Technology continues to change nearly every aspect of being a student, and the routine task of using on-campus laundry rooms is no exception. New machines have been engineered to make doing laundry more pleasant and less time-consuming for both students and facility managers. Here are three benefits of bringing the latest laundry technologies to campus – and one reason to not overdo it.
Improving Student Satisfaction
For students at Marquette University, doing laundry is more convenient and less of a chore. By quickly checking a website or tuning into their university cable channel, students can see if machines are available and check remaining cycle times without having to make a trip to the laundry room. This specially-designed alert system can even send e-mails and text notifications to students when a machine becomes available or a cycle is complete. It applies to every machine throughout the campus.
“As a busy student, laundry is the last thing you want to have to deal with,” said Sarah Hoffmann, a freshman who lives on campus in Abbottsford Hall. “Being able to see what machines are available from my phone, and then getting text messages when it’s time to change my loads is such a convenience. These new machines have eliminated wasted time when doing laundry.”
The system’s independent payment feature also gives students more options when paying for laundry cycles. In addition to paying with coins, they can also use their laundry or campus debit card to pay for their laundry.
Before the alert system was installed, Rick Arcuri, director of business operations and auxiliary services, was getting complaints about the hassle of doing laundry. Word spread from other campuses that there was a better way to do it.
The ball started rolling in the spring of 2014 when a group of engineering students designed a laundry alert system for their senior project. Arcuri knew the demand was there, so he reached out to his laundry service provider, WASH Multifamily Laundry Systems. District Sales Manager Bill White put the system in place.
Arcuri has received positive feedback from many students across campus. Every two years, Marquette surveys its on-campus residents on a variety of topics, including amenities. Arcuri’s confident that upcoming survey results will show an increase in student’s level of satisfaction with on-campus laundry rooms.
“For me, the ultimate ROI is student satisfaction,” Arcuri shared. “Our students are incredibly happy with the ability to view machine availability without having to physically visit the laundry room, and then to be called back when the cycle is complete. They love it.”
Minimizing Hands-on Management
Besides making laundry less of a chore for students, the alert system makes life easier for university staff when managing equipment. The new technology allows them to monitor every machine from the comfort of their desk, or anywhere they have internet access.
“I don’t spend my time worrying about out-of-order machines anymore,” Arcuri said. “Before we had this technology, we would constantly have to walk through the laundry rooms and check for down machines one by one. Now, I can simply monitor their status on a computer screen.”
In order to make the alert system run properly, they made the decision to upgrade their laundry equipment. Acuri and White worked together on selecting the best machines and controls to replace existing equipment in the 22 laundry facilities on campus. More than 100 front load washers and dryers, mostly stack dryers to save space, as well as a few single load dryers, were installed throughout campus.
All of the new, state-of-art machines have a control system that unites the equipment, programming and management. With features including multiple vend options and transaction tracking, White has programmed Marquette’s machines for optimal performance and convenience. Because the status of equipment can be viewed from any internet-connected device, the system brings attention to out-of-order machines right away.
Students or staff can quickly notify Marquette’s laundry service provider if a washer or dryer is down by visiting a website, calling a hotline or using a free smart phone app to request service. Once contacted, a service tech is dispatched to repair the machine, minimizing downtime and improving student satisfaction.
“I think it is difficult for universities to hope to manage their laundry operations on their own when you factor in all of the related cost and time it requires to properly maintain them. Additionally, facility managers have so much more on their plate,” White said. “They often spend much more time and effort than anticipated when managing laundry, and student satisfaction can suffer as a result.”
Using Less Resources While Achieving a Great Wash
Top-of-the-line, energy-efficient machines save costs on water and gas utilities. For example, the newly installed front load washers at Marquette feature 300 G-Force energy extraction speed to maximize water removal during the spin cycle and decrease drying times, so laundry gets done faster.
Other technologically-advanced machines available today feature extraction speeds as high as 440 G-Force to remove even more water and further reduce drying times. Additionally, select front load washers are equipped with a technology that can expertly redistribute and balance loads to deliver smoother cycles. This results in less vibration and noise throughout the laundry room and to neighboring rooms, providing a quieter environment for students to complete their studies.
Modern dryers feature quiet, energy-efficient blower systems with superior airflow for fast drying and lower operating costs, getting students in and out of the laundry room quickly, without partially-dried clothes.
The new, advanced laundry equipment also allows Arcuri and his staff to further reduce water and energy costs by customizing cycles with tailored vend prices through cycle modifiers. They can set prices for medium and heavy soiled clothing that needs to be washed longer, offering a way to pay for the increased energy needed to run a longer cycle.
Since most college students want to save money when doing laundry, the system makes them more aware of the resources they are using when selecting laundry cycles. Many students care about sustainability and their environmental impact, and they appreciate energy-efficient laundry equipment as a means to conserve resources.
Why You Should Keep it Simple
Many college students are on the go – they are rushing to class, heading to the library, or off to work – and it should be easy and convenient for them to do laundry. Machines with complicated functions and features can hinder this ability.
Easy-to-use controls add simplicity, while multiple temperature and wash cycle options allow students to customize the cycle depending on the items being laundered. Adjustable water level options allow students to select the best wash quality for each load. This versatility and ease-of-use is extended at the dryer, with a control panel that offers multiple choices without over-complication: normal, permanent press, delicate and no heat.
Having straightforward controls is important to better serve students who need to complete a necessary task – one of many that they are working into their busy schedules. It’s not always about all the bells and whistles. It’s about having durable, reliable, energy-efficient machines constructed with metal and not plastic, that are built to last longer.
When introducing new technology to your campus, keep in mind the benefits of improving student satisfaction, minimizing the need for hands-on management, and using less resources for a better wash while also keeping it simple. These benefits will ultimately ensure that your investment was well worth it.
Arcuri is confident that he and his team made the right decision on upgrading laundry equipment at Marquette University. The positive feedback from students, easy-to-use controls allowing management to monitor machines from their desk, and the ability to better control water and energy consumption shows that his investment paid off.
“When we go into a residence hall meeting and ask, ‘what are we doing well?’ the new laundry system comes up every time,” he said. “I’ve even had people come up and personally thank me as if I did it all myself. Implementing new technology in campus laundry rooms was a win-win situation for both students and staff.”