Sustainability

Valley City invests in energy saving washer

August 27, 2012
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Commercial launderer Valley City Linen, located at Eastern Avenue and Fulton Street, recently purchased a high-volume washer projected to save the Grand Rapids-based business more than 7,742,000 gallons of water and 76,000 therms per year.

The Continuous Batch PulseFlow tunnel washer cost Valley City $700,000, but the investment was deemed worthwhile because it is expected to reduce its carbon footprint, generate cost savings and improve its laundry service and linen quality, said Jeff Jeltema, who co-owns the firm at 10 Diamond Ave. SE with his two brothers.

The washer’s enhanced pumping system is capable of processing 4,000 pounds of laundry per hour using only 0.3 gallons of fresh water per pound, compared to conventional commercial washers that require 3 to 4 gallons per pound.

In addition to saving an expected average of 8 million gallons of water annually, the continuous batch washer is likely to save the company $275,000-plus in direct operating costs, including fuel, electricity and cleaning supplies, said Jeltema.

“We had a continuous batch washer before that we purchased in about 1996, but the new one came out with the new PulseFlow technology tunnel that uses half the water,” said Jeltema. “It was time and it made so much sense to do it. Environmentally, we’re better off.”

Valley City Linen rents table linens, towels, bed linens, mats, medical garments, nursing scrubs and uniforms for use in the restaurant, health care and hospitality industries. It has distribution centers in Grand Rapids, Oak Park/Detroit and Traverse City. It services 3,000-plus clients in the eastern, western and northern regions of Michigan, and on average, launders 18.2 million pounds of laundry per year — which equates to 350,000 pounds per week and more than 58,300 pounds per day.

The company purchased the new washer from Pellerin Milnor Co. in New Orleans. It considered buying from German manufacturer Kannegiesser, but opted for Milnor instead.

“(Kannegiesser’s) technology is not as good as Milnor’s PulseFlow, and it’s kind of nice to buy something in America, too,” said Jeltema.

Besides the new washer, Valley City also uses six 450-pound brim washer extractors.

“The tunnel does a little more than half of our work, and the rest are more conventional washers,” said Jeltema.

“The tunnel does a good job of doing a lot of things. For example, a lot of white aprons and napkins go through the tunnel, but things like uniforms go through conventional washers. It’s like the size of a singlewide mobile home, and on one side is an automated rail system that feeds it into a tunnel as needed, and it goes through the tunnel like a giant auger laying on its side and spits it out on the other end, and it goes on a conveyer and feeds it into the dryers. Depending on what it’s laundering, it can do 150 pounds every minute.”

Valley City Linen was founded by Paul Jeltema Sr. in 1935 and is still family owned and operated.

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