Modern drycleaning machines are much more efficient, use less solvent and energy and can bring significant benefits to a drycleaning business. The key is to choose the right machine for the business.

Perchloroethylene (perc) remains the solvent of choice for the majority of the UK’s professional cleaners. They also now have the option of choosing from cleaning systems that are based on recently introduced solvents such as Ktex, Arcaclean, HIGlo, Intense and Sensene. These solvents are available alongside established solvents like perc, hydrocarbon solvent (HCS), Solvon K4 and GreenEarth. In addition, wetcleaning is gaining favour.

One of the major factors in deciding on which machine to purchase should be the quality of service and cost of spare parts, according to Sheila Higgs from Dane Realstar, the UK-based laundry and drycleaning specialists. Many clients focus on the cost of the purchase and do not take into consideration the lifetime cost of the machine, she says.

These costs can vary considerably and could run into thousands of pounds over the lifetime of the machine.

She advises cleaners to purchase a good quality machine, backed by good service and spares part support. “Purchase from a reputable company, a company that is part of the SLEAT (Society of Laundry Engineers & Allied Trades) Code of Practice, for peace of mind,” she adds. For a newcomer to the industry it would be vital that the machine is purchased from a reputable supplier with a proven track record, who can offer good after sales service and support.

“If the budget allows a new machine should be purchased,” says Higgs. “If it has to be a secondhand machine, it should be as new as possible or it needs to be refurbished to a high quality with all the latest Solvent Emissions Directive (SED) requirements.  It should be supplied with a warranty too.”

At the forefront

For the past 30 years the names of Parrisianne and Union of Italy have been at the forefront of the drycleaning machine market. Parrisianne has great experience in supplying the correct machine to meet the customer needs.

Matt Dowse, operations manager for Parrisianne, agrees that interest in alternative solvent machines is increasing but says people will continue to buy perc machines, at least for the next 10-15 years.

Over the last two to three years, Parrisianne has seen an increase in the sales of the Union multi solvent machines. He feels this is due to the fact that strong solvent regulations are coming into force in France plus ever increasing improvements in the solvents being developed and the greater eco-friendliness of the solvents. He points out that Union are putting much more of their research and development into multi solvent machines and over the last  decade, Union’s production of machines worldwide has changed from 80% in favour of perc machines to 80% multi solvent machines.

Most of the questions being asked by new investors now days are not so much about the machine, but about which solvent they should use, says Dowse. Parrisianne’s vast experience in the market, its understanding of the market and the support of Union means they can help customers to purchase the best machine for their individual situation. He believes alternative solvent machines do work out to be more cost-effective in the long run.

“One of the biggest concerns for customers is the cost of the new solvents, but this does not need to be a worry as the Union multi solvent machine has such a good drying system, that the Union machine can achieve a much lower consumption level and can give as much as 4/5 times greater efficiency than a perc machine.”

He agrees that a multi solvent machine will cost about 25% more than a basic perc machine but adds that with all the environmental issues facing the world today, “we need to be sure we will be able to use our investment in the years to come.”

There are additions that can be installed on the latest perc machines, such as secondary solvent recovery units, additional water separation and solvent PPM monitoring in the machine, but this will increase the cost of the perc machine by between 30%-35%.

The Union perc range of machines are the 8000 series, L (wide machine) or P (slim machine), with loading capacities, from 10kg up to 25kg for the slim line range and up to 40kg for the wide range.  Machines including and above the 18kg loading, can be supplied with the larger drying fan unit, which decreases the drying time. All Union 8000 series machines are supplied with secondary heat pump, electronic drying control, soap doser and meet all SED requirements. The idromatic still waste pump out, artic line solvent chiller, dominomix spray system and recuper solvent recovery unit can be supplied as optional extras.

Multi-solvent options

The Union 8000 H series Multi-Solvent Class 111A machines, can also be supplied in capacities from 10kg up to 40kg and are built in wide or slim line format, and as the name suggests the machines can be programmed to work with all the latest solvents available in the market. As with the Union 8000 perc, all machines meet SED requirements.

The latest addition to the 8000 series is the K range, originally designed to work with SystemK4 solvent and soaps but more recently proving its worth in some of our installations as a true multi-solvent machine with the capability to work with Hydrocarbon and Cyclosiloxanes (D5/GreenEarth®).

Parrisianne currently has 10 Union 8000 Series K range machines working in the UK. One of the installations undertaken was at Salisbury Cleaners in West London.  The owner Tony Moran had been using perchloroethylene for over 30 years for his business but was keen to embrace a new solvent. The first few weeks by his own admission took a bit of getting used to with the new solvent and soaps used but since then has been singing its praises.

Moran says: “I was an old school drycleaner that believed nothing could replace perchloroethylene, a solvent that had helped me build my business to where it is now however after discussing the Kreussler Solvon K4 with Jimmy Holt of Parrisianne I decided this could be the way to go with a new machine. I am amazed at how well it has replaced my old perc machine, the garments we are processing are coming out just as clean but softer and brighter, I am happy, my staff are happier, our working environment is improved but most importantly my customers are happy.”

