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Lightening the load

29 September 2017

Stephen Hodgkins, national business development manager at Girbau UK explains the benefits of an on-premise towel laundry in hospitality establishments

Are there any simple ways to cut costs without affecting customer service in today’s highly competitive hospitality industry?

If you currently outsource laundry, one answer is to install a dedicated towel laundry in your hotel. Not only should this offer considerable savings in running costs, it also enables you to personalise and control the quality of towels offered to your guests. Over time many hoteliers experience a drop off in the quality of an outsourced laundry contract as fabrics begin to wear, grey and no longer smell and feel fresh.

With an on-premise towel laundry you have the freedom to control costs and optimise operations to cope with the hotel’s work flows and processes. You also have 100 per cent control over availability and do not have to wait for deliveries.

Will a towel laundry really save you money though?

A typical outsourced laundry cost for a bath sheet is around 36p, a hand towel 17p and a bath mat around 21p. For an on-premise laundry it should be possible to make considerable savings with a bath sheet at around 25p, a hand towel 9p and a bath mat 10p. The exact costs will depend on the scale of your operation, but in our experience a hotel can easily expect to achieve an overall 25 to 45 per cent saving on its laundry costs, sometimes even more. These calculations take into account the capital cost of laundry equipment, utility costs such as water, electricity and gas, and additional labour to operate the laundry.

Return on investment for the capital cost of the new laundry equipment is typically achieved within as little as twelve to eighteen months, so the maths is compelling.

When considering shifting a hotel’s laundry from outsourced supply to an in-house operation a towel laundry is a logical first step. It is relatively easy to do and the amount of labour required to operate a towel laundry is small. Towel laundering is also an unskilled task, which can be undertaken with minimal training by any multi-skilled staff. A towel laundry as we define it, is suitable for processing all types of towels and towelling products including bath mats, robes and face cloths.

Many hotels operate on-premise laundries which successfully process all their linen including bedding and table linen, staff uniforms and guest items. If you have operational capacity, there is no reason why the same washers and dryers required for a towel laundry cannot also be used to process these items too. However, processing bed and table linen does require ironing, which means investing in one or more high-quality ironers. These machines can be highly automated, but they do still require experienced and skilled operators and more space for the laundry itself. In time, you may wish to extend the scope of a towel laundry’s operation in this way, but many are happy to continue to outsource these more specialist items. 

Hilton Hotel case study

A key objective of the new laundry at the Hilton London Kensington was to enable the hotel to add the processing of a daily average of 1,200 kg of towels. Girbau visited the hotel to undertake a comprehensive study of its existing laundry. From this, they recommended the mix of machines required to maximise operational efficiency and flexibility as well as advising on the required staffing levels for operating the expanded laundry.

The new laundry features two 57 kg-capacity Girbau HS-6057 washers, one HS-6023 washer and one HS-6017 machine. For drying it has two Pro Series II GU170, 77kg capacity dryers, one ED460 23kg capacity EcoDryer and one ED340 17kg capacity EcoDryer, all gas-fired. As well as increasing capacity, the new equipment is expected to be more efficient in the use of energy, water and chemicals. With a mix of smaller and larger machines, the hotel has the flexibility to process a wide range of items in varying quantities as well as the ability to launder guests’ items.