The OPL market is governed by two main customer sectors, hospitality and care/residential homes. Where equipment sales in both sectors have tended to be replacement, there are strong signs that an increasing number of establishments in both commercial and institutional sectors take laundry in house to gain direct control of costs and standards.

In the hospitality sector, quality and appearance are important and several manufacturers note that there is a swing away from outsourcing requirements and hotels are once more beginning to invest in an on-site service that gives them full control over the quality and appearance of their linens.

The biggest consumer of energy in the laundry is the tumble dryer, so the latest innovations must be able to deliver enhanced performance to ensure the theoretical benefits of bringing laundry in house are actually met.

In response to customer demand in the OPL and commercial laundry sectors, Girbau has added two new large capacity models to its successful range of OPL (ED) dryers. The new ED900, with a drum of 900 litres and a capacity of 45kg and the ED1250, with a drum of 1,250 litres and a capacity of 62.5kg.

Like all machines in the ED range, known for its sleek design; the ED900 and ED1250 is available with gas, electric and steam heating options. The latter dryers join the ED260, ED340, ED460 and ED660 already firm favourites in the market, with capacities ranging from 13 kg to 33 kg (R.1 / 20)

The new features exclusively available on the ED900 and ED1250 dryers include the modulation of gas heating as standard. Different burners can be activated separately for increased efficiency and better energy management for all types of laundry. The steam-heated ED900 and ED1250 models feature a steel heat exchanger to facilitate the use of high-pressure steam and are supplied with a cooling trap for optimal efficiency and better linen finishing.

A second inverter on the fan motor of these new models provides improved modulation of the airflow allowing users to adjust the dryers for different types of exhaust installations. This feature also makes it possible to adjust the cycle of the program to obtain better results according to the load.

The ED series dryers have intuitive, powerful and easy-to-use control options making them suitable for all end users. PRO multiphase programming is available for professional and advanced users and allows temperature, rotation speed and heat intensity of each drying phase to be tailored to exact requirements of load. Switching to EASY mode provides simple and easy-to-use controls for basic users.

Girbau recently installed a new laundry and wetcleaning facility at the DoubleTree by Hilton Milton Keynes hotel, which is uniquely built around Stadium MK. The Hilton brand is celebrating “100 Years in Hospitality” this year and the DoubleTree by Hilton Milton Keynes Stadium site boasts 304 guest rooms that are positioned around the pitch. Stadium MK is home to the MK Dons FC and multipurpose Marshall Arena, hosting concerts by Take That and Rod Stewart. The indoor event space can accommodate up to 5,000 guests and in times of full capacity the laundry can be processing many tonnes of linen, including all the sheets, duvet covers, pillowcases, towels, face cloths, robes and shower curtains. The busy four people, per shift housekeeping team not only process hotel linen, guest laundry and front of house staff uniforms; when the venue is running at full capacity they will also process linens for the catering, banqueting and events teams, ensuring that the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse restaurant’s napkins and table linens are whiter than white!

The laundry refurbishment saw two large capacity ED1250 Gas Dryers and an ED460 installed to match two Girbau HS-6 series 57kg washers, a 24kg washer and 13kg washer and two new PBP 5132 Ironers.

All towelling and linen from bedrooms and tablecloths and napkins from conference and banqueting departments was previously all outsourced, said Nielsen Stead, general manager of DoubleTree by Hilton Milton Keynes. “The key objectives and justification in considering an in-house laundry facility, in addition to the financial benefits, was to have full control of stock, and to improve the quality of the linen we provide our guests,” said Stead. “Our objectives have been achieved, and with savings versus outsourcing at 54% since we went live on 1 January, it means our ROI forecast is now 18 months, sooner than originally expected.”

Stephen Hodgkins, global sales and business development manager hospitality for Girbau Group, who worked on this project from the initial analysis through to commissioning and handover, said he “really enjoyed working with the Nielsen and his team at DoubleTree by Hilton Milton Keynes and was thrilled with the positive feedback”. He also praised the Girbau UK installations team including manager Mark Beavis, who was responsible for the successful delivery and commissioning of the Hilton DoubleTree project.


Laundry cycle management

From cleaning residents’ garments safely, to making sure bed linen and upholstery are hygienic, care homes need to invest in laundry equipment that guarantees operators complete peace of mind, and ensure dignity for every resident, according to Mick Christian, regional training and demonstration manager for laundry at Electrolux Professional. “Care home managers are now implementing a proper laundry cycle management process and there is an increasing demand for on-premises laundries (OPL). This is namely due to the greater level of control it can offer with regards to prevention of infection.”

