When Emerald Textiles, opened their doors to customers in September of 2010, it was clear the company was unlike any commercial healthcare laundry facility in the U.S. today. San Diego entrepreneurs Tom Gildred and Bob Payne decided to create their own hospital laundry in Emerald Textiles, employing the most advanced technology available and the highest standards in cleanliness.
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“My partner and I wanted to have a technologically advanced facility that was environmentally friendly,” says Gildred, founder and chief executive officer of Emerald Textiles. “We are proud to have met that goal by opening a commercial laundry that utilizes today’s advanced technology, boasts energy and water efficiencies and produces the highest quality goods.
Gildred and his partner raise the bar for cleanliness by maintaining a 100 percent separation between the TODAY’S NEWS FOR CHANGING TIMES soil and clean side of the laundry. Gildred stresses, “There are only five opportunities for goods to go from the soiled to clean side – the only way to access the clean side from the soil side is through one of our five washers.”
Separation is ensured by a wall separating the two areas and an advanced positive air flow system. Adding to the assured cleanliness of the laundry, the Emerald Textile continuous batch washers supplied by Pellerin Milnor run a full 24 minutes at 160 degrees. Chemicals are supplied by Norchem Chemical Company. “Our continuous batch washers have the highest pressure press available in the industry that extracts water from the laundry at the end of the wash process. Because of this press and the efficiency of our dryers, we will save tremendous amounts of natural gas when the goods are transferred to the Milnor 250 lb dryers,” says Gildred. The Milnor CBW’s have a 250 lb. capacity and use state of the art Pulse Flow Technology. Milnor 50 bar single stage presses are also used.
Emerald Textiles has even developed a proprietary “linen shield” that protects linens from coming in contact with the floor during the ironing and feeding process, adds Gildred.
At full capacity the new $20 million facility is expected to save an estimated 30 to 40 million gallons of water annually. “Our new pulsed-flow technology is going to drastically reduce our water consumption from 1.5 gallons per pound of laundry to less than .5 gallons per pound,” says Gildred. Those numbers have caught the attention of the area’s Mayor.
￼“Right out of the gate, Emerald Textiles has shown its commitment to being a good corporate citizen through investing in water-saving technology at its new facility,” said Mayor Jerry Sanders. “I’m excited to welcome Emerald Textiles – and the hundreds of jobs they’ll provide to San Diegans – to our local business community.”
Housed in an 111,000 square-foot industrial laundry facility, the San Diego facility exceeds Title 22 compliance standards, which helps hospitals attain accreditation from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO).
Approximately 150 team members are handling the current workload and it is expected that there will be an additional 100 team members added to help handle the load when the laundry’s capacity of 800,000 pounds a week is reached. Looking ahead, Gildred and his partner built the laundry with the ability to increase capacity by 50 percent within their existing footprint.
One way Gildred and his partner Payne maintain a laundry that is efficient and ergonomically safe for their team members is to use gravity efficiently via the latest E-Tech rail system. “We have 30 foot ceilings that allow for a full overhead rail system to transport linen throughout the facility,” says Gildred. “The laundry is lifted up between processes. The benefit of that is that we’re using gravity and the weight of the actual laundry to drive it through our processes. It is one of the areas by which we create energy efficiency. Not only is it a great energy and space saver, but it improves employee safety and morale.”
The specific gravity-enabled design and limitation on manual processes through automation prevents unnecessary strain and risks incurred for team members who process the goods.
Emerald Textiles added the best of today’s technology to the mix with a fully computerized touch screen system. The computerized system controls the movement of laundry through the plant, all the way through to the finishing department that boasts Chicago Dryer Century steam heated 3-roll ironers, Chicago Dryer Edge Max Feeders Chicago Dryer Skyline large piece folders with autostackers, Chicago Dryer Air X-press small piece folders and Chicago Dryer Blanket Blasters.
Energy savings are captured in numerous areas throughout the facility. Emerald Textiles has a Thermal Engineering Plate and Frame Heat Exchanger which draws heat from the waste water and transfers it to incoming water for pre-heating, saving natural gas. Another energy saving device in the facility are stack economizers installed on all three of their new high efficiency Parker boilers. These stack economizers draw water from the hot and tempered water tanks and circulate it above each boiler to use the hot flu gas that is being discharged out of the stacks continuing to heat and maintain temperature in the water storage tanks.
Energy savings extend throughout the plant explains Gildred, “We have the most energy efficient lighting available, and all offices and restrooms include motion sensor lighting resulting in further energy savings.” Of all the considerations that the new facility boasts, Gildred points out one – that could be considered most important to the younger generation. “We have 34 sorting stations. That will help us find items that are lost from patients. The larger the soil sort, the better the chance to return those items to their owners.” “Now it doesn’t sound like much,” he adds. “But to be able to return a teddy bear to a child in the hospital is really important for that child, the hospital – and us. That’s what we’re aiming for, a higher level of customer service and satisfaction.”