg of work, at as little as 3.5 litres of water per kg of work produced. After washing stages, drying and feeding become major process areas where, traditionally, a considerable number of operatives were required in passing the textiles to the ironers and thence to the folders and packagers. Not so however in the most modern laundries, where the current maximum processing is achieved by the development of hugely sophisticated prespreading transport systems conveying large pieces directly to the one, or two-lane, ironers after being clipped to the

overhead rail transport system, then transported, spread and fed automatically into the ironer. Output rates of previously undreamt of performance levels are now entirely within the reach of all laundries and speeds of output using these highly sophisticated prespreaders can be of the order of 1600 pieces per hour on large piece single lane operation. Changing to two-lane operation for even greater throughput is automatic, as the rail delivery system detects the arrival of smaller width pieces at the feeding position and delivers its work accordingly. The foregoing review illustrates the huge gains in efficiency, allied to cost savings in heating, washing, rinsing, and extraction, feeding, drying, folding and packing which are now available to the industrial launderer. The future is highly automated, yet simple and straightforward in its complexity of operation. The gains which are necessary for the perfection of the ‘Green laundry’ are not achieved in the installation of any single one of the processes described outlined above, they are achieved in incremental steps which, taken together, will deliver the savings in performance and productivity which all laundry investments seek to deliver. A recent study tour of supremely efficient laundries in Germany was undertaken by Laundry & Cleaning Today and


Laundry Processing

IN LAUNDRY PROCESSING

Irving Scott reports from Germany

LEFT: Zischka: Sheets arriving at the Ergomat spreader for input to the ironer RIGHT: The pneumatic transportation system at Glosemeyer Laundry, Osnabruck whisks the textiles overhead across the plant to the next stage of processing BELOW: The ‘Holy Grail Study Tour’ guides at The Glosemeyer Plant in Osnabruck (left to right) Jens Appelbaum, technical sales Kannegiesser GmbH, Selwyn Burchhardt Kannegiesser UK, Ulrich Glosemeyer GmbH, Andreas Langer, technical designer Kannegiesser GmbH

Ulrich Glosemeyer, managing director, Glosemeyer TextilService, GmbH & Co. KG

The Kannegiesser energy management system condensation heat exchanger newly installed in the Glosemeyer Laundry in Osnabruck organised by Kannegiesser staff from the technical design and technical sales departments. This tour served to illustrate the claims made by outstanding examples of the processing and productivity statements outlined above. Three state-of-the-art laundries, one extending to 7,200 square metres in floor area, all demonstrated the central thesis that the ‘Green’ in laundry operations is achieved by constant vigilance at operational level, by constant application of technical skills excellence in design and by high quality manufacture of the individual elements in the machinery installed. All of these, plus the application of constant downward pressure on day-to-day performance costs which lead to startling, leastcost operation over the lifetime of the machines. Visiting first, the huge new plant of the Zischka family laundry business in Simmern, located a few miles from Frankfurt Hahn airport, we, as first time visitors, could only gaze in awe at the impression which this 7,200 square metre, single floor plant gives. Now directed by Georg Zischka, the son of the founder Rudolf Zischka, the plant has three wash lines equipped with 21 stage, 50kg, Kannegiesser tunnels, producing 1800 kgs per hour each of processed work, with three staff post-sorting the entire output of each wash line prior to drying/ironing and

packing, in a five-day, single shift operation. At Zischka there are also two comprehensive Supertrack monorail systems for differentiating soiled and clean lines of work, and remarkably there were absolutely no trucks of any variety across the 7,200 square metres of floor because all the work is stored in the system above the floor of the plant. The average output is now 54 tonnes per day (3 x 21 stage 50kg CBWs, x 1800 kg = 5400 kg/h x 10 h = 54 tonnes/day), an uplift from 50 tonnes per day in 2004 when the plant opened and all this is produced by 86 production staff working 10 hour days over five days. Stored water is kept in a huge ‘bund’ opposite the main entrance disguised as a small ‘ski-slope’ and its on-demand capacity is 550 cubic metres of conditioned fresh water supply. The average water consumption, including all the other requirements from offices and rest-rooms is 4.5 litres per kg processed; the water is largely re-cycled from the tunnels with only two litres per kg processed of fresh water added. The fresh incoming water is heated to 58°C, by using the hot air exhaust from the ironers as well as heat from the effluent waste water for use in the tunnel washers. Primary heating for the machinery in the plant is provided by a unique ‘dual-

fuel’ burner system which – according to the prevailing spot price of the fuel – can be either gas or oil. Although the dualburner system cost € 5,000 more than a single source burner, the effects on the economy of the plant have contributed very largely to the control of the external energy costs at Simmern. The installed steam generating capacity is provided by two boilers, one of seven tonnes capacity and a smaller one of four tonnes. Ultimately Zischka hopes to generate electricity from the waste heat produced in the plant to provide an urban districtheating system in conjunction with joint venture partners which include the Government of Rhineland Pfalz. Most work processed is sent in from hospitals, hospitality and care homes in a 100km radius collection area around Simmern, serviced by a fleet of 11, 12-tonne trucks covering 60,000 kilometres each per year. A smaller amount of work comes from the care home sector, giving a total plant loading of 70 per cent hospital, 20 per cent hospitality and ten per cent care homes. Georg Zischka commented on the corporate replacement policy thus: “We replace or install more productive machines and systems whenever there is a radical and significant new idea. Similarly by installing more of the latest kit from Kannegiesser we have

