According to the Prison Policy Initiative, Texas has more people incarcerated than any other state in the nation. With inmate populations approaching 250,000 people and continuously rising, prison budgets remain relatively unchanged, meaning the need is present for finding new ways to minimize costs. While not generally considered when making budget decisions, on-premises laundry is a leading cost center for those facilities.
In 2008, while installing laundry equipment at a San Antonio detention center, the facilities team revealed to the Scott Equipment team that they needed to install a new hot water system to handle the high volume of prison uniforms, linen, towels, and other items that must be washed regularly. With over 5,000 inmates at this facility alone, the need for hot water was enormous and could cost as much as $250,000 for a new water heating system.
Daily wash and dry loads to support these inmates were staggering.
- On-premise laundry operations handled over 214,000 pounds of laundry per week from ten 100 pound-washers and 12 dryers. To put it in perspective, that is the equivalent weight of a railroad locomotive engine.
- In addition, 696 person-hours per month (9.5 full-time employees) were needed to do the laundry.
- The cost to heat the water ran as much as $14,000 per month.
What Goes Into Clean Laundry?
Most people don’t realize that getting something clean includes five different factors, including:
- Time = the number of people it takes and how long it takes. For most, time = money
- Mechanical = Mechanical action of the equipment.
- Temperature = do you need hot or cold to get something clean
- Chemicals = how much and what types of different chemicals need to be used
- Procedures = Correct procedures are essential for everything else to function efficiently.
These factors all work together and must be troubleshot to find an optimal laundry solution. The problem is that by not understanding the impact to profit centers, costs can quickly escalate. The chart on the right demonstrates where the costs are incurred when running an on-premises laundry facility.
As experts in laundry operations, the Scott team evaluated each of these factors to determine the best mix of machine, procedures, and settings to reduce cost and person-hours.
Tony Pitkin, Vice President of Sales at Scott Equipment and a 36-year veteran in the chemical and laundry business, ran the calculations proving that ozone-based, cold water washing would not only fit the need for their high volume but eliminate purchasing new hot water system and reduce the amount of detergent and other chemicals needed regularly. This saves taxpayer dollars and the environment.
Most washers use warm or hot water. With an ozone laundry system, the washer ozonates cold, non-ozonated water as part of the machine’s wash process. It is a safe option due to it not producing any off-gas byproducts and uses less up to 95% less hot water and gas than conventional OPL systems.
Installing an ArtiClean ozone laundry system offers many advantages over traditional washers. The most noticeable of these benefits include better disinfection and sanitation rates, the elimination of harsh chemical treatments to extend the life of linens and uniforms, lower water and gas consumption, shorter dryer times, better smelling and more vibrant colors, and lower laundry room temperatures.
For this facility in San Antonio, the benefits of moving to an ozone-based system were immediately seen.
- In San Antonio, Texas, water comes from underground aquifers and is typically expensive. Ozone units use less water and shorter water cycles (flushes and rinses), saving 10-15 minutes per cycle, 365 days per year. This also equates to fewer labor hours required to run the operation.
- Heating water with gas adds to this cost (in the area of $6,000 per month).
- The benefit of using fewer chemicals reduces the cost of detergent and the need to purchase as many uniforms and linens.
- Not purchasing a new hot water system creates a huge return on investment within two years of purchase.
Monthly operations costs were reduced from $14,000 to $10,500 per month and, along with the equipment purchase, resulted in a cost savings of around 50%. Since that time, an additional ozone unit was purchased, making it the largest ozone unit installation in the US.
If you would like to learn more about how Scott Equipment can help reduce your laundry operations costs, contact our sales team today.