For a facility manager faced with increasing volumes of laundry, innovative technology and equipment – like dispensing systems – offer the best solution to keep up with demand. Advances in sensors, computing power and connectivity are making dispensers smarter and delivering additional benefits to laundry facilities. No matter the size of a laundry, tools are now available to improve textile care, enhance safety and reduce the environmental impact.
A key requirement of successful laundry management is to understand what advanced equipment is already available and to stay informed on any developing capabilities. There is a diverse range of compact and cost-effective systems to investigate. The best laundry dispensing systems feature technology to simplify the installation process, reduce maintenance and enhance cleaning results.
These include low voltage machine interfaces, pre-wired systems and Auto Formula Select. Recent developments also allow certain systems to provide accurate chemical and water measurements to optimise cleaning results, reduce rewash rates and improve productivity.
The Internet of Things (IoT) – a network of connected devices delivering data in real-time – is forging new paths for many industries and chemical dispensing systems in laundry facilities are no exception. The IoT provides remote monitoring and control capabilities, making it possible to keep tabs on chemical dispensing, even when you aren’t on site.
Smart dispensers ensure there is always adequate water supply and that chemical doses are delivered precisely, 100 per cent of the time. Safety checks can be employed to protect equipment, employees and an entire plant. For example, if a leak arises, you will receive an alert from the dispenser and can take immediate action. Promptly stopping the leak reduces the risks of damage or needless downtime. Such dispensers also increasingly use sensors to check and monitor information such as the temperature of a load or the flow of chemistry, further consolidating integration with the washer.
Laundries typically rely on employees or their chemical provider to make chemical, water or machine adjustments, but this time-consuming responsibility can now be controlled by dispensers. The IoT tracks production processes and handles automated adjustments to dispense chemical based on feedback from an accurate flow meter. This improves cleaning while reducing costs and waste caused by rewashing.
Data from sensors provides unique insight into the laundry process. The opportunities to take a closer look at key performance indicators like chemical usage by formula, volume of washes and average projection rate are better than ever before. This valuable information allows facilities to identify errors, reduce their reoccurrence and improve productivity.
Connected dispensers already focus on remote monitoring, reducing downtime and delivering important data on chemical consumption, but this is only the start. There is a competitive advantage to be gained from knowing what to expect and what to look for in new dispensing equipment. Chemical dispensing manufacturers are bringing the future closer, including:
- Automated inventory management. Taking inventory is a task with few volunteers. Consequently, this often results in ordering too much or too little product. With dispensers taking on this job, laundries could improve the accuracy of their inventory management. By integrating chemical usage data into enterprise (ERP), laundry management systems or customer relationship management (CRM) software packages, dispensers could detect when a certain amount of chemical usage is below a designated threshold and automatically trigger an order for more chemical.
- Predictive maintenance. When a dispenser or washer requires maintenance, it’s not always obvious. Unplanned maintenance can result in downtime and costly replacements. However, dispensers may one day be able to provide predictive maintenance on downstream equipment by analysing data and recommending repairs and upkeep before problems arise.
- Load by load data. Advanced dispensers may be able to log data for every wash for compliance purposes and to provide proof of sanitation. Having access to this data, from the weight to the temperature or pH of each load, will help laundries better manage operations and stay organised.
- Data analysis. With more data comes more responsibility, and quantities of information which many laundry managers may find intimidating. The likelihood is that chemical dispensing manufacturers will expand their services to include assistance in analysing and interpreting this raw data. They might also provide consulting and educational programs to help managers and employees react appropriately when an alarm goes off, and instruct them how to analyse and organise data on their own.
Smart dispensers are currently transforming the wash process. Technological advances ensure there is much more to look forward to. The future promises a laundry process that is even simpler, safer and more sustainable. However, in an industry characterised by tight margins, those facilities that are slow to adapt and adopt are unlikely to see it.