reduced our boiler steam demand by 50 per cent. “We have the best of relationships and experiences in working with Kannegiesser and the quality of the performance in each department of flatwork finishing is brilliant. Our wash house equipment is now on the way to performing at the same level where Kannegiesser has brought the Wetside machinery up to equivalent standards. Now the Supertrack Division is performing much better since Kannegiesser took it in-house and without doubt Martin Kannegiesser and his team have done a superb job in bringing the two companies together.

relationship “At the Texcare Show in Frankfurt last year more than 800 laundry professionals from around the world visited our plant here in Simmern and we showed them everything. Our relationship with Kannegiesser is such that when their engineers show us a new improvement we ask them to deliver when it is ready. We have never yet signed an official order – we trust each other completely.” Our second visit took us to the Glosemeyer plant in Osnabrück some 250 kilometres north east of Simmern. Here we found a very well organised laundry which is managed, in conjunction with his brother Burkhard, by Ulrich

Glosemeyer. This is a newly enlarged plant extending to 5,500 sq metres on three levels and fully equipped with Kannegiesser equipment. Work is processed from care homes and hospitals from the surrounding 100 kilometre radius district and is now close to 120 tonnes per week of rental linen and uniforms in standard healthcare livery of navy, green and white. The performance efficiencies at Glosemeyer are currently 6.0 litres of water per kg of work processed as an overall plant figure including the office but not the rest rooms. The PowerTrans jet tunnel washer delivers work at 3.0 litres per kg processed while the Kannegiesser 16-stage tunnel delivers the main washing load at 5.0 litres per kg of work processed. Gas consumption is currently rated at 0.80 kWh per kg of work processed (0.738 calorific value equivalent). The installed steam generating capacity is provided by one boiler to heat the ironers, the tunnel washers and supply live steam for the gas heated garment tunnel. The dryers are directly heated by gas. This is a significant reduction in energy cost achieved by application of the Kannegiesser energy monitoring system which has seen gas consumption driven down at Glosemeyer from the previous level of 1.1 kWh giving a verifiable, decrease of 30 per cent saving in gas input

costs. This low energy consumption is even achieved with a 75°C wash process using a steam boiler. Linen processed in the PowerTrans Jet use three litres of fresh water per kg of laundry processed to effectively rinse the main wash liquor from the load prior to extraction. The main wash liquor is immediately drained after transfer into the extractor, the drain is closed and the prepared, stored, rinse fresh water is sprayed onto the washed textiles in the unit which then oscillates backwards and forwards for a timed period, after which the drain is opened for the water to be re-used within the PowerTrans and a full extract then takes place. More significantly in terms of leading edge application of Kannegiesser energy management system, is the utilisation of the high temperature hot exhaust air from the three ironer lines and the garment tunnel finisher being passed through the newly installed Condensation Heat Exchanger which takes the air temperature down from 102°C to 54.9°C and in passing the inline plates containing fresh water, heats the incoming water from 12.0° to 50.0°C. This technique delivers an energy transfer of approximately 340 kW and has a potential peak

Continued over... July/August 2009 LCT 13


Laundry Processing LEFT: Voss: The input side of the tunnel installation with two of three Kannegiesser tunnels in view RIGHT: Voss: Some of the 1200 Kannegiesser garment hangers awaiting next-day’s sortation work BELOW RIGHT: Voss: Five of the ten Kannegiesser gasfired dryers mounted above the laundry floor BELOW: Voss: The tunnel output delivery end through the barrier wall

THE QUEST FOR THE HOLY GRAIL IN LAUNDRY PROCESSING performance of 700 kW. Ulrich Glosemeyer has a passion for the performance efficiencies within his plant and the plant control system, which is accessible from the terminal on his desk, gives him access to real-time figures for the energy and production performance at every stage of operation within the plant. His comments were instructive and illustrate the depth of feeling for the business which both he and his brother hold for their company: “My father started the business in 1955, but he unfortunately died at age 47 in 1978. My mother ran the business alone until I joined the business in 1985 as an apprentice engineer. My brother, who is in charge of the marketing of the Glosemeyer business, joined us in 1987 and we moved to this new site in 1988 which we have just extended to its present size. “The relationship which we have with the Kannegiesser Company is 45 to 50 years old and under my father, the Glosemeyer laundry became customer No. 94 of Kannegiesser. The rest of the story is, as they say, history. We have had a long term partnership and it continues; what else is there to say?” Our final plant visit was to the Grossw äscherei VOSS GmbH laundry in Wuppertal a short distance from Düsseldorf in the Ruhr valley. This is a brand-new laundry and it was

