Spring is a special time when the dark, cold months move aside and we see brighter days, happier times and get to see small shoots grow beautifully in nature, writes Richard Brown, managing director of Industrial Laundry Equipment (ILE). In laundry, we typically have a quieter darker winter period followed by a brighter spring but we have also already seen many interesting changes to the market.

Laundries of all sizes are seeing their business steadily growing as we progress through the year and we have heard many stories where the smaller laundries are coming back so strongly that they are struggling to keep up due to staffing issues or equipment restraints.

For years we have seen a steady market with similar customer and supplier trends but things are changing in the laundry market.

With rising production costs, we are often seeing larger laundries passing up on smaller clients, some laundries reducing their working radius to save on transport costs and most laundries are also increasing prices in order not only to make ends meet, but to stabilise and focus on having good contracts over working just for the sake of being busy. This has allowed the medium-sized independent laundries and the smaller laundries in turn, to benefit and grow their business.

choiIndustrial Laundry Equipment believes now is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of this fresh start by having fresh choice.

We have seen lots of success as a company with a huge range of equipment being supplied to the market over the last few years. We initially set out expecting to specialise in large washers and dryers (of which we have supplied a large amount) but wrapping machines, towel folders, feeders, folders and a crazy number of ironers have become our bread and butter too.

ILE brand ironers are giving an exceptional finish and are proving to be phenomenally well-received by our customers and their customers in turn.

We have what we believe to be the widest range of ironers available to the UK market and have equipment that will improve every laundry regardless of size and requirements.

Four different types of ironers utilising different technologies and all available in 3m, 3.3m and 3.5m and in return feed through to 6 roll monsters, we give you a choice of a remarkable 159 different machines/permutations.

For the OPL market and smaller laundry we have the 1st machine in our range which is a traditional return feed belt ironer that has an atmospheric burner heating the rotating belt clad drum. This machine works like most other machines on the market but we have taken the decision to increase the roller diameter to 800mm based on feedback that other machines can only process 50-60 sheets per hour. Our machine will increase this to 80+ whilsenot being more expensive to buy.

Our second type of ironer is the OR Series hybrid Ironer which also works with belts rather than clothing.

This machine uses a Riello burner to heat around 80 litres of thermal oil which resides in the bottom part of the drum’s outer skin. The use of this technology improves efficiency and productivity as a smaller burner is used than in machines without the oil and the ironer is able to better retain heat in a lesser but similar way to a full chest ironer.

You can specify this machine with a choice of 1-6 rolls in a pass-through formation like all calender ironers. Full scale feeders and folders capable of 1000+ items per hour can be teamed with these ironers to maximise production and help you compete with the big boys. The machine is available in 3m, 3.3m and 3.5m widths as well as 600mm, 800mm, 1000mm and 1200mm diameter rolls.

If you know that buying a return feed or one of the compact all-in-one machines which are on the market will only be an expensive stop gap then choosing the ILE OR** ironer will allow you to expand without wasting a penny as we can grow the ironer with your needs. You can add rolls, a feeder, folder and stacker with very little disruption.

This machine has been greeted with amazement by our customers and we have seen many successfully installed across the UK and a couple into Europe too.

Chris Gillard, managing director of Sunrise Laundry Services in Crewe chose a 2-roll, 3.3m x 800 diameter OR gas ironer with a 1&4 lane folder and stacker 18 months ago and has recently taken on another unit and added a 2nd identical ironing line as well as multiple 25kg & 40kg washers and dryers.

Gillard says: “Having worked for a large laundry group and with all main brands of calendar ironer, I can honestly say that this machine is a revelation! We get a superb finish to match any ironer I’ve ever used and zero belt marks, which was a concern prior to installation. The fact that the machine cost around 50% of a chest ironer, was an added bonus!

“We installed the first line with the intention of reducing working hours and increasing efficiency but this was such a success that we then had increased capacity and were able to use it as a platform for growth. Now we have added a second ironing line and are enjoying seeing the business flourish with the help and support of ILE.”

Max Fretwell-Kirkham, owner of UK Laundry Group invested in a 2-roll 3,3m x 800 diameter OR gas ironer and combined it with his existing Weir folder but also added an ILE vacuum feeder to speed up the process.

Fretwell-Kirkham said: “This was a huge investment for us and we were getting advised by many equipment suppliers that we must have a chest machine, but the outlay was too much in the current climate. When ILE offered us a 2-roll ironer which would link with our existing equipment, for a great price we were interested but understandably worried as it was different. I have to say that these fears were unfounded as we love the machine. We have a better quality than ever before, can process significantly more and have been able to grow the business substantially in just a matter of months and with no extra staff.

“We have also added a number of washers from ILE and can only say positives about the equipment, company and engineers. I have plans to significantly grow the company and we now have confidence that we can do so at a rate of knots as we have found a perfect supply partner to help us and to make it possible that we offer the best quality to our customers in turn.”

For larger laundries ILE has a fantastic range of solid chest ironing lines available in steam and gas, with 800 and 1300 diameter rolls and up to 3 rolls in length.

Using Riello burners, Bonfigioli speed reducers, Mitsubishi and Schneider electrics, colour touch screens and other high-quality components, our chest ironer can give you speeds of 50m per minute and process over 1000 sheets per hour to a 5* finish when linked to our high-quality feeders and folders.

Finally, ILE combination ironers offer the ability to team 1 or 2 “OR” rolls with up to 3 of the “OC” chests! This can be for a number of reasons such as using the belt ironer(s) as a preconditioning roller to support the chest for extra through-put, for keeping the costs down but getting in to the chest market or you may just want to have a machine with unprecedented through