Because of the amount of lint that a laundry generates, how often should my laundry be blown off, and to what degree? Do you recommend having a formal policy that describes exactly what is to be done and when? What benefits can I reap from a lint-removal program?
TEXTILE/UNIFORM RENTAL: Roger Bourdeau is chief engineer for the Angelica Textile Services plant in Pawtucket, R.I. He's worked 22 years in the plant, having started as a production associate in 1983. He's completed many training programs and has a Rhode Island Stationary Operating Engineer license.
Ah, yes, snow in July. Get those air hoses fired up and it certainly can seem like it!
Well, in a plant producing more than 250,000 pounds per week, I think it’s safe to say that a blow-down should be performed daily. Otherwise, it will snow in July.
The people who conduct your blow-down operations can tell you which areas get it particularly bad. It’s usually an ironing area (folder air blasts liberate a lot of loose fibers from flatwork) and/or a drying area (a dryer’s main blower can move a lot of air). Those areas may require a daily blow-down.
Depending on your mix of goods and hours of operation, a facilitywide blow-down may periodically be in order.
After following your lock-out/tag-out program for safety, don those dust masks and put on your goggles. Remember that OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] requires low-pressure nozzles or regulators to limit air pressure to 35 psi or less.
Lint clogs cooling fans on motors and controls, causing them to run hotter than the temperature to which they are designed and increasing their failure rates.
Lint buildup dramatically increases your risk of fire. At the very least, such buildup on pipes and surfaces is an unsightly mess that will make your otherwise well-run facility show poorly during customer tours or management inspections.
Some time ago, there was a push to vacuum up lint. While I don’t know of an operation that’s doing it on a plantwide basis (it does work well on dryers equipped with steam coils, for example), there’s some validity to the claim that using compressed air will actually push lint further into electronic components rather than push it out.
But using a vacuum may cause employees to have to get in closer to the components, thus increasing the risk of damage to delicate items like computer boards. It certainly will make the task take longer to complete.
In a hospital or another location where the laundry operations are part of a larger facility, it may be the only choice to keep the lint confined to the laundry area while you’re cleaning it up.
Either way, get that lint out of your equipment regularly to improve your facility’s cleanliness, safety and appearance. Then you can leave the snowstorms to Old Man Winter.