Service: In-House Vs Outsourcing
of the most neglected aspects about good housekeeping is that it
requires the support of a good laundry. More often than not, hotels
spend large amounts of money on linen (for rooms as well as bathrooms)
since that makes a statement about the quality of accommodation
offered by the hotel. What goes largely ignored, however, is that
to maintain this quality one needs an efficient and good quality
of linen processing
by an on-premise laundry.
large hotels and especially the ones in the five-star category have
in-house laundries to maintain high standards of quality and cleanliness.
On the other hand, most small and medium-sized hotels do not have
in-house laundries, as they cannot afford to have one, in terms
of the cost of equipment and space required to house the laundry.
No matter how good the outside laundry may be, all housekeepers
dream of having their own in-house laundries for many reasons, of
which, a few are listed below.
is virtually no check on the quality of washing done by an external
agency since there is no direct supervision by the hotel. Housekeepers
complain that on many occasions the linen is returned without adopting
the entire cleaning process since most of the time linen out of
a hotel room is visually clean and is returned after rinsing and
ironing. This creates a serious problem in terms of hygiene and
having an in-house laundry, the storage space in the linen room
will be reduced as would be the overall requirement for the linen
inventory which would come down by nearly 30-40 per cent, thereby
contributing to the cost of the laundry. This would also apply to
other items like towels, table linen and uniforms.
is also never sure what type of treatment is given to the clothes
by the outside laundries, as they tend to use stronger chemicals,
acids, alkaline and bleach in-order to increase their production.
These chemicals in turn weaken the fabrics and the quantity of discard
an in-house laundry, one is able to choose the right chemicals to
ensure higher production and also longer life of linen and uniforms.
With external laundries, it is at times difficult to get the kind
of output required by hotel operations like in case of back to back
check-in of a conference or a large group.
most commercial laundries cater to many establishments, the chances
of the linen getting mixed up is most common. And even if the hotel
manages to get the same quality of linen back, there are always
chances that it may be much more used than the piece sent.
any housekeeper and s/he will tell you that it is practically impossible
to supervise all the above mentioned aspects in case of an external
laundry. One must also not expect external laundries to be cost
effective since in many cases, they charge the hotel on per piece
basis instead of a lump sum contract value.
a period of time one invariably finds linen of different sizes,
shades and quality being stacked up in the hotels stock
which can upset any quality-conscious establishment. And to add
to the perils of the management, it finds laundry cost to be out
of its control and supervision.
times a hotel has to depend on an external laundry to meet its demand
and in such cases there are several independent commercial laundries
which can be used to clean the hotel linen, however, it is necessary
to periodically visit the laundry to check on the process, chemicals
and detergents being used and the quality of finish and folding.
It is also important to check the source and quality of water to
ensure that it is soft and will not discolour or damage the linen.
is a fallacy to think that an in-house laundry is an expensive investment.
In fact it can be modest if you keep the design and requirements
simple. For instance, to process the room linen, one only requires
a washer-cum-extractor and one flat-work ironing machine. If you
also want to process bathroom linen, then you have to add a drying
tumbler. A few hand ironing boards can be added to press the uniforms
and the guest laundry.
a rule, one requires a washer-cum-extractor of 100 lbs capacity
to wash the room and bathroom linen of a 100-room four-star hotel
in six days of eight-hour shifts, which does a double occupancy
of 20 per cent. The flat-work iron required for processing bed linen
and pillows can be a single
roll machine, electrically heated, with a 15 dia roll of 110 length
to process double sheets.
single sheets are to be processed then the cost can reduce as the
length of the roller will reduce. If the hotel does not have sufficient
power for the iron then a small steam boiler will suffice. This
boiler should be sized to handle the requirement of a drying tumbler
to process the towels. A 50 lbs capacity drying tumbler, which can
steam- heat, will be required to dry the bath towels.
equipment and a baby steam boiler do not require much space as they
can be installed in a room of approximately 400 sq ft comfortably.
If this spaces is increased to 600 sq ft and two hand ironing boards
with one steam heated buck press are added, one can process the
uniforms and the guest laundry in the hotel.
washing of guest laundry, one can buy a domestic type washer/extractor
as it is ideal for washing smaller loads of 7-10 lbs. The income
from the guest valet, laundry and ironing can offset the cost of
washing the in-house linen. In most of the large hotels, the in-house
laundry is free of cost and the laundry department is a self-sufficient
profit making centre.
then more hotels do not go in for in-house laundries? Since people
tend to make the subject more complicated and more expensive than
it needs to be for a small 100-room hotel. Most of the laundry equipment
required by a small hotel is being made in India and its cost would
be in the range of approximately Rs 9-10 lakh or Rs 12 lakh including
the uniform and guest laundry.
purchasing or sourcing equipment, one should keep these in mind
and try to meet people who have used the machines in-order to get
first hand information.
quality of the processed line, uniforms and guest laundry, check
from other users. How compact or bulky is the equipment, as the
extent of space required will depend on this. For example, one should
go in for a washer/extractor combination, rather than purchasing
two separate machines ie, washing machine and a hydro extractor
at cheaper prices.
is the efficiency and the actual production of the machine when
compared to the rated capacity? This is important since the actual
capacity is what it actually produces and not what it is rate for.
What is the consumption of various utilities such as steam, electricity,
hot and cold water as there are machines available which save more
energy than others. What is the servicing and maintenance requirement
and breakdown frequency? How expensive are spares? Whether the machine
is automated or not as the staff requirement will depend on this.
What extent of training needs to be imparted to staff to make best
utilisation of the featured offered by the equipment.
these questions are addressed while setting up a on-premise laundry,
one will find it has not only resulted in enhanced standards of
accommodation, but has also brought the cost down.
who want to import under the EPCG scheme, can import a variety of
equipment from Europe or the US at comparable cost than what is
available locally. The imported equipment is certainly much more
compact, efficient and energy saving than its local counterpart
author is director of Consolidated Equipment Pvt Ltd)