Every industry needs to evolve to stay relevant and meet the market demand. Innovation drives industries forward, and commercial laundry is no exception. There are trends happening now and predicted for the future that will revolutionize both the way commercial launderers do laundry and the way they do business.
Here’s a look at what you can expect.
Commercial Laundry Equipment Trends
Members of the Board for Washing Excellence have created a whitepaper of what you can expect through 2030 looking at four categories in the laundry cleaning process:
- Mechanical action
- Chemical action
- Temperature effect
- Time savings
Let’s take a look.
Mechanical Action: Smart Laundry Technology
Professional laundry operations, whether outsourced or done on location, can be incredibly hectic. The Internet of Things (or IoT), simplifies the process.
In the near future, our clothes and linens will have tags that not only contain what type of fabric they’re made of but will also include where and how the garment is worn and/or used. For instance, after you wear an athletic performance shirt to a soccer game, your machine will be able to detect the type of fabric and the fact that it was soiled with sweat and dirt and wash it accordingly.
When the laundry is done, the user of the machine will be able to input whether it was cleaned to their satisfaction or if alterations need to be made for the next wash—adjusting the cleaning criteria for a better laundry experience.
Smart technology cuts through the chaos, providing unparalleled organization and tracking methods. Some companies are already using a tagging process that connects to the cloud and keeps track of the status of each item as it’s being washed.
Others use smart technology to measure resources, electricity, and chemicals. Smart technology also provides data reports and analysis, making it easier to target and eliminate causes of inefficiency. Hydrofinity's XConnect cloud-based system tracks laundry cycle data—including water consumption and a range of other factors—making it easy to determine your return on investment.
Smart technology is also impacting machine design itself. Soon enough, the old knob and dial combo we’re used to seeing on machines will fade away, replaced entirely by screens. This choice isn’t entirely about aesthetics. With screens, washing options won’t be limited by the physical space on the dial. With limitless "space" within the screen, more programs can be made available, and each load can be more customizable than ever before.
Chemical Action: A Different Approach to Detergent
Resources cost money—this isn’t a new phenomenon. The laundry industry is finding new ways to reduce the number of resources needed per load of laundry, specifically those that can be detrimental to both the linens and the environment, like the chemicals in detergent.
The concept of the detergent pod has exploded (not literally, we hope) in recent years. Detergent pods are pre-measured and are compatible with every machine. Instead of dealing with powder or liquid detergent, you can now just pop a pod into the load and have peace of mind that your machine won’t overflow and your laundry will be thoroughly cleaned.
Nearly waterless machines, like Hydrofinity’s commercial laundry systems, also change the detergent game, by changing the amount of water and detergent needed in each cycle. Hydrofinity machines add XOrbs to lessen the amount and temperature of water needed and therefore also lessen the amount of detergent.
Temperature Effect: Reducing the Use of Resources
On a similar note, consumers are flocking toward more eco-friendly products and services. Sustainable, or "green," practices are highly sought after, and this trend will only pick up in the coming years.
Laundry requires water and energy—two resources that are dwindling. With the introduction of green certificates, the laundry industry is tightening up the exploitation of these resources. For example, the EPA’s WaterSense label ensures that the product or service uses at least 20% less water than the average prototype. And, it’s been proven using hot water does not equate to cleaner clothes. In fact, according to Energy Star, "water heating consumes about 90% of the energy it takes to operate a clothes washer. Unless you’re dealing with oily stains, washing in cold water will generally do a good job of cleaning. Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut energy use in half. Using the cold cycle reduces energy use even more."
Individual companies are also striving for sustainability. From hotels to commercial laundries to dry cleaners, the trend toward more environmentally-friendly practices in professional laundry is saving companies water, energy, and money.
In the U.S., the California drought has been a cautionary tale for commercial launderers and others in the hospitality field. Mandatory water reductions have put real stress on local businesses over the last few years. Savvy business owners adapted to the situation by implementing long-term water-saving technologies, and in doing so set an example for the rest of the industry.
The reality is that doing the bare minimum to save water and energy isn't enough anymore, and commercial laundry services are now seeking strategic, long-term solutions—and that's a very good change.
Time Savings: Technology + Efficiency = Time Savings
In any business, time is money. With the introduction of smart laundry technology mentioned above, washing machines and dryers will be fine-tuned to run only for the amount of time necessary to wash and dry each load. This means the machines won’t "overrun," which will inevitably save time. In addition, because the machines are running more efficiently, the amount of wear and tear on the machines should be reduced resulting in fewer repairs and "down" time. Having all of your machines running at full capacity is definitely a time saver.
Lastly, since the machines are more efficient in the way they clean laundry, the need for launderers to rewash garments will be reduced, which will also save time. Like we said, time is money, and all of these time savings will add up to you having more money to grow your business.
Speaking of business, other trends that are going to change the laundry game are going to be changes to the way commercial launderers operate their businesses. Keep reading to find out what these trends are.
Commercial Laundry Business Trends
Increase Focus on the Customer Experience
How do commercial laundry services stay competitive in today's market? By focusing on the details and offering a superior customer experience, from start to finish. Today's consumers have an incredible field of options when it comes to purchasing laundry services, and the industry has noticed.
Whether through increased options, business updates centered around convenience—pick up, delivery, extended hours, etc.—or use of a gentler wash and fewer harsh chemicals to improve the quality of their wash, more and more commercial launderers are distinguishing themselves by working to provide that extra level of service to customers. That's the kind of competition that drives the entire industry to improve.
Provide Better Business Intelligence
One of the greatest things about recent updates in laundry technology is that nearly everything can be measured. Quantifying water and energy usage in laundry used to be nearly impossible, but now we have washing machines with software that can measure water as well as electricity and chemical data for your entire laundry operation.
With that kind of business intelligence, it's much easier to calculate expenses, find potential savings, and build a better laundry operation.
We’ve already touched upon green initiatives that are taking place and will continue in the future to improve the way we do laundry, but If you've been looking for a way to bring in new customers, or impress your current customer base, "green" cleaning methods are the way to go.
What was once considered an expensive and difficult change for the laundry industry is now a much more common occurrence and something that potential customers actively search for. So give them what they want, and you'll be sure to see the benefits.
Track and Limit Utility Usage
Recent advancements in technology have given commercial laundry businesses something they've never had before: the ability to actually track and analyze utility usage and other key metrics of their laundry operations.
By utilizing the available software solutions, and taking a more active approach to utility usage, your laundry business can measure the impact that usage is having on your expenses and make changes.
Upgrade Your Equipment
By making the choice to switch out your commercial laundry equipment for a low-water wash system like Hydrofinity, you can save water, energy, and limit chemical costs all at the same time.
The Future Looks Bright (And So Will Your Laundry)
As you can see, there are a lot of promising things happening when it comes to the future of laundry and if laundry is your future, you should pay attention. You may not be able to adopt all of these foreseeable trends, but whatever you can implement as things unfold (pun intended), the more successful (and cleaner) your commercial laundry operation will be.