Same laundry, using 1/3 the water, was the theme when the HCA North Texas held the grand public opening of its state-of-the-art 38,000ft2 laundry in Coppell in 2006.

The HCA laundry began in a strip mall in Bedford Texas in 1999. It served seven hospitals in the surrounding area and had to operate 24 hours to satisfy production requirements.

“The original laundry had very low ceilings, no automation and no utility saving equipment,” says Rod Gallimore, EVS/laundry/linen co-ordinator. He explained that it was opened as a test site for HCA to make sure that the service could handle the task at hand.

“We proved to HCA we could serve its linen needs successfully, but knew we could not continue to operate our equipment around the clock without any downtime. In 2004, we started planning a state-of-the-art laundry that could handle the current task with room for growth.

“The laundry in Coppell was my dream,” says recently-retired Rod Gallimore. “I wanted HCA to have a showcase laundry and that is exactly what we achieved.”

Brian Allen, the current laundry manager, says that labour and utility savings were key factors in the choice of an equipment supplier. “We chose Pellerin Laundry Machinery Sales Company because they offered the best solutions to our needs and had the most proven experience with automated CBW Systems.” The 38,000ft2 laundry operates an extended single shift, six days a week but now processes linen for a total of nine hospitals and two surgery centres.

HCA North Texas began working with Scott McClure of Pellerin Laundry Machinery Sales Company in 2004 to design and develop and its new laundry. In 2005, Brian Allen and Rod Gallimore found the perfect building for their laundry, across the street from HCA’s supply chain. “I thoroughly enjoyed working with Rod and Brian to bring their dreams to fruition” says Scott McClure. “In designing a laundry, our goal is to offer the best solution to the customer’s needs.

Labour and utility costs were key concerns for HCA. “The fully automated laundry now achieves labour and utility savings in excess of $1million. It is definitely a success and I am proud to have been a part of this partnership,” adds McClure.

HCA also used Turn-Key Industrial Engineering and the ARCO-Murray Company to turn its building into a laundry and was extremely satisfied with their services. These included MEP permit drawings, demolition and re-fabrication of walls throughout the building, trenching, utility supply and connection infrastructure, final utility and ducting connections to all the laundry equipment, HVAC spot cooling and professional supervision throughout the renovation and installation.

The HCA North Texas laundry primarily consists of Milnor washing/drying equipment, Chicago flatwork and full dry equipment and an E-Tech soil and clean materials handling system.

The Milnor equipment includes two Milnor 150lb capacity, 8-module 76039 CBW Washers, two Milnor MP1603CL single-stage presses, two Milnor COLFQ112 two-tier elevating storage conveyors, a COSHQ two-tier shuttle conveyor, six Milnor 64058 gas dryers, two Milnor M175 gas dryers, a Milnor Mildata production management system and two Milnor lint collectors.

The Chicago Equipment includes a Pic Quik sheet separating system, King edge feeder, a 2-roll 52 Powerhouse thermal ironer and a 2-roll 52 Century steam ironer, Chicago Skyline folders, four Air Chicago towel and gown folders, a Chicago Blanket Blaster system and two Chicago mini blanket and knitted fitted sheet folders.

The E-Tech system consists of a fully automated “sort-on-rail” soil-side rail delivery system and fully automated clean-side rail system all controlled by E-Tech’s RailPro computer management system.

The laundry also has a fully automated Felins tying system, a Kemco heat reclamation system, a Williams & Davis Boiler and an Ingersoll-Rand air compressor system.

The use of E-Tech equipment, the Milnor CBW washers and the Felins automatic tying systems means that the linen is only handled twice before being placed on a make-up cart to be shipped back to the hospitals. The linen is hand-sorted into the E-Tech soil rail system (1st touch), automatically delivered to one of two Milnor CBW Systems, automatically dried and discharged into the E-Tech clean rail system and automatically delivered to one of seven clean-side-drop stations. It is then fed by hand into either a Chicago ironer or folder (2nd touch) before being automatically discharged onto a Felins conveyor system with traffic control, automatically tied into bundles and prepared for placing in the make-up cart.

“Labour is one of the laundry’s highest operational costs. Simply put, the more an operator has to handle the linen during processing, the more the operating cost will be. By offering complete automation, the new HCA laundry is able to maintain a rate of 140 – 170 pieces per operator-hour. The employees barely handle the linen.” says Scott McClure of Pellerin Laundry.

HCA’s North Texas division is centrally located and its entire customer base is within 30 miles of the laundry. It is currently operating with fewer than 35 full-time production staff. At the old plant, before installing the Milnor tunnels there were up to 70+. As a result, HCA has achieved substantial labour savings. It also finds that the increased automation has helped it to keep staff for longer and improved employee morale.

The re-wash rate has been reduced to 2 – 3% so the HCA is ahead of the national average of 4 – 6%.

The laundry uses about 1.9 gallons of water/lb and this accounts for the total, not just that used in the tunnels. The water used in washing has been cut from about 3 gallons/lb to 1 gallon/lb. So water savings are about 66%.

HCA is also pleased with its Mildata computer network. Milnor’s computer management system for laundries and textile plants is used to troubleshoot any problems that may arise with the tunnels and dryers and find ways to improve their efficiency.

HCA finds the system easy to use as it allows the company to monitor the laundry’s operations through automatically printed reports that can be tailored to the company’s specific needs. This type of information is vital in determining the laundry’s efficiency and its ability to achieve savings in water, energy, and labour.

Brian Allen, HCA North Texas plant manager noted that: “Since the addition of the Milnor CBW tunnels, even employee morale has improved because all parts of the laundry are working well together. The automated loading is much easier on our employees and is much less physically demanding. Thanks to Pellerin Laundry we’ve created a much better working environment for our employees.”

HCA, the nation’s leading provider of healthcare services, is composed of locally managed facilities that include approximately 182 hospitals and 94 outpatient surgery centres in 22 states, England and Switzerland. At its founding in 1968, Nashville-based HCA was one of the nation’s first hospital companies. HCA’s mission and vision is: “Above all else, we are committed to the care and improvement of human life. In recognition of this commitment, we strive to deliver high quality, cost effective healthcare in the communities we serve.”

CBW and Mildata are registered trademarks of Pellerin Milnor Corporation