Traditional drycleaning is now at a turning point, said Marco Niccolini, general sales manager of Renzacci. "The customer wants to wear garments that are not only clean but hygienic and safe through the use of natural cleaning methods." He was explaining the reasons for the recent introduction of the Clean Bio concept that is now being used as a second branding, alongside the company’s name that stresses the company’s environmental credentials.
Renzacci does still sell perc machines and they are efficient but customers are looking for something different and Niccolini stressed that Renzacci can offer innovative ideas and products that will encourage a younger generation to use drycleaning services and also to consider drycleaning as a business opportunity.
The whole stand was dedicated to proving that drycleaning has changed and is now using simpler more ecological solutions.
The company is introducing the second generation Nebula machines that offer a shorter cycle, an improved filtration system and uses less water and energy than before. It works with hydrocarbon solvents and also GreenEarth.
The i-brain control is another example of innovation and a simpler approach. It allows machine operators to have an "assistant" that will guide them through the machine process and prevent mistakes. It will be valuable not only for established businesses but also for absolute beginners and again it may encourage younger entrants to the business.
Vincenzo Minarelli at Firbimatic believed the show was attracting more visitors in general and in particular more international visitors. The drycleaning market is generally stable but interest in multisolvent machines is growing and these account for the majority of sales.
Minarelli said that these machines give customers the flexibility they need as they can choose which solvent they want to use but then have the option to switch to another in the future.
The company is also offering innovation in another form as it can now supply all its machines with a decorative casing and Minarelli said that Firbimatic is the first manufacturer to "wrap" the machines in this way. It has a portfolio of pictures including a country scene and a swan gliding on water but drycleaners could also suggest ideas and it will be possible to change the design in the future. Minarelli said the concept would help to improve the industry’s image.
Firbimatic was expanding the range and showing the Eazy machine, which cleans with steam rather than solvent or water. It is intended as a supplementary machine and could also be used for pre-treating stains.
The AquaDry, available in 10 and 20kg sizes, is another addition to the range and allows cleaners to offer a laundry service. Both washing and drying are carried out in a closed circuit, and this allows energy from drying to be recovered.
The second generation Hydroflex machines were also on show. Like the original they provide a choice of washing or drycleaning with alternative solvents but now include built-in distillation.
At Realstar, Roberto Grandi was very positive about the exhibition. Talking about drycleaning trends he said that the Italian market was still suffering from recession and business was tough. Many businesses needed to upgrade because their machines were old but it was difficult to persuade them to do so.
However the show is international and although Realstar still sells perc in certain markets including Italy, North Africa and Asia, interest in alternatives is growing. Grandi said that multisolvents point to the direction that the market will develop in the long term.
Realstar is introducing a multisolvent machine that can be adapted to suit any of the alternatives on the market including Hydrocarbon, GreenEarth, K4 and a recent development KTex , a halogen-free solvent, for use in Class III machines.
At present, said Grandi, hydrocarbon is still the best seller in alternative solvents but demand for K4 and GreenEarth is significant. KTex produced by Bardahl, is relatively new but has already attracted demand.
Expo Detergo exceeded expectations according to Giocomo Fontana at Maestrelli, who said that the company saw a "huge number of visitors, including many from countries that had not been represented at the exhibition before and even some from the Italian market, which has been suffering for several years.
Maestrelli will be celebrating its 80th anniversary next year and so it was especially pleased with the response as it received orders from Italy, the UK, Algeria, and France.
It was introducing the DreamClean multisolvent machines, which can use any of the alternatives on the market.
However, perc is still popular in many markets and Maestrelli meets such requirements with its perc machines, which are well established in the market.
In addition to drycleaning machines, the company was also showing its washers and dryers in capacities up to 120kg.
Wetcleaning presents a further option for the textile cleaning market and this is a particular strength for Electrolux as its Lagoon system is the only one with Woolmark approval. Antonella Favaro said that this is well established throughout the international market. She had spoken to several visitors that had installed the system and were happy with it. She also stressed that Lagoon has several applications. It can be used as a complete replacement for solvent drycleaning or as an additional method that allows cleaners to accept a wider range of garments.
She said that there had been interest from a coin-op business that wanted to offer a garment cleaning service.
Electrolux has recently extended the Lagoon range of machines with a 6kg washer and matching dryer. This could appeal to businesses that handled relatively small volumes of wetcleanable clothes.
She stressed that Lagoon is sustainable and doesn’t need heavy investment in terms of installation and discharge.
