Speed and consistency – the key to continuing profit

23 January 2018

Fast processing and consistency in the finished result is key to operating a profitable shirt service. Tony Vince looks at the latest generation of shirt finishers

The quality of finishing products on view at this year’s Clean Show in Las Vegas was prolific and there were innovations galore for drycleaners. With shirt services in particular becoming more and more popular, adding this additional service to a new or existing business means that a cleaner can generate a significant revenue stream.

Drycleaners are slowly switching to automatic finishing machines, with the purpose of increasing their production and reducing their costs, to better face the fierce competition in the market, says Carlo Barbanti, president and managing director of equipment manufacturer Barbanti Carlo in Italy.

The move to automation allows businesses to train staff quickly while allowing them to finish a wide range of garments efficiently.

Customers generally look for first-class finishing in the shortest finishing times he says; pricing may also be a crucial aspect. Since the finishing process is always extremely time-consuming and expensive, high-performance tensioning machines are essential to meet the above-mentioned requirements. The company also emphasises the energy efficiency of its finishing equipment. “We have always considered energy efficient performance a crucial feature for finishing machines,” says Carlo Barbanti.

One recent development in the Barbanti Carlo range is its model 435 shirt finisher, which is now equipped with additional features to allow the finishing of a greater variety of garments, ranging from regular shirts to small slim fit shirts and ladies’ blouses (up to European size 26 slim fit blouses). The machine was displayed at Clean 2017 by Barbanti’s US distributor Hi-Steam.

Another well-known Italian company, Fimas, used Clean 2017 to emphasise its full range of form finishers for shirts and jackets.

Dane Realstar distributes equipment by Fimas in the UK.

According to Sheila Higgs at Dane Realstar, the latest drycleaning and laundry machines have many cost saving devices but there are other factors that the drycleaner must look at when purchasing finishing equipment.

She says that the Fimas 296 Pressed Shirt Unit is specifically designed for high volume, quality shirt finishing.

The pressed ironing of wet and dry shirts gives a high quality crisp firm finish to the body, yoke, shoulders, long and short sleeves and sleeve placket. Capable of processing 45 – 60 shirts per hour with one operator, the machine has a touch screen control with adjustable settings.

The Fimas 296 is now joined by the Fimas series 298, an automatic unit for pressed finishing of wet and dry shirts, with two 180degree rotating formers and a finishing station with hot plates and hot air blowing.

The Fimas 296 and 298 can be teamed up with the Fimas 387 collar cuff press. This has a steam-heated an easy-to-clean polished head top buck and safety rail. Pads prevent pressure marks from buttons. The Fimas 387 collar cuff press can be connected to central steam services or supplied with an integrated boiler capable of producing sufficient steam for both this machine and the Fimas 296.

There are two models available, the (387.50) standard and (387.60) vertical compact design. The (387.60) also offers an extra 20% greater pressing power.

Dane Realstar also supplies the versatile Fimas 314 blown shirt & form finisher, which can finish jackets, coats and raincoats. The unit has a touchscreen display on the control panel with fully automatic control, while the adjustable airflow allows more delicate garments to be finished.

Automatic timed cycles for pressing and clamp devices, with adjustable clamp pressure means that the shirt or garment receives the best result whatever shape or size.  The heated front press panel automatically unlocks at the end of the cycle moving to the side for unloading.

The Fimas 317 shirt and form finisher is similar to the 314.03 model, but also has the benefit of a pneumatic cradle for side and rear clamp plates, a choice of cuff clamp shapes including the rotary cuff finishers, and an automatic front pressing plate.

Finally, the Fimas 389 blown shirt finisher is described as the perfect blown shirt finisher for drycleaners, combining ease of operation with a high level of technology.

It will finish wet or dry shirts, although dry shirts will need extra finishing.

An air operated sequence simultaneously clamps the collar, presses the front panel of the body with a heated panel, the shoulders and sleeves (both short or long) and rear tail and lower traction plates tension the body stretching the shirt body and tightening the seams.

Definite growth

According to specialist laundry and drycleaning supplier Alex Reid, there is a definite growth in the number of outlets offering shirt services, with most of their independent drycleaner customers now offering this facility. “It is a profitable add-on for any drycleaners, “ says Reg Redjeb, business development manager at Alex Reid. “ Even at a low retail price per shirt, it can be a profitable venture, providing they are able to generate high volumes.“

If a drycleaner provides a good, efficient and consistent service, the customer will generate regular and repeat business. Getting the service element right is crucial; by going one step further, such as collecting or delivering the shirts, the dry cleaner can help ensure customer retention.  The shirt service is basically defined by two things:  the service provision and the finish. 

Alex Reid provides all-round support for drycleaners and the shirt services they offer.  This includes offering advice on the right kind of finishing machines for each individual business, training and advice on the machines and complimentary products, regular on-sites visits, nationwide servicing and promotional support.

