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Bright energy saving future for Professional Linen Services

We provided detailed analysis on potential resource efficiency investments for Edinburgh-based, Professional Linen Services, so they can hit the right buttons for making future savings.

  • Potential overall savings of £80,000 identified
  • High investment, high reward continuous batch washer found to save between £42,000-£65,000 annually
  • New steam boiler with energy saving features improves energy efficiency by 7%

You can’t provide good clean linen without using energy and water. Doing this on a large scale requires specialist machinery and a keen eye on resource use. It’s just one of many business types that we can help be more efficient. When Edinburgh-based Professional Linen Services got in touch, we helped it identify a number of measures that would save up to £80,000 annually.

This family-owned business provides linen hire and laundry services to companies around Scotland and the North of England. These include hotels, restaurants, guest houses and universities. The company’s founder, Alan Hogg, started the business in his garage in Edinburgh in 1995. Since then, it has grown to operate two industrial units on the outskirts of the city. It employs up to 80 people.

The company processes around 10 million items of linen each year. One of the industrial units runs a continuous batch washer and four smaller washer-extractors. The other unit contains the finishing section – the laundry presses. Steam-generating boilers supply a significant proportion of the process heat used at the two sites. The company asked us to identify opportunities to improve efficiencies, reduce resource use and bring down costs.

Professional Linen Services was planning to expand and construct a new building linking its two existing industrial units. Our advisor visited the site and saw the potential for installing a single new steam boiler to serve both units. This would be housed in the new building, and improve efficiency by seven per cent, save £11,000 annually on gas costs and cut carbon emissions by 80 tonnes.

The new steam boiler would have a number of energy saving features:

  • an integrated flue gas economiser that recovers heat energy otherwise lost to the atmosphere. This heat can then be used to heat water before it goes into the boiler, reducing overall energy consumption by five per cent;
  • a combined condensate recovery system that avoids the build up of excessive condensate (currently vented to the atmosphere). This would save the company £1600 a year in energy and water costs;
  • oxygen trim controls to ensure the correct fuel and air mix is available for combustion. These can reduce energy consumption by up to 4%;
  • and variable speed drives that optimise electricity use by matching the speed of pumps and fans to changing process requirements.

At around £70,000, the upfront investment cost of this new steam boiler is high with a payback period of 6.4 years. Meanwhile, installing adequate insulation to parts of the steam system – such as the tanks, pipework, flanges and valves – would achieve a saving of £1,700 per year. A modest spend of £750 on insulation could reduce heat loss by 90 per cent and be paid back within just five months.

Better batch washing

Professional Linen Services also wanted to assess the viability of installing a new, more efficient continuous batch washer. It didn’t want to rely on the existing washer-extractors to deal with the increased workload of an expanding business.

Our specialist carried out a 20-year cash flow analysis to predict the energy, water and other savings that could be achieved with a better continuous batch washer. The cost for such a system is a hefty £550,000 but it can reduce water and gas costs significantly – in this case by between £42,000 and £65,500 a year. This would reduce annual CO2 emissions by over 200 tonnes. Assuming the business expanded as predicted, the payback period would be between 9 and 14 years.

During our site visit, we also noted that the company’s gas-fired driers use around 21 per cent more energy than modern energy efficient driers. We recommended investing in new driers, or installing heat recovery systems on the existing driers to improve energy efficiency and reduce costs. We also suggested that solar thermal panels on the roof of one of the units could produce renewable heat energy to preheat the wash water.

This comprehensive list of suggestions would require a lot of money. We pointed Professional Linen Services to the UK Government’s Enhanced Capital Allowance Scheme, which provides businesses with enhanced tax relief for investments in equipment that meets published energy saving criteria.

“The service provided us with detailed facts and figures that will help us decide the future direction of our company as far as resource efficiency is concerned,” says Peter Semple, Managing Director of Professional Linen Services.

Help for your business

Business Energy Scotland is funded by the Scottish Government to provide free, impartial support and access to funding to help small and medium-sized enterprises save energy, carbon and money

Whether you are just starting out on your energy-saving journey and need some pointers or are looking for expertise and funding to support your current plans, our team of experienced business advisors and energy-saving consultants are here to help. Get in touch today.

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