The previous Expo Detergo saw the official launch of Kreussler’s K4 solvent and head of sales Christophe Richter said the company was now nearing 1,000 installations worldwide. Sales were particularly strong in the USA where regulation that restricts perc is increasing but it was also gaining popularity in Europe where customers were seeking a solvent that combines efficient cleaning (its Kb value approaches that of perc) with eco-friendly cleaning.
The Kreussler stand was also focussed on its industrial laundry division and was introducing its Derval Power, a one-shot liquid detergent, to the Italian market. Derval Power contains optical brighteners, is free of phosphate and NTAs, and is gentler on linen.
The British chemicals manufacturer Cole and Wilson is now part of the Christeyns group and Richard Cole has taken responsibility for the Gentle Care drycleaning chemicals division. It has responded to the growing demand for alternative solvents by launching HiGlo, a hydrocarbon-based solvent that is odour free.
The Gentle Care division also includes the Sultra range of drycleaning products such as SultraSpot for stain removal and the Pro-Fix wetcleaning products.
Finishing is an important part of the drycleaning process but it can be labour intensive so there is growing demand for machines that automate the process and this was evident throughout the displays of manufacturers in this sector.
Trevil marketing manager Corinna Mapelli certainly noticed customers need to increase productivity. Like many Italian companies, Trevil’s focus is now on exports, which account for around 80% of sales.
She said there was great interest in shirt finishing. She had talked to customers about their requirements and used this information to help develop the Presto FC range. The result was a hot-plate unit that is designed to be quick to dress and has several features that contribute to a high quality finish.
The pressing components have a coating that prevents shine on dark colours. The body is designed so that both the sleeve arm and cuffs can be angled to suit different styles. A special suction plate with a cooldown mechanism improves the finish of the shirt tail.
Many shops have limited space so Mapelli said the machine design took account of this and its narrow shape allowed it to be installed easily without the need to remove the shop door or to bring the machine in through a window.
At Alux, the Polish manufacturer of finishing equipment for drycleaning businesses, Szymon Wiecowski was pleased with the show and even on the first day had made contacts in Arabia, Egypt, Italy and France as well as meeting customers that had already bought machines from his company.
Alux is continually working to improve quality and it was also updating its image with a design theme that was seen both in its latest brochure and also on the walls of the stand.
Wiecowski said that Alux is now ready to take on more distributors and is particularly looking for representation in the UK and Scandinavia. In the longer term it would like to sell to the USA, Africa and Russia.
The display was particularly focussed on the WA9 ironing table with a built-in boiler, and up-steam, vacuum and blow functions. It was also introducing a steam generator that has been designed for businesses with a high steam consumption as it can deliver up to 35kg/hour. Other products on show included include a spotting cabin and bagging machines.
Pony sees the show as an international event and the company had noticed that many drycleaners were seeing a decrease in the number of jackets and trousers they handle but at the same time demand for shirt services was is increasing and it was investing in developing this area. Export director Massimo Sanvito said that the company’s shirt machine range covered different levels of production but there had been increased demand for automated machines to increase productivity, and in particular for a double-buck machine. To fill this gap in the range, it was showing a double-buck shirt press that could produce up to 1,000 shirts an hour.
Another important product was the Ozocab, a sanitising/deodourising cabinet and Sanvito said that this would allow drycleaners to extend their services as well as attracting sales from laundries and other markets.
It could be used for work uniforms, imported garments that needing refreshing after shipping, and also for items that could not be washed such as shoes.
Roland Fleischmann, sales manager at Ghidini confirmed the general feeling that this was a good exhibition and that it was truly international. He said: "We always show our complete range to cover the varying needs from country to country.
Ghidini was introducing a range of height-adjustable ironing tables that could be supplied with either a standard table or a larger one. They could be offered with vacuum, vacuum and blow, functions and operate from a central steam supply or a self-contained boiler.
The company had an app that would allow customers to see all the range on-line. He acknowledged that the drycleaning market had declined slightly but felt that in a couple of years markets would stabilise allowing businesses to feel more confident in investing.
Walter Cividini, managing director of Fimas, said that the company specialises in finishing equipment for drycleaners that also provide a laundry service. The company was focusing a new line of automated formers that could be used for wetcleaned or washed garments.
The range included double-buck shirt finishers that could produce 80 – 90 shirts per hour with one operator.
It was also introducing a table for stretching curtains that is useful for curtains that need to be returned to size.