The OPL market continues to grow as an increasing number of establishments in both commercial and institutional sectors take laundry in house to gain direct control of costs and standards.

For the vast majority of OPLs, the biggest consumer of energy 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.

Cost remains an important factor in the OPL market, but it is far from the only one, according to Tom Lowes, director of Armstrong Commercial Laundry Systems, which supplies a wide range of dryers into the OPL market including care homes, hotels, schools and colleges.  The right choice of dryer will depend on the size of the washers being used – some smaller washers supplied by Armstrong have directly matching dryers.

Armstrong supplies the US-built Huebsch and Speed Queen models – the world’s best selling commercial dryers, which range from 8kg (200 litre) to 77kg (1,400 litre) capacities.

“Reliability, service back up and lifelong cost are also vital and the Huebsch range has an international reputation for long term reliability,” says Lowes. “In some small units, space can be at a premium, and stacked washer/dryers can make a functioning laundry possible in a very small area.” 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, add Lowes. “If anything does go wrong, Armstrong engineers are on hand by telephone to help if they can, but 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.

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. He reckons it saves him up to 65% compared to using a contract laundry company – although he isn’t including the capital outlay – but, according to Tom Lowes, “savings of 40-50% are often achievable when laundry is done in house.”

TenderCare, a recently expanded care home in Oldbury in the West Midlands caters for elderly residents and people with dementia. Its new laundry, which handles bedding, towels, kitchen and dining room items as well as all the residents’ personal clothing, was installed by Armstrong on the fixed price hire agreement. It includes two Huebsch tumble dryers, which are in operation up to 20 hours a day, according to Christine Stanton, the home’s manager.

“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.”

CATS Canterbury is an international college with eight residences offering a vast range of courses to some 400 students aged for 13-22. In addition to the academic work, the college aims to help students develop life skills which will better prepare them for university and adult life – all students have access to a laundry and are responsible for their own personal washing. House parents launder the bedding using the same equipment.

Over the past two years, the college has bought eight Horizon stacked washer dryers from Armstrong. Nicci Parsons, operations manager at the college, says: “Space is at a premium throughout the college – any room that’s left vacant will be turned into a classroom unless you’re quick!  So the stacked washer/dryers are an excellent solution providing efficient, reliable equipment that can be used by students and house parents in a minimum of space.” 


Hotel and spa sector

OPL market customers typically choose energy efficient dryers with easy-to-use programming. These maximise efficiency and effective drying of a wide variety of fabrics, according to Peter Marsh, managing director of Girbau UK

He says that while healthcare remains a large and important market for OPL laundries, financial constraints in this sector mean that Girbau UK is seeing stronger growth from the flourishing hotel, leisure and spa markets.

“Girbau’s on premise towel laundry concept for the hotel and spa sector has been very successful,” says Marsh. “These customers need to process large quantities of high quality towels and robes and are demanding energy efficient dryers, with fast drying times and high quality fabric care and finishing. Controllability is therefore important to ensure effective drying without overdrying and damaging fabrics.”

Stoke by Nayland is a luxury hotel, golf and spa resort near Colchester, Essex, where the quality of laundry and high volumes of towels and towelling are an important element in the whole customer experience. The resort realised that its existing laundry was no longer able to cope with the increased quantities of spa towels and hotel laundry it needed to process daily.

Girbau’s laundry consultants worked with the resort’s housekeeping team to identify shortfall areas in the existing laundry before recommending an upgrade capable of meeting capacity, quality and energy efficiency requirements. After meticulous planning the Girbau installation team fitted a laundry that included three energy efficient ED 660 gas dryers.

The Girbau ED660 gas dryers benefit from a 37kg capacity drum and many energy saving features including cabinet insulation and a double-glazed door that prevent heat escaping into the laundry room. The advanced Humidity Control feature senses when clothes are dry and automatically activates the cool down process, maximising energy efficiency and assuring the highest levels of textile care.

Housekeeping manager Steve Miles, says: “We are pleased to be achieving a full 75lb load in the Dryers in 25 just minutes. The faster cycle times have increased our operating capacity and made us much more efficient.”

The Stoke by Nayland laundry is in operation seven days a week with two shifts covering 9.30 am – 10.30 pm daily. In this time, the resort is now able to process all its hotel and spa laundry, except for the more specialist flatwork, which continues to be outsourced.

After–sales support is vitally important, says Marsh. The staff training that Girbau UK provides to customers after new machines have been installed is now seen as one of our most valuable services. “While the machines are easy and intuitive to control, the training ensures users are fully aware of how to get the best out of them both in terms of high quality results and efficient use of water and energy. In OPL environments staff are often multi-tasking and lack laundry experience which we can help provide.”

A reliable service response is still paramount. Customers typically want next-day or same-day turnaround on repairs. As a manufacturer, Girbau’s UK service team has unsurpassed access to spare parts for faster first time fixes as well.

In response to customer demand, Girbau has added two new higher capacity models to its popular ED range of OPL dryers.

The ED900 has a 900 litre, 50kg capacity drum while the ED1250 has a 1,250 litre drum and 69.4kg capacity.

Like all models in the ED range, the ED900 and ED1250 are available in gas, electric or steam heat options. They join the existing ED260, ED340. ED460 and ED660 models with capacities ranging from 14.5kg to 37kg.

A key feature of the ED Series EcoDryers is Girbau’s Transflow technology. This is a combination of both radial and axial airflow for maximum efficiency and drying throughout the drum, reduced cycle times and lower energy consumption. Girbau ED Series EcoDryers have 10 preset programs catering for most commonly laundered fabrics. Three short-cut functions, Eco, Soft and Half-Load are ideal for day-to-day adjustment and can be used in combination. Girbau’s exclusive G-drive system manages the operation of the inverter and motor controlling drum speed so programs precisely match the drying needs of each type of fabric.

The large drum is manufactured from top quality stainless steel plate and seated on a shaft with bearing rather than support wheels. This ensures quiet operation and trouble-free long life. The drum’s unique Care Touch design and manufacture with no sharp edges also prolongs linen life. In addition, the dryer’s flat-blade high-speed fan with no inner joints ensures high performance stability and low machine maintenance.


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 new 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.

According to Mick Christian, regional training & demonstration manager for laundry at Electrolux Professional, more and more care home managers implementing a proper laundry cycle management process and looking to install on-premises laundries. This is due to the greater level of control it can offer with regards to prevention of infection, he says, adding that OPLs also offer versatility and consistency, while saving money. ““The latest innovations in laundry technology offer care home managers added peace of mind in the fight against infection. For example, Temp°Check is a process validation tool which allows operators to validate that thermal disinfection has taken place. The nifty compact, universal control is the perfect tool to enable businesses to comply with a strict and growing set of laundry criteria – particularly prevalent in the care sector. It also provides productivity reports, which show the efficiency of the laundry equipment, to create a more economical and profitable laundry.

“When we consider hotels and guesthouses, size of premise is a huge factor to bear in mind and OPL solutions can vary dramatically. 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.

“For gyms and fitness clubs it is less about volume and more about space. We are experiencing a shift towards compact solutions, but with the capacity to deal with commercial loads at a quicker rate than their domestic counterparts. This allows smaller establishments to set-up in-house, or up-grade their domestic washers to deal with the constant demand. The Electrolux Professional myPRO washer and dryer series is the perfect investment for businesses striving for best-in-class results but don’t have the budget to invest in a completely commercial laundry facility. Smaller in size, but not in capability, myPRO is made for professional environments and boasts a professional warranty. It’s the perfect solution for smaller establishments.