Tunnel washers are truly marvels of modern ingenuity and engineering. These computerized industrial laundry machines are designed to process large volumes of similar linens (type and soil loading) on a continuous basis with a limited amount of labor and a reduced amount of water. As the name implies, the device consists of a long metal tube called a tunnel. A huge metal spiral called an Archimedes Screw runs down the center of the tunnel, dividing it into sections called “pockets”. Linen is loaded into one end of the tunnel and water enters from the other. The screw is made to be porous and the tunnel is inclined to allow the water to move down the tunnel. The proper chemicals are added along the way. Linen is forced in one direction and water is forced in the opposite direction allowing the linen to move to progressively cleaner water and fresher chemicals. The screw partially rotates and reverses to provide agitation for the linens in each pocket. After an allotted amount of time has passed, the screw makes one complete rotation and the linens all move forward to the next pocket. Linen is forced from one end of the tunnel to the other. Soiled linen continuously goes into one end of the tunnel while clean linen moves continuously out of the other.
Since their introduction in the late 1960s, tunnel washers have become progressively more reliable. Though extremely expensive, they are now common in major hotel, hospital, cruise ship and other high-volume laundry applications.
One of the machine’s major drawbacks is the necessity of using the same wash formula on every item. Modern tunnel washers have integrated microprocessor controls that can monitor and adjust the chemical levels in individual pockets, reducing the severity of this disadvantage.
Many times a laundry can actually have more success with the right mix of conventional washers and dryers as opposed to having a tunnel washer. Because of the one-formula limitation, required homogeneous product, space requirements and most of all price, a tunnel washer will limit your flexibility in the wash room.
- If you spend the majority of your budget on a tunnel, you will sacrifice the advantages of having more automated and more expensive ironers, folders, conveyors, scales, dryers and other workflow automation components. The right equipment will make a world of difference to your bottom line. You could get a complete Water Energy Green Laundry System for about the same price as a tunnel would cost for the same sized operation. This Green Laundry System will include Green Water Reuse and all essential components required to build a modern, successful and sustainable laundry. These components will include high-speed extract washers with an ozone laundry and water reuse system, high-efficiency and high Btu/hour dryers, boiler and hot water system, wide large-diameter ironers with feeders and folders, towel folders, take-away conveyors, cart dumpers and cart washers, scales, stackers, wrapping/banding equipment, laundry carts, folding tables, soak sink, laundry bags and a robust tracking system with capabilities that allow you to offer another value added service – pre-staging services for your clients. Our system stores customer instructions that in conjunction with bar code tracking allow you to pre-sort the customer’s linens and load their carts just like they want them. That saves them labor and makes your services even more attractive and valuable. You also get our experience and expertise to build and operate a laundry like this. So we just can’t see the need for a tunnel in the majority of laundries because you can get a lot more bang for your buck with a complete Water Energy Green Laundry System.
- If you install a tunnel, you might lose more of your floor space than you need to. If you don’t have enough space to efficiently perform all of the functions required in a laundry, your production volume will suffer and you will lose money on labor every single day.
- If you process linens from multiple customers with a variety of linen and soil types, you will never be able to achieve the efficiency of a bank of traditional washers with a tunnel.
- A Water Energy Green Laundry System will deliver greater water savings with traditional washers than you could ever expect to receive with a tunnel. Our Green Laundry Systems use ozone and cold water and a water reuse system to deliver 50% savings or more on net water use.