14 LCT July/August 2009

built and equipped to a Kannegiesser project management brief, developed in conjunction with the owner Herr Voss, and made essential as a result of a major fire in October 2007. The plant was built on a new site and equipment commenced delivery from Kannegiesser in March 2008 and the commissioning was completed and ‘handed over’ in May 2008. When the stores and despatch departments are complete at the end of June 2009 the total area will be over 5.000 square metres. The Kannegiesser project management involved up to 80 technicians and other staff on site for two months and when the first production week started each day saw increasing tonnages of work output of: 5, 8, 13, 18, and 22 tonnes respectively. This was a very impressive performance and is testimony to the skill and management of the Kannegiesser project team responsible for its delivery. At the VOSS plant there is a comprehensive garment sortation system installed in the ‘clean’ side of this ‘barrier’ plant behind three Kannegiesser tunnels installed ‘through the wall’ and two ironer lines under an overhead installation of ten gas fired driers installed on a mezzanine floor, together with Kannegiesser XMT five stage gas fired tunnel finisher. Four towel folders, each

with four sorting stackers, are used for the fully dried work whilst a garment system incorporating automatic garment folding machines, in conjunction with the tunnel finisher complete the garment system at Voss. The batches are distributed via a Supertrack clean monorail system to the relevant feeding stations and dryer loading positions. This new laundry equipment services the work from care homes, and healthcare customers in the surrounding 100 kilometre area, which is delivered by a fleet of 19 trucks and vans. Steffen Stratmann manages the operation of the plant in conjunction with the owner, Herr Voss, and his daughter. Steffen Stratmann was recruited to the company after a fifteen year career in production management in the nearby Hoover domestic appliance factory and his introduction to laundry management could not have been a better experience:

performance

“The first Voss laundry opened in Wuppertal in 1925 and this is the fourth plant the family has built, and the son of the founder still directs operations and oversees the performance on a daily basis. We are all very impressed with the efficiency and competence of the Kannegiesser project team and the Voss family laundries have always had a

very good relationship with the Kannegiesser Company. All the equipment performs as promised and we have reached a good productivity level very quickly as demonstrated by the very first week of live production.” So what have we learnt about seeking the ‘Holy Grail’ of laundries from our visit to Germany? The important things about 21st century laundry operations and its management. The first and most important point is that the quest for the ultimate efficiencies in machinery design and efficiency will continue as far into the future as can be foreseen. When the variables affecting the processing of textiles in an industrial context are so complex as a result of the interplay of the processes on the highly varied specifications of the textiles in use are understood, then will be the point for the culmination of the Quest. After this point the sophisticated subtleties and advanced designs of the machinery involved in the processing become an exercise in the advanced manufacturing which is necessary to allow a very high degree of flexibility in process control when installed and in use. What seems clear to us is that the pursuit of reduced energy, water, effluent and waste in the cost control of a laundry business will never end. Alternative methods and the

questioning of long-established techniques and processes is a constant and it too, will always remain. The concept of ‘The Green laundry’ which arrived in numerous guises at the Texcare Show in Frankfurt in 2008 focused the alert laundry manager ’s thoughts on the concept of managing his plant on Energy Optimised Machines. Under this concept in the Kannegiesser version of the ‘Green laundry’ the optimum efficiency of each machine in all stages of the laundry process has to be the prime objective of the plant management. Tunnel washers, dryers, ironers, and garment tunnel finishers must all be energy efficient and tuned to achieve their optimum performance in terms of energy utilisation in daily use. There has to be a comprehensive energy management system across all departments of the plant. Therefore laundries with a central steam boiler as well as the so-called steam-free laundry, both offer possibilities to save energy. The decision about which way to go, either with steam or steam-free, will depend on conditions which are different for every laundry operation. The Holy Grail in the title of this report is not found at a single destination; it is a journey which delivers ongoing and constant improvements in utilising energy efficiently and effectively, whilst

simultaneously improving output performance across the laundry. There has to be maximum efficient usage of all the heat energy generated as we saw in the condensation heat recovery system at the Glosemeyer laundry in Osnabrück. The extra heat generated over that which can be directly used in the laundry process could then be used for external purposes like a district heating scheme for positive revenue generation, as we saw in the ambitious plans being developed at the Zischka plant in Simmern. Optimisation of each machine’s tuning and set-up, coupled with the constants in good laundry management practice, as we have seen on our visits in Germany, are the key to the implementation of a ‘Green laundry’. The ‘silver bullet’ in laundry operation is not a oneshot investment in any single machine, it is, demonstrably, a complete dedication to the idea that we are all on a journey which can never end. A journey which demands of all the participants, that they are in a partnership from drawing board through to delivery. This is the essential message from the skilled teams representing the Kannegiesser company and its partners who are dedicated industrial laundry customers. Industrial launderers who, every day, deliver the promises to their own customers made possible by the team in Vlotho.


August 2009 - The Quest for the Holy Grail