In the hospitality sector – hotels, B&Bs, and guesthouses – the size of the premise is an important factor to bear in mind and it’s because of this that OPL solutions can vary dramatically, says Christian. “Speed is also a significant driver as many establishments are faced with the daily task of processing the linen in each room, towels, table linen, as well as staff uniforms, and other items that need to be washed. The most popular solutions in the hospitality sector are dedicated washer-extractors, dryers, and ironers, namely due to the sheer volume of material they can process.

“That said, no matter how large or small the premises, there is always a solution available – be it a towel laundry, a complete OPL, or something smaller, like the myPRO smart-professional solution.”

Christian agrees that price will always have an impact on purchasing decisions, but believes that the cost of the OPL dryer itself should be weighed up alongside other important benefits in order to make a final decision.

“Efficiency, for example, should be a key consideration for OPL providers looking to both reduce their monthly outgoings and provide a quick and reliable service for their customers. Most laundry services are now investing in innovative ways to provide a service that is both sustainable and profitable which will offer and efficient laundry service that makes a substantial impact on the bottom line of the business.”

The Electrolux Professional Line 6000 dryer, for example, features an advanced technology that consistently provides laundry services with up to 60% savings on energy.

The dryer features an adaptive fan, which adjusts fan speed automatically to save energy and reduce drying time while providing an even drying result. For example, when there is more than one tumble dryer in a series and the ventilation duct has a constant diameter, the adaptive fan will adjust the fan speed to keep air flowing efficiently. The adaptive fan control also makes the fan last longer.

Electrolux Professional launched its range of Line 6000 dryers and unveiled them at ExpoDetergo in 2018, and held a distributor event at the dedicated laundry equipment manufacturing facility in Ljungby, Sweden for a more in-depth inspection earlier this year.

The Line 6000 range is available in electric, gas and steam versions, and the company has introduced a heat pump option that can be offered on all models in the range. Electrolux says the Line 6000 tumble dryers are streets ahead of other dryers in terms of energy savings and speed, thereby potentially adding substantially to the operator’s bottom line in lowered running costs and increased productivity.

According to Electrolux, the Line 6000 dryers provide the shortest drying time on the market, with the smaller machine taking just 44 minutes to dry 6kg of garments – the larger being even more efficient.

Electrolux claims for the HP models 60% savings on energy compared with traditional dryers. “The trade-off for heat pump energy savings in the past was slower drying times but Electrolux has managed to achieve, with the 14kg machine a full load dried in 35 minutes and in the 20kg machine a full load in just 42 minutes,” according to Silvana Johannson, head of category, business unit laundry. “The heat pump line is suitable for installation almost anywhere thanks to its small footprint and plug & play capabiities even in awkward basement laundries as there is no need for exhaust ventilation or a water cooling system.”

Sandford Station in the Mendip Hills is a rural retirement village, built by the St Monica Trust, which consists of 102 independent living flats, houses, and listed buildings. Julie Miles, housekeeping team leader says that the Sandford offers a laundry service as part of the package for residents living there. “We do approximately 60-70 loads per week ranging from small items of clothing, to bed linen, quilts and curtains and everything in-between.”

Having used Electrolux Professional laundry products since the site opened, the Sandford Station team knew that the Electrolux Line 6000 would be a welcome addition to the high quality on-premises laundry services. The Line 6000 dryer is designed with a high turnover laundry service in mind and benefits from increased productivity due to a larger capacity and quick drying time. “The Line 6000 tumble dryer has been a good addition to our laundry because it saves us time, and is much more efficient and maintains a better heat,” says Julie. “We’ve noticed approximately a 25% reduction in cycle times using the dryer with all different types of fabrics.”

The Line 6000 dryer features the latest extension to Electrolux Professional’s Compass Pro control, which offers a large interactive digital display to select the desired settings and programs. The control also features Quick Select buttons for fast access to frequently used programs for normal/low temperature cycles and delicate materials. “The new digital display has helped with the service because there are a lot more programs to choose from, so we now have a wider variety of drying functions to suit all needs,” says Julie. “We’ve already been using some of the new programs – for instance, the wool program has helped to prevent the shrinkage of woollen garments, and the airing program ensures the washing goes back to the customer perfectly dried.”

