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Aramark Uniform ServicesThe Challenge:

It was apparent through successive annual boiler plant inspections at the ARAMARK Uniform Services production facility in LaCrosse, Wisconsin that the Bailey pneumatic control system was in need of replacement.

“We had 25 year-old outdated controls that constantly broke down and used excessive amounts of gas,” recalls Ray Miedema, production manager for the LaCrosse facility.

With separate pneumatic actuators for fuel and air control, seasonal fuel/air ratio adjustments were very difficult to make. Given this difficulty, and the scarcity of service technicians intimately familiar with the old pneumatic controls, adjustments were avoided, and operating efficiency suffered.

erry Wilson, Regional Operations Support Manager – Central Region, observes, “The Bailey system was outdated and Bailey wouldn’t (couldn’t) supply the repair parts we needed.”

“As a rule, we operate only one boiler for an entire facility,” says Wilson, “without any backup.” With so many critical operations dependent on the boiler plant, especially providing the hot water and steam for hundreds of thousands of pounds of laundry each week, any sort of equipment replacement had to happen over a weekend. Downtime was not an option.

According to Miedema, downtime is not in the ARAMARK vocabulary. “Downtime is a devastation for production, going well beyond any sort of cost factor. The bottom line is, if the boiler doesn’t run, we don’t run! We need every day to meet our customer’s needs, so any sort of changeout of those vintage 1970 low pressure air controls had to happen between Friday night and Monday morning, no exceptions.”

ARAMARK had been purchasing HVAC and boiler parts from Industrial Controls and Wilson made the connection about the company’s other capabilities – boiler control expertise for industrial systems.

The Solution:

Wilson turned to Industrial Control’s combustion engineer, who designed an electronic burner management system. Diagnostics and a non-volatile fault history were included to maximize boiler availability. Maxon Micro-Ratio® valves were provided to assure precise control of fuel/air ratio and to simplify adjustment when needed. Miedema recalls that Wilson “liked what he saw, both the prints and the staff.”

The Industrial Controls engineer, along with Wilson and Miedema, were present at the LaCrosse facility the entire weekend of the changeout.

“We really had a commitment from Industrial Controls – they had the resources in-house and the ability to do this critical project,” says Wilson. “Industrial Controls is one of only a couple of companies I’m aware of that could do this type of work, and it turned out really well!”

“There were a few startup problems with a finicky relay, but that’s pretty typical, and the problems were solved right away,” adds Miedema.

“The LaCrosse facility is getting better fuel mileage, more accurate and tighter control, safer boiler operations, and incredible efficiency. We are experiencing between 40% to 50% in gas savings, and the project paid for itself in less than a year.”

Wilson continues, “After the success in the LaCrosse facility, we did the East Moline facility the following year, and the facility in South Bend the next year. Each of them had the same challenges but they all turned out great!”

“The Industrial Controls engineer is a superstar. He is a big reason why all of these projects were so successful. He is very knowledgeable, helpful, and personable. Having him on the job made me comfortable that things would go well – it’s nice when you find a vendor that you can establish that kind of comfort level with these days.”

“Industrial Controls provided us with good, solid designs and they really know what they’re doing!” concludes Miedema.

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