Laundry managers want machines that reduce labour and energy costs as well as giving good wash results.

The latest generation of machines represents a streamlined approach to design that still produces long-lasting, efficient equipment.

Jay Klemm, product manager at Alliance Laundry Systems, says the economic situation is now much better than in 2010 but despite positive signs, recovery varies from market to market and from country to country. He says that overall demand for washer-extractors is up and demand from hospitality and hotel sectors is growing.

Klemm says that on average laundry costs break down as labour (45 – 50%); equipment (8 – 12%); linen replacement (13 – 25%); chemicals (8 – 12%); utilities (8 – 12%) and maintenance (3%).

“We focus on providing the lowest lifecycle cost for our customers. Our product designs and standard program settings have minimised water and energy consumption as one part of successful laundry operations.” He points out that whereas many competitive control systems only have three water levels for operators to choose from – low, medium or high – the controls on Alliance machines offer up to 30 different water levels. This applies across the brands – Ipso’s Cygnus, UniMac’s UniLinc, Speed Queen’s Quantum Gold and Huebsch’s Galaxy.

The small changes in level help to retain optimum wash quality while reducing annual water consumption by tens of thousands of gallons. Many of the company’s standard wash programs are designed with assistance from leading experts in washing science. For example, UniLinc was developed as a total management system for OPLs with 41 cycle options to make sure that machines can be programmed to handle any level of soiling.

Although the recession had an international impact, Girbau in Spain reports that its global strategies, both in terms of countries and in the range of sectors it serves, have helped it to increase sales.

Marc Caralt, commercial division product manager, says that growth is not confined solely to heavy-duty laundries. The company has seen increased demand from sectors such as care homes, hotels, coin-op services and hospitals. In mature markets there is greater interest from laundries wanting to upgrade their machines. Developing markets are also seeing growing demand for laundry equipment, especially from hotels.

Girbau recently equipped five hotels opened by the international Hilton Garden Inn chain in Turkey. The equipment includes high-capacity washers, plus smaller washers and an ironer. The company has also carried out installations in two Hilton hotels that are scheduled to open shortly.

Reducing water and energy consumption has always been fundamental to Girbau’s design strategy as both have a direct effect on the laundry’s profitability and on the environment.

As well as working to reduce the consumption through the machine’s design, the company has also devoted a section of its website to Girbau Laundry Tips (GLT), a service which helps in training staff to use equipment more efficiently.

Caralt says it is essential for manufacturers to develop control systems that allow operators to use programs suitable for each type of laundry and each soil level. Girbau has developed systems that make it easier to program and control the machines and also tools that help to train staff in using the controls.

One example is Girbau’s IMTx (Inteli Manager Tool Expert) software, which can be used in programming the Inteli controlled washers and includes the ISI (Inteli Simulator Tool), which helps to train staff.

Girbau’s Logi Pro control provides a further option with a higher degree of programming than that offered by the standard Logi control. Logi Pro can be found on Girbau’s MG Series 6, a range of hard-mounted machines with a spin speed of 750rpm and force of 200G. They reduce residual moisture by 10 – 25% compared with other hard-mount, lower G-force machines.

Lapauw’s Wim Demeyer agrees that customers now are far more aware of the importance of energy and water consumption. Lapauw’s washer-extractor research and development is focussed on water consumption. The company has tested technology that will reduce this and the first results are very promising.

Lapauw recently secured an order for sixty, three-pocket washer-extractors from the multinational construction organisation, the Saudi Binladin Group.

This contract, part of a project in Saudi Arabia, is said to be one of the industry’s biggest for washer-extractors. Demeyer says that the company fought hard to secure the contract but the positive references that Lapauw has in the region convinced the Binladin Group that the Lapauw washer was the machine t it was looking for.

The machines are to be used in a lodging that will accommodate Hadj people on their way to Mecca. Close teamwork with its Middle Eastern distributor, Wotek, enabled the Lapauw Group to secure the order.

Demeyer believes that a contract of this size shows that washer-extractor technology still has a place in the laundry. He adds that since the news of this order leaked to the industry, the company has seen a huge surge in demand for its washers.

Lapauw is one of the few manufacturers able to offer top-loading, open-pocket machines. The first, a 120kg machine, is already in operation with a customer. “Development in the field of microprocessor control systems is important”, says Demeyer, especially for applications where traceability is needed.

Lapauw’s latest microprocessor control system offers up to 99 programs and the system can also be used for maintenance. The Electronic Lapauw System (ELS) acts as a tele-service system to keep the machine in permanent contact with a server at Lapauw, so laundry managers can check on machines, even when off-site. The ELS system can be automatically updated and can store programs or copy programs from one machine to another.

Steve Hietpas, national sales manager at Maytag Commercial Laundry, says that the focus on energy and water saving is increasing. Maytag has noticed that buyers are taking a lot more trouble in reaching their decision and educating themselves on the long-term effects of their purchase. Hietpas says that a fully programmable microprocessor helps to ensure that the washer can be updated as advances occur. He says that developing programs that minimise guesswork is important as this reduces the risk of mistakes.

