Tunnel Washers: Science and Innovation

G.A. Braun’s new research publication focuses on tunnels and wash pie fundamentals

For nearly 50 years, batch tunnel washers have provided laundry operators with a cost-effective means of processing large quantities of textiles. Although technologies have changed and evolved over time, one thing that has remained constant is the sci-ence behind the cleaning of goods in a batch tunnel washer.

G.A. Braun, Inc., Syracuse, NY, has captured the science in an informative and factual publication titled Science Stands the Test of Time. Written by a team of Braun technical experts, the co-authors include: Steve Wilbur, direc-tor of engineering and product development; Jim Betar, lead process and test engineer; and Diedrich Willers, lead engineer for tunnel development. Their publication outlines the function of the Braun tunnel and most impor-tantly, it details information on the “wash pie” and how it impacts all batch tunnel washers.

Balanced Wash Pie Equal Contribution of All Components

Balanced Wash Pie

The science of the wash pie requires that a balance be established between its components to insure a stable and repeatable process that will provide consistent linen quality and life cycle performance.

Unbalanced Wash Pie Adjustments required for improper sizing from balanced model

Unbalanced Wash Pie

Science dictates that a reduction in time and mechanical action requires an increase in chemical concentration and/or temperature.

As operators consider the various technologies available to them in the market for batch tun-nel washers, there are many technologies that advertise themselves as the next generation in tunnel innovation. They say they save water, chemicals and time. The marketing claims of these technologies can overwhelm prospective buyers of this equipment. So how does one cut through the hype and understand how a tunnel works and the relationship that the wash pie plays in all tunnel washers? Braun’s publica-tion focuses precisely on that goal. 

When we asked Wilbur why Braun published Science Stands the Test of Time, he said the mis- sion was to address the scientific principles behind tunnel technology. “We have been manufacturing batch tunnel washers for over 25 years, and like every tunnel manufacturer, our technologies have evolved,” he says. “We wanted to capture a scientific analysis and description of how our tunnels operate and the relationship to the wash pie, which is the fun-damental science of cleaning laundry. Although tunnel technologies have changed dramatically over the years, the fundamentals of the wash pie have not. Bringing this science into focus and relating it to tunnel technology was the primary purpose behind the publication.”

The publication takes a detailed look at the process zones of the Braun tunnel and com-pares its technology with others. The publication isn’t written as a marketing tool for their tunnel. Instead, it was conceived as a factual guide to help readers understand the funda-mental relationship between tunnels and the principles of the wash pie. “By taking the four key pieces of the wash pie and relating them to the science of tunnel technology, our readers can gain an understanding of how changes in one of the four wash pie variables affects the others,” says Betar. These variables, which include mechanical action, chemistry, time and temperature, can affect their processing costs, production volume and linen life.” Willers adds that, “Giving our readers a refresher course, so to speak, will help them make informed decisions in the operation of anyone’s batch tunnel washer. Certainly one of the goals was to help the reader understand how our tunnel washers work, but our most important goal was to help the reader understand how the wash pie variables, tunnel sizing and other system and process considerations impact costs and washing ef-ficiencies.”

Science Stands the Test of Time examines and seeks to debunk one form of marketing hype by showing how reductions in variables like wash time and mechanical action resulting from improperly sized tunnels will increase the chemical slice of the wash pie. This, in turn, leads to higher operating costs and reduced linen life. Although focused on the batch tunnel washer and the wash pie, the publication also points out the importance of overall system design considerations, including extraction and properly sizing dryer capabilities. 

Although tunnel technologies have changed dramatically over the years, the fundamentals of the wash pie have not. 

The industry has reacted positively to this informative 23-page booklet. From leading chemical suppliers to opera-tors to other equipment manufacturers, Braun has sought to refocus the industry on the fundamentals of laundering science as it relates to batch tunnel washers. Braun has received hundreds of requests for this publication and more arrive daily.

The science of laundering textile goods has existed for hundreds of years, amid continuing evolution based on new and improved technologies, including those associated with batch tunnel washers. The fundamentals of the wash pie also have been around for decades, but they sometimes are overlooked when tunnel innovations are introduced. Braun’s publication brings these fundamentals back into focus and shows readers how science stands the test of time.

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