Entrepreneurs fine tune a laundry

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Eric Ouellette and Stany Bergeron had never been in the laundry business until 2006. Both had reached the top in their respective careers in Toronto, and were looking for a new business challenge that would allow them to return to Quebec with their two young sons. After a search that started on the internet and ended with personal visits, they decided to make an offer for Les Buanderies Dextraze, a laundry plant that processed hotel and long-term care work in Granby, Que. 

Following the purchase, the former owner remained in the plant for several months to introduce them to all aspects of the laundry, with a major focus on production. Neither had ever been involved in the laundry business, but felt their insights as outsiders might be a valuable asset. And this has proved to be true.

In order to gain more perspective and knowledge, the couple visited several plants in the U.S. and Canada, through contacts made at the Clean Show and on recommendations from suppliers. As their knowledge grew, it was evident to them that there were some major production bottlenecks in their own plant.



But first a word about the unique workflow in this plant. There are two tunnel washers, which have been modified over the years from the original Poensgen, being rebuilt for better reliability and efficiency. One tunnel is located in the section of the plant that handles towels, and the other is in another section of the plant and processes only linens. If one tunnel is out of service, the other one can process either type of work. A track system built inhouse can shuttle slings to either washer. One of the first decisions made by the new owners was to gradually give up the longterm care accounts in order to concentrate on hotel linens. They felt that focusing exclusively on the high-end hotel market would simplify future decisions about workflow and new equipment. Then they were ready to solve production problems.  


The first bottleneck in production was in the time lag between the towels being processed in the tunnel washer and their move to dryers, because the extractor on the washer was too old. Too much moisture was retained in the towels, which increased drying time. Work backed up at the washer, which could not unload. Checking their list of recommended suppliers, the couple called in Martin Poisson of Greentex Systems. Following his suggestions, and the introduction of Lionel Greenberg, president of Greentex, as well as Carlos Fernandes, North American vice-president of finishing systems for Jensen, the couple decided to install a Jensen/Senking membrane extraction unit . This would take the place of the former two-stage press, which was causing a backup that stretched from two to four hours a day. The new extraction unit moved the work along briskly by reducing drying time, and at the same time reducing the amount of energy required to dry the towels.

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