Stahl of Germany reports that international demand for its washer-extractors is good, in both the commercial laundry and the OPL sectors. Rainer Leddin says that the latest generation of Atoll and WS washer-extractors now features developments that can achieve maximum energy savings. These include PULS pendulum overflow process, the SWI special heat retention function, the Eco drum and the Speed-Flow hydrodynamic wash process.

Stahl’s Atoll machines are available in 13 different sizes and range from small, 5.5 and 7.7kg machines to large washers from 35 – 110kg. The WS range of washer-extractors covers capacities from 10 – 60kg and features include reduced spin revolutions, a frequency converter and the PTS-Drive (Power Transmission System). The washer-extractors are available in steam, thermal oil or electrically heated versions.

Both Atoll and WS machines have Stahl’s integrated FREEpro microprocessor control, which can be combined with Stahl’s “WashPerformance” to control parameters in line with either linen type or soiling levels.

Pellerin Milnor’s large open-pocket washer-extractors are designed to maximise output and efficiency. Many international installations successfully use the large washer-extractors in combination with pass-through dryers, says Milnor International’s managing director Karl Schubert.

The 48040 and 68036 F-Series washer-extractors are rated to process 125kg (275lb) and 182 – 227kg (400 – 500lb) respectively. They can process a range of work categories including heavy-duty loads such as tents and dust control mats. The washer-extractors are built with a durable stainless-steel construction and feature Milnor’s “smooth coil” suspension, which allows for constant natural frequency despite changes in load size and eliminates spring noise.

The Mark VI microprocessor control is available on Milnor’s 48040F7W, 48040F7N and 68036F5N washer-extractors. It includes 100 formulae and 98 of these are programmable. A full-screen colour graphic display provides step-by-step programming instructions. The control can be linked to the Mildata system, so increasing the possible variations to 1,000.

Like all Milnor washer-extractors, the F-Series has a stainless-steel cylinder with large perforations, which help to maximise wash quality through improved dilution and by providing enough space for the dirty water and soil to escape from the work.

The F-Series also features two gravity-assisted tilt options to minimise operator effort. An optional overhead chute allows work to be loaded automatically.

Schubert says that Milnor introduced automated systems based on the open-pocket design in 1976 and some of these machines are still in operation. The simplified loading system now offered is the next logical step in developing this successful system.

Return to replacement sales

The recession hit demand for large capacity open-pocket washer-extractors in the industrial sector but the Jensen Group started to see a return to replacement sales early in 2010 and it reports that new plants are planned for 2012. There is less demand for these machines in the hospitality and healthcare sectors although healthcare sector demand has remained fairly constant.

Utility savings are increasingly important in all sectors so this is a priority in designing equipment. Ratio washing and water re-use systems help to minimise water and chemical use. Jensen’s L-Tron range of washer-extractors also has an airbag suspension system, which acts as an efficient shock absorber during extraction and can be deflated during the wash cycle to maximise mechanical action and reduce chemical use. High-extraction speeds help to reduce drying time and energy consumption.

The L-Tron range of washer-extractors is controlled by a PLC, which has a touchscreen for easier operation. The system provides 99 wash options that, together with ratio washing, allow programs to be matched to each batch.

Miele believes that the benchmark for reducing laundry costs and the environmental impact is being raised continually. The company places great importance on reducing water use, which in turn cuts energy and consumables use. In the recently introduced WashPlus range, the 20kg washer uses 47% less water and 40% less energy than the equivalent model in the previous series. Miele has developed control systems that allow the washers to be used for diverse applications.

Much of the company’s research is focussed on developing sector-specific wash programs that can be further customised at point of installation.

Kannegiesser continues the technological advances in its Favorit Plus range of washer-extractors, available in sizes up to 270kg loading capacity. Using the latest water management software together with the proven JET rinsing process, the Favorit Plus has achieved good water and energy consumption figures. In addition, Kannegiesser’s Futura open-pocket washer-extractors are available in sizes ranging from 110 – 260kg.

Both the Favorit Plus and Futura ranges can be equipped with weigh scales so the wash process can be adapted to suit the load’s weight.

Kannegiesser says that its PowerSwing washer-extractor could be of interest to large installations where a tunnel washer cannot be accommodated. Two machine sizes – 180kg and 300kg – are currently available.

The PowerSwing can be loaded automatically using a loading conveyor or the Kannegiesser Supertrack monorail bag system.

Schulthess, the Swiss-based manufacturer of laundry machines says that clients are now investing more in innovative, energy-efficient and technically high-standard washing machines.

The company says that it is important to develop and manufacture laundry technology that achieves the highest level of quality for textiles as economically and ecologically as possible.

It is important that operators never lose sight of the required quality – achieving savings in the wash system should not have a negative effect on the overall process, says Schulthess. For example, if the water levels in the rinsing area are repeatedly lowered, this may possibly lead to residual alkalinity in the flat linen, which in turn can cause problems, it adds.

The ProfiClean programs are developed by Schulthess for the individual demands of users.

At its research and development department in Wolfhausen, its own processing techniques are developed and tested – often by involving suppliers of laundry detergents.

Schulthess works closely with the detergent industry. The company says that it wants to continue to develop laundering processes as efficiently as possible and to allow these developments to be influenced by the laundry detergent industry’s requirements as well as by its own experience.