The demand from hospitals is increasing in the Middle East laundry market as the green growth concept is fast catching up in the region. The existing laundries in the UAE are in the process of strengthening their capacities to cater to the growing demand for the hospital linen.
Abu Dhabi-based Advanced Laundry is in the process of making exclusive arrangements for hospital linen. Located on Hameem Road, Advanced Laundry has capacity spanning over 48 tonne of clothes per day. While the hospitality sector represents the largest portion of our customer base, other customers include those from the commercial, retail, military, cleaning and catering companies. Rayu Priolkar, General Manager at Advanced Laundry, told Clean Middle East: “There’s good demand for hospital linen laundry. We’ll have a new plant exclusively for hospital linen at the existing facility. We have already placed orders for the Barrier washer exclusively for hospital linen. It’ll get three months to get the equipment and another three months to install it. By next six months, we’ll commence the operations for hospital linen.”
The Barrier washing machine is suitable for heavily soiled linen from hospitals or nursing homes as hygiene washer has sluice and disinfecting programmes built in. “Contaminated linen will be fed to Barrier machines from one side and fresh linen will come from other side of the machine. Initially, we will begin with a capacity of 3,000 kgs a day. We’re targeting 25 per cent market share in the hospital linen,” adds Rayu.
“We are working on taking the Management contract of laundries from the hospitals. We see good demand in the segment,” Mohamed Yehia, Business Development Manager at Advanced Laundry. The growth potential in the UAE healthcare industry will further push demand for hospital linen laundry services. It is estimated that the UAE’s healthcare market is projected to reach $14.6 billion by the end of 2014, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 16 per cent since 2011. The UAE government spent 24 per cent of the 2011 Federal Budget on social and healthcare development. Total healthcare spending is projected to nearly double by 2014 raising the sector’s contribution to GDP from 2.8 percent to 3.4 percent, respectively.
The growing demand is pushing laundries to take additional measures for the hospital linen as this segment requires special care. Generally, laundries segregate the clothes as per the dirty levels, whereas, hospital linen is treated with special attention as it involves health and hygiene issues. The hospital linen is infected one exposed to the bacteria from patients, airborne bacteria, etc. Hence, it requires extra care and attentions ensuring viruses, bacteria do not get carried over to other areas. This is where treating hospital linen at laundries assumes more importance.
Rayu further adds, “at Advanced Laundry, we understand industry demands and provide time-bound and high quality service. This coupled with our experienced and trained staff, state-of-the -art equipment, technology, facility, capacity and expansion capabilities is what makes us one of the leading laundry companies in UAE and our services are second to none. We provide end-to-end cleaning services, while ensuring all textiles and garments maintain their quality, we achieve our goals with enthusiasm simply because success is our passion.” The UAE already spends $0.65 billion on medical costs related to diabetes. It is predicted that this figure will rise 58 per cent to $1 billion by 2020 resulting in an increase in speciality hospitals. In Kuwait, 1,200 projects are scheduled for 2011-12. The Government of Kuwait is set to tender approximately US$3 billion worth of healthcare projects this year.
Agreeing that pricing is under pressure as the market is becoming more and more competitive, Yehia said: “We are providing high quality services at competitive prices and this enables us to compete in the market. Pricing is playing an important factor in clinching business contracts. However, ultimately quality service matters to keep up the business volume. Moreover, Abu Dhabi is a growing city. Sectors such as hospitality, construction are registering encouraging growth rates. This will result in good demand for laundry services.”
A leading laundry company in Abu Dhabi with a capacity running over 40,000 kilograms a day is in the process of earmarking special time slots for the hospital linen. The company sees a growing demand from the hospitals and is planning to offer hospital linen laundry services soon
“There’s really good demand for hospital linen in the UAE as the healthcare industry is catching up here. We already have laundry equipment for linen. Relying on our huge laundry capacity, same plant will be used for hospital linen as well. Our prospective customers insist on separate plant for hospital linen. However, to ensure healthy safety standards, we use different time slots for hospital linen and other workers’ uniforms, etc. We’ll commence our hospital linen laundry services in next few months. Since we have huge capacity,” said a spokesperson at the laundry on a condition of anonymity.
“Linen supply is very crucial when it comes to housekeeping, and its availability can affect the operations very much. We always ensure to have more than enough so that there wouldn’t be a shortage of supply,” said Pamini Hariprabha, Executive Housekeeper at Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates.
The UAE is leading the health and hygiene segment in the Middle East region. Considering the growth potential in the GCC healthcare industry, industry analysts forecast huge demand for hospital linen laundry segment. It’s expected that the total spending in the GCC healthcare industry will be at $44 billion by 2015 and further an estimated $60 billion by 2025 as against $28.9 billion in 2011, while 2012 numbers are yet to be released.
This will double the demand to almost 162,000 beds for hospital beds By 2025 in the GCC, while Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will register the greatest percentage increase in demand for hospital beds. In the next four years, the demand for hospital beds in Saudi Arabia is likely to grow from 51,000 to 70,000, and the number of hospitals is likely to rise from 364 to 502. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia spent US$13 billion on healthcare in 2005, and this spending is expected to grow to over US$20 billion by 2016.
Hospital linen laundry process
Generally, the laundry industry follows six-stage process for the hospital linen. The first three stages are part of the ‘Soiled Side’ operations, through which they occur before the linen is actually washed. The last three stages are called ‘Clean Side’ operations, since they involve the handling of clean linen. Soiled Retrieval process involves collecting the linen from the hospitals. The personnel handling this linen are required to use protective gear and take standard precautions as soiled linen from hospitals exposed to bloodborne and airborne pathogens and transporting the linen involves health hazards. During Soil sorting stage, the retrieved linen is unloaded and sorted according to item type. Different items often require different washing formulas. Also, later stages in the process require the linen to be pre-sorted, since it is handled batch by batch.
Washing stage in which the laundry is actually washed. The purer the water and the fresher the chemicals, the cleaner the laundry will be. The sorted linen is weighed according to the washing machine’s load limit. Large washing machines are used, usually operated by a certified washer operator. The washer operator loads and unloads the washer, decides what is to be washed according to the laundry’s schedule, and monitors the chemical levels in the water. Proper washing depends on five factors known as WATCH (Water quality, mechanical agitation, time, Chemical concentration and heat).
Then Processing stage takes place involving press which dries the linen. In the Packaging stage, the processed linen is prepared for delivery. Individual orders are filled, based on the needs and requests of the laundry’s customers, then sent to the laundry’s main distribution points and storage areas. Linen not used for orders is placed in storage areas, giving the facility a reserve of clean laundry.
Distribution stage, the trained delivery people transport the clean linen back to the customers. This is a skilled position, since the delivery person must have a thorough knowledge of both laundry operation and the principles of good customer service. In hospitals, delivery people must be familiar with patient relations, confidentiality policies and hospice. Large institutions will usually employ several full-time delivery people.