Alex Reid supplies finishing machines from manufacturers Cocchi and Camptel that come with expert installation and support from the outset. The Zephyr 30C Shirt/Multi Finisher from Camptel is easy to use and maintain and finishes wet shirts straight from the washing machine.  It has a daily productivity of 150/200 pieces and can be heated by steam or an electric battery.  The 100 Rotor Cabinet is a fully programmable steam cabin that offers high speed finishing for a range of clothing, available with built-in boiler option.

Italian manufacturer Cocchi supply a Mark III Pneumatic Form Finisher that is fully equipped with a blowing motor, vacuum motor and electronic programmer as well as front and back central shovel pneumatics. Additional optional features are also available. Cocchi also offers a Collar and Cuff Press, available with both steam and electric options.  These two machines dry and iron to give a perfect finish.

“We are definitely seeing more interest in our shirt finishing machines and have extended our range to meet this growing demand, “ says Redjeb.

Working environment

As the sole UK distributor for Sankosha of Japan, Parrisianne Dry Cleaning Solutions has installed several shirt systems in the UK. It can arrange site visits to any of the installations of Sankosha finishing equipment working in the UK, allowing cleaners to see the equipment working in a true working environment and to speak to operators and owners.

Connoisseur Dry cleaners installed a Sankosha shirt finishing system into its North London premises. Connoisseur had been outsourcing its shirts and was not getting the quality finish they expected for its clients.

They decided to take control back and installed the Sankosha LP590E single buck shirt press and the LP690E tensioning single collar and cuff press.

Ediz Zekayi, managing director of Connoisseur said: “Our clients expect an extremely high level of finish to their shirts. When shirts were being outsourced, we had to continuously touch them up before we could allow them to go out. Now we have full control of all of our shirts and are very satisfied with the high level of finish achieved by the Sankosha equipment we have installed.”

Lucy White Dry Cleaners of Kingston upon Thames has been processing several hundred shirts per week for the past couple of years and this was putting an enormous amount of pressure on its pressing department.

After talking to James Holt, managing director of Parrisianne Dry Cleaning Solutions, about the Sankosha shirt finishers, the business decided to install the Sankosha LP590E single buck body and sleeve finisher and the Sankosha LP609E single collar and cuff press.

Lucy White now uses a semi-skilled operator to finish all shirts on the new Sankosha machines, processing double the volume of work to a high standard in a fraction of the previous time. This has led to a greater profit margin on shirt processing, a far greater quality finish and shirts are ready when the customer comes to collect them.

Renzacci UK has also seen a growing number of businesses offering a shirt service in recent years, according to managing director Jason Alexander. “We quite often see businesses get to critical mass where they have an increase of work coming in but not enough capacity within the business or time in the day to cope with demand. This is where a Pony shirt machine becomes a shop owner’s best friend.”

Renzacci UK is the sole UK importer of finishing equipment produced by Pony of Italy and Alexander says that the company can offer a shirt machine to suit every business and every budget.

Pony produces a wide range of pressing and finishing machinery for the drycleaning, laundry, garment manufacturing and hotel industries. Founded in 1958, it now counts on a network of more than 200 distributors around the world. At Clean 2017 in Las Vegas, Pony displayed its latest double rotary shirt press DB 360 together with the new version of the single buck Angel 2.0 and the best-selling Eagle tensioning shirt finisher.

All three shirt finishers feature Pony’s Hot Air Recovery System (HARS), which enables faster drying times, higher productivity and reduced energy consumptions; Pony Sleeve Technology consisting of rounded height adjustable sleeve tensioning clamps paired with Teflon presses heads for the finish of shirt’s sleeves and plackets; and Pony PLC Technology that provides total touchscreen control of the machine cycle.

The Pony Angel 2.0 is the latest version of Renzacci UK’s most popular shirt finishers. Pony has enhanced the already successful single buck press unit by adding Pony’s HARS. This system recycles hot air released during processing and re-uses it to help reduce energy cost. Using up to 24kilos of steam per hour, the powerful hot air flow and the two steam heated, Teflon coated finishing bucks produce perfect finishing in under 30seconds. This single buck shirt press is also equipped with a “touch screen” computer, allowing the operator total control over all the machine’s functions. The Teflon coated heads prevent shining even on dark garments and the heads are easy to wipe clean and to remove starch residue. When teamed with the Pony Collar and Cuff press, a single member of staff can process up to 60 shirts an hour.

Angel 2.0 is height adjustable, while its compact footprint allows it to fit into particularly narrow sites and through 90cm doors.

Renzacci UK also supplies the Pony Eagle shirt finisher. The Eagle builds on the Angel’s success and features heated shoulder pressing and Teflon-coated shoulder pads. The built-in heat recovery system is said to save 30% on energy costs. This system, like the Pony Angel, can be combined with the Pony Collar and Cuff Press (CCP) and is capable of processing around 35-50 shirts an hour.




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