The Wascherie Kampschulte signals its high healthcare laundering standards, even before you arrive. Driving up to the premises in Soest, Germany, you immediately notice the flags bearing the Rentex logo.

The Rentex organisation, devoted to private-sector hospital linen rental, demands and enforces a high degree of professional competence in all areas including linen sterilisation and plant hygiene.

Its technical officers make regular unscheduled calls on members to ensure that strict procedures are being followed.

At Wascherie Kampschulte, the managers carry out monthly checks to ensure the plant is keeping up to both Rentex and the management’s standards – the latter, I was told, are even more exacting than those imposed by Rentex.

The laundry serves 22 hospitals in the Dortmund-Kassel area and supplies 6000 patient beds with a minimum of 2kg, of linen per day, per bed. It has more than 250 different items on inventory, uses the pool-stock system and charges on a price-per-piece basis, with one clean, sterile item replacing a returned, soiled one.

In all it processes 20tonnes of hospital linen per day, 90% of which is bedlinen for ward use. The rest is made up of green theatre linen, patient covers, polycotton workwear and other low-volume classifications.

After processing, theatre “greens” are sent to another Rentex plant in Hagen where they are put into sterile packs.

To meet high standards for linen sterilisation and process hygiene the Kampschulte management recently installed two Senking tunnel washers, both with 50kg compartmental loadings. The first is a contra-flow,13-compartment machine using one of the latest Senking 45bar high-pressure membrane presses. This machine handles all the normally- soiled, white work.

The second washer is used for theatre “greens”, gowns, patient covers and the like. This is an 11-compartment Universal machine with the proven Senking integral centrifugal hydro extractor.

Fibre contamination on theatre wear is unacceptable as the atmosphere should be clean and free of all air-borne particles.

To this end Senking, in co-operation with Rentex and its members, designed a special filtration system which ensures that the recovered rinse stage, mixed with fresh water, is virtually lint free.

This is one of a number of options which make the Senking Universal tunnel washer one of the most versatile systems on the market, with total bath exchange plus economy in water and wash chemical usage. The machine can also handle mixed classifications, requiring various degrees of boiling, in sequence, without running empty compartments, provided there is a common cycle time.

Both Senking tunnel washers have wash processes formulated to ensure colour brightness and stain removal, especially stains caused by contact with medication.

Sterilisation is of prime importance in the fight against cross-infection. The contra-flow machine operates on 2.5min cycles and the Universal on 3.3min. Linen sterilisation is carried out at 90° Celsius for 10min.

With some machines, the items furthest away from the steam injectors can register temperatures as much as 15° to 20° below the sterilisation norm. However, the configuration of the Senking QWM cylinder ensures an even temperature throughout the whole charge of linen, so proper sterilisation is assured.

Water costs are another worry for laundry managers. At Kampschulte the contra-flow machine uses 5.5 litres/kg of work processed while the Universal machine uses 8.5 litres/kg. Both machines use recovered rinse water, but while the contra-flow washer processes standard linen in bulk, the Universal uses bath exchange for theatre “greens,” polycotton processing, and as cooldown for these classifications.

However, I was interested to learn that the overall water consumption for the Kampschulte plant was as low as 11.8litres/kg, this included all water used for personal hygiene, the canteen, floor and general cleaning.

The installation of the Senking washers was not an easy task as the machines had to be “shoehorned” into a tight space with low ceilings and this presented engineering problems. However, these have been overcome and the Kampschulte plant now has a highly-efficient, cost-effective installation which meets the standards for linen cleanliness, sterilisation, finish and presentation demanded by both Rentex and the company’s own patient-care policy.

The laundry managers showed me the end product with pride. Pristine packs of well-laundered and finished linen were coming off the folder-stacker. These had been film wrapped and treated in a hot-seal shrink unit and were stacked on a trolley, ready for ward use.

After seeing the high laundering and finishing standards achieved by Kampschulte, I could appreciate the advantages of the pool-stock hospital linen rental system. Hospital administrators would be hard put to find fault with the services they had bought.

Questioning the research

A German University has been researching sterilisation and in a soon to be published report suggests that three minutes at 90° Celsius gives sterilisation equal to that of the longer period. Rental launderers may be tempted by this finding because it can reduce costs, but I believe it is open to question. If some tunnel washers fail to reach a consistent, overall, sterilisation temperature for the whole charge, how can proper sterilisation be achieved in a mere 3min.
It should be remembered that the type of detergent used can have an adverse effect on sterilisation levels. For classifications such as polycotton workwear and long-stay patients’ clothing, the type of detergent, along with its formula and active ingredients, must be declared so that correct wash processes can be formulated.

Moving with the times

A new type of powered accumulation roller conveyor could prove attractive to launderers who need to move packaged goods with efficiency and safety.
The Excelvayor UB Series conveyor design represents a breakthrough in powered roller conveyors, says Excel Conveyors, its manufacturer.
Fast working An Excelvayor UB Series conveyor allows fast working and offers a smooth, constant operational speed. Furthermore, it is quiet, has a low maintenance requirement , and features a totally enclosed drive mechanism – important from the safety standpoint.
Each roller is fitted with a toothed pulley that is positively driven by a continuous belt which is sandwiched between the main roller pulleys and a series of smaller idlers.
Accumulation is provided by a patented clutch – slip-torque – mechanism that resides within each roller. When pressure on an individual roller reaches a prescribed level, the clutch allows the roller to freewheel. This enables accumulation of packages, crates and boxes under an extremely low-line pressure, eliminating potentially costly damage to items and wrapping.