BISMARCK, N.D. — Central Dakota Hospital Laundry (CDHL) Manager Greg Lorenz was faced with a challenging question. When should he replace an efficient tunnel system that has been working well for many years? Lorenz got his answer when the financing that was available became too good to pass up.
With financing in place and approval from its board, CDHL looked to The Minnesota Chemical Co. for a new Milnor tunnel washer. The local distributor sold the original tunnel system back in 1992.
The seven-module 76032 CBW® tunnel was in excellent shape after 17 years of continuous operation, effectively processing 3.2 million pounds of healthcare goods annually for two local hospitals, St. Alexius Hospital and Medcenter One.
Lorenz worked with Minnesota Chemical’s Denny Franson to determine the most appropriate equipment for the updated laundry, based on its production goals and the linen demands of both hospitals.
With all of those factors considered, they chose to replace the “mint condition” tunnel with an eight-module, 110-pound-capacity 76028 CBW tunnel washer; a single-stage press, and three 64058 pass-through dryers with capacities of 200-320 pounds. Also recently installed in the laundry are an Imperial flatwork ironer, a Skyline large-piece folder, two Air Chicago XL small-piece folders and a King Edge feeder, all from Chicago Dryer Co.
The laundry relies on a Milnor CONWA weighing conveyor to both weigh the goods and introduce goods into the Milnor CBW when the system calls for the next load.
Lorenz uses clean, dry weight of goods to assess costs to the laundry’s customers, as he believes it’s a better system than costing by soiled weight.
After the goods are sorted and loaded into the tunnel, laundry staff members place empty carts underneath the pass-through dryers to wait for goods to discharge. CDHL staff also feeds the ironers and packages the processed goods for distribution to the two hospitals Monday through Friday, in eight-hour shifts. The staff includes 19 full-time employees, with an average tenure of 15 years.
The modernized, automated wash-to-dry process and automated flatwork processing are vital for CDHL because they ensure overall efficiency and reduce linen loss from transport, according to Lorenz.
Now, there is less production downtime and reduced linen loss with this new system, which positively affects the laundry’s bottom line and promotes excellent patient care.
While the machinery is paramount to CDHL’s success, so is the laundry’s management and its dedication to preserving that success.
“Greg is meticulous, as is his mechanic, Jay Seeberg,” says Franson about why CDHL gets its job done so well. “This is the cleanest, most well-maintained laundry you’ll ever visit. You could eat off the floor!”
That is quite a compliment considering the laundry processes surgical linen and patient linen among other healthcare goods.
WORKING OVERTIME TO GET THE JOB DONE
In order to have any tunnel system perform to its full potential, proper machinery layout and installation are vital. Minnesota Chemical and CDHL worked with Milnor’s Application Engineering Department to design the conveyor system, the tunnel-system layout, and flatwork finishing.
Once they had confirmed the machinery locations, the real challenge began — getting the old system out and the new one installed in less than seven days.
Throughout the weeklong installation (the average tunnel installation is 14 days), Gary Halloran, Milnor’s field and service engineer, had to work swiftly to meet the strict deadline. Four Minnesota Chemical service technicians came in from the distributor’s Iowa and Minnesota branches to assist him.
Meanwhile, Lorenz and his staff worked overtime to process the incoming linen using three Milnor Q-Series washer-extractors — two with 90 pounds capacity, the third with 50 pounds — originally installed with the tunnel system in 1992.
Lorenz had arranged to have the installation performed at the time of lowest linen usage of the year. He met with hospital staff to conserve linen as much as possible, and he built up his linen par levels at the hospitals.
With teamwork and a plan, Halloran made his deadline, with hours to spare. After a few test loads, the new tunnel’s wash quality was approved. “I had lots of good people to work with, from the rigger, to the Minnesota Chemical staff, down to the people who worked in the laundry.”
Lorenz and his staff were so pleased with the outcome, the manager wrote a letter to Minnesota Chemical President Mike Baker. Lorenz complimented Franson, whom he said “isn’t afraid to pick up a broom, turn a wrench, or do anything that will keep the job moving along.”
With this new, improved system, the laundry has seen excellent results in utility savings, process times, and overall processed-linen poundage, according to Lorenz.
The laundry even had to slow the tunnel so the pre-sort area could keep up. And, since switching from a two-stage press to the 50-bar, single-stage press, its loads each take four to five minutes less to dry. Moreover, with transfer times of 3 minutes, 14 seconds, the entire laundry’s hourly output has reportedly increased 8.5%.
’92 TUNNEL SERVES NEW OWNER FAMILIAR WITH ITS PERFORMANCE
So, where is the “mint condition” 1992 washer now? It’s been installed in Carolina Linen Management’s commercial laundry plant in Greensboro, N.C., where it helps process 11 million pounds of linen a year.
Director of Maintenance Sam Cole was eager for Carolina Linen Management to purchase the tunnel because he knew how well it would perform. The company already had two other 1992 Milnor tunnels.
“Milnor strives to make quality machines using the best and latest materials and technologies,” Cole says. “This combination makes a high-quality laundry machine that brings many years of service.”