University of Wisconsin-Madison Looks to Wascomat for Laundry Room Retool

One might be inclined to think the demands facing an athletic department laundry room at a university aren’t that great. However, such an assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s a lot more than homogenous loads of towels, towels, and more towels.

Terry Schlatter, director of equipment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will tell you the challenges placed on his laundry rooms were tremendous. So much in fact, that he turned to Wascomat and Mark Litsky at Integrated Sports Specialties (ISS) to help the department undertake a massive laundry re-tool.

“Our goal was to centralize our laundry operations into one location and share it with football and our Olympic sports,” Schlatter said of the two-year remodeling project.

Litsky said the key to success in this undertaking was being involved in the planning right from the start. “We were lucky enough to be involved from step one…that way we were able to craft the best overall plan,” said Litsky, who has extensive experience as an architectural engineer, in addition to decades in the laundry business.

Equipment operating in the laundry was dated, inefficient, and experiencing far too frequent breakdowns. The capacities of the machines were also too high and were rarely fully loaded. Combining operations within Dave McClain Athletic Facility would require a lot of planning in order to choose the right equipment necessary to overcome the challenges and increase production.

“They were hardly using the full capacity of the 125-pound washers,” Litsky said, adding that such underloading conditions can mean additional wear-and-tear on major components of the machines.

Reliability and efficiency, however, were only part of the focus for new equipment. Machines also would need to be able to handle a variety of load types, and deliver wash and finish-quality that matched the high expectations of the Wisconsin Badgers.

“We see a variety of items, from team uniforms and daily practice t-shirts and shorts, to socks,” Schlatter said. Combining operations brought additional items such as custodial rags, and food and beverage tablecloths. “Laundering everything from technical athletic gear to table linens is a tremendous challenge. This isn’t a case of just filling the cylinder and hitting start. Our operation required a high degree of programmability to ensure quality results. Wascomat definitely delivered on all fronts.”

Litsky recommended six Wascomat EXSM665 65-lb capacity hardmount washers and eight Wascomat TD83 83-lb capacity dryers. These capacities would ensure full loads were always running to maximize efficiency, while an extract speed of 300 G-Force would significantly reduce dry times, save energy, and increase productivity. The laundry gained additional efficiency by replacing the steam-heated dryers with gas units. But this was more than a simple removal of the old equipment and install of new machines. Schlatter was impressed by the commitment of Litsky and ISS staff to fine-tune all the wash and dry cycles.

“ISS was excellent in installing and programming our new Wascomat equipment,” Schlatter said. The Wascomat washers came equipped with the fully-programmable Clarus Control® which offers room for up to 192 custom wash cycles.

That extra effort appears to have paid dividends in not just finished results, but the overall efficiency of the operations.

“The wash results for our practice and competition apparel has been outstanding,” Schlatter said, adding that, “By combining our equipment we were able to cut down on evening and weekend staff hours.” The root of those reductions in staff hours is centered on the speed and efficiency of the Wascomat equipment.

“With Wascomat washers and dryers in the operation, we dramatically shortened cycle times while improving results,” Litsky said. Fast cycle times and high extract speeds on the wash side help set up for the big finish.

“These Wascomat units dry amazingly fast,” said Litsky, whose company designs and installs laundry rooms at some of the country’s top universities.

Even with ISS’s extensive list of impressive installs, Litsky counts the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a highpoint. “We use our University of Wisconsin-Madison laundry room design and installation as an example for other schools,” he said.