The Compass Pro control ensures Julie and her team are able to quickly dry any type of material without damaging the garment, which is ideal for keeping the service at Sandford Station efficient and effective so residents receive their laundry dried to a high quality.

With a high volume of laundry to dry daily, the drying machines used by the team must be easy to maintain and comfortable to operate. “The new dryer is much easier to clean and maintain. In terms of lint removal, it’s a simple drawer to pull out to empty the lint whereas before we had to take the whole front of the machine off in order to clean it. It’s much easier,” Julie adds.

“The heat pump dryer is good for a basement laundry because it doesn’t need external extraction and it’s quieter than a normal tumble dryer. We’ve also noticed a huge difference in the noise. It’s a lot quieter than the other dryer that we are using – anything you can cut down on is great, and the residents living upstairs appreciate less noise – it’s a good addition to our existing laundry equipment.”


Dryer technologies

Miele Professional has different dryer technologies in its portfolio, starting from standard electric, gas or steam heated dryers through to heat-pump technology and its H2O dryers that use only the heat extracted from hot water to dry the laundry.

Miele Professional now offers slimline heat-pump dryers for customers with limited space and large volumes of laundry to process. The PT 8203 WP has been introduced to the SlimLine series and, with a width of only 71cm, fits through doors and into confined spaces with ease.

The heat-pump module is fully integrated into the dryer itself. The PT 8203 WP has a load capacity of up to 10kg and a drum volume of 200litres. The other heat-pump dryers from Miele cater for load capacities of 6.5kg, 10kg and 13kg.

Armstrong Commercial Laundry Systems is a longstanding UK dealer for Alliance Laundry Systems, the producer of commercial laundry brands such as Speed Queen, Huebsch and Primus, which include machines specifically designed for operators of on-premise laundries. Armstrong merged with Solent Laundry Solutions (SLS) and Hughes Pro to form WashCo in March this year and operates from a brand new, spacious facility in Newbury, Berkshire.

The Huebsch and Speed Queen commercial dryers supplied by Armstrong range from 8kg (200 litre) to 77kg (1,400 litre) capacities. The Huebsch range has an international reputation for long term reliability. Options in the range include cabinet dryers and the larger Loadstar/Twinstar tumblers. All the Huebsch and Speed Queen models are simple to operate and service, and should anything go wrong, Armstrong engineers are on hand by telephone to help and if a call out is necessary, customers can rely on the company’s efficient national service coverage.

Armstrong offer a range of attractive finance packages to assist customers including a fixed price hire agreement which means there is no capital outlay and no additional cost for parts and labour throughout the agreement period.

TenderCare, a recently expanded care home in Oldbury in the West Midlands caters for elderly residents and people with dementia. The laundry handles everything from the home – bedding, towels, kitchen and dining room items as well as all the residents’ personal clothing – and was installed by Armstrong on the fixed price hire agreement. It includes two Huebsch tumble dryers which, according to Christine Stanton, the home’s manager, are in operation up to 20 hours a day.  “The machines are very reliable, easy to use and the fixed price hire option helps us with budgeting and makes sure that there are no nasty shocks if a machine does break down.”

The 36-room Le Friquet Hotel in Guernsey countryside has a heated outdoor swimming pool and a popular restaurant featuring much of the local seafood. All the hotel laundry is done on site including bedding, towels, napkins and kitchen items. The existing hotel laundry equipment included three washers and one gas tumble dryer, but recently James Speers, the general manager, decided to increase the drying capacity. Following a recommendation from a local company he contacted Armstrong Commercial Laundry Systems and bought a Huebsch 16kg capacity electric dryer. “We are open all year round, although our peak period is from April to the end of September”, James told us.  We wanted a second dryer, and decided to opt for an electrically powered one to take advantage of the annual variations in electricity prices on the island”. 

At the 28 room Crow Park Hotel in Keswick, the laundry operation includes three Huebsch tumble dryers supplied by Armstrong. Ian Finn, owner of the hotel, says the Huebsch dryers are excellent. “Two of the three I’ve had for 10 years of so without any service callouts,” he says, adding that all the hotel’s laundry is done in house and during the season, the dryers are in use at least four hours a day. He keeps a very close eye on his expenditure and knows accurately what he spends each year on replacement linen and towels, gas, water, chemicals and a proportion of staff costing.