 The initial cost of alternative solvent machines, when compared to perc machines was previously one of the main reasons for people’s reluctance in purchasing, says Jason Alexander, managing director of Renzacci UK.

Future proofing and differentiation

“Now we are seeing the cost of this machinery coming within a similar price range, customers are now thinking harder about their choices. More consideration regarding future proofing and differentiation is now evident.”  The majority of Renzacci UK’s drycleaning sales in the UK in 2016 were replacement machines, with a split of around 50/50 between perc and alternative solvents.

Now after rigorous testing, all Renzacci multi solvent machines including our Nebula hydrocarbon machine can now use the new Sensene solvent produced by Safechem, says Alexander. Sensene is a modified alcohol solvent which has a very high solvency power but which is inherently biodegradable, with low aquatic toxicity and therefore an environmentally responsible way of drycleaning.

“This new solvent provides new opportunities for those who want to provide greener services but prefer traditional methods. Not only will you have a superior cleaning power but when used with the Renzacci Nebula your maintenance costs are reduced and your bottom line increases.”

As is always the way, the main key factor in decision making, when buying a drycleaning machine is price. “What we consistently find is that some customers are often attracted by a cheaper priced machines, but do not take into consideration other factors like servicing and after sales support,” says Alexander. Customers should be mindful if the machines are so cheap when compared to others – normally this is due to poor build quality. “Whilst a cheaper machine in the short term seems to be a good purchase, customers really should think about that fact that this is a 15 year, long term investment and will that company be able to support them for the life of the machine? Will they be around in 15 years? Will the build of the machine last 15 years without good quality materials and construction?” Alexander points out that as the longest established independent supplier in the UK, and with over 45 years of experience, its equipment is constructed of the highest quality materials and customers also highly value our after sales and technical support.

One innovation to be released is the Smart app for the Renzacci i-Brain. “This means that wherever you go, your machine is always with you. The app allows you to control your drycleaning machine as if you were standing in front of it. This is especially helpful for an owner who maybe is out on deliveries or has several shops to manage,” says Alexander. “This enables shops to work more efficiently while owners are multitasking which saves them time and energy.”

“We often have to wait till owner/operators are standing with the machine to be able to talk them through issues that can sometimes arise. The new app means that if issues occur, that shop staff are not able to deal with, we can quickly talk through the management of the machine over the phone and any issues can be quickly resolved. Information is instantly available on the app and the machine can be up and working quicker.”

The app can carry out all process from an easy to use android tablet. Customers can swipe between screens and will see the same images, buttons and information as available on the machine display. This includes all the information about cycles, running functions, operating parameters and alarms. All the information is provided in real time, is clear and completely intuitive. Warnings and alarms have an independent report generated, but the app can also relay Pop-Up information for dedicated warnings like filter cleaning etc.

Increased interactivity

With increased interactivity and operating flexibility, when the machine is in stand-by the app can vary several important functions including the processing speed, drying inlet and outlet temperature and set the number of soap dosing pumps. Depending on the machine model, functions like the water level of the still heating element and current state of the solvent level can also be monitored.

The app is now available when requested on all models that have the i-Brain computer, but is not available on machines that have already been installed. “It is hoped this additional service will allow our customers to be more reactive and work smarter to increase profits and experience a superior and practical solution to everyday problems.”

Renzacci UK can offer customers a full complement of pre and post sales services. “We are renowned for being a one stop shop and have a number of free offerings including CAD drawing, site visits, business health checks and our fully working showroom. We can also offer our customers finance, installation service, equipment servicing and maintenance plans, extended warranties, spare parts and full training.”

Leading laundry chemical and machine supplier, Alex Reid has added to its range of laundry machines as it concludes a deal with Unisec of Spain to act as its UK sales representative for a selection of its drycleaning machines. The addition of the Unisec units will provide customers with more choice in machines using both perc and alternative solvents, with load capacities from 8 to 140 kilos.

Highly regarded worldwide, Unisec sells across Europe, Russia, South America, the Middle East and USA. Alex Reid general manager, Stuart Fullerton, said: “Signing with Unisec completes our machine portfolio and means we now have a range that is second to none. We are delighted to be working with Unisec who have a great reputation for top quality machines to tackle all dry cleaning requirements.”

Alex Reid will carry the full Unisec range which includes perc machines and multi solvent machines. There are two types of multisolvent machines – the Junior HCM and the Ecoplus series. The Junior HCM machines have been developed for both standard textile cleaning and specialist treatment processes such as fur and leather. These machines have enhanced safety features that guarantee maximum garment safety as well as high performance.

The Ecoplus machines offer one of the most economical options for dry cleaning and are the machine of choice for professionals worldwide. The latest is the JM161HC, a small and innovative model with an 8kg load capacity and one tank of solvent. This smaller sized machine offers the ideal solution for outlets with minimal space, or for hotels, and is the perfect complementary machine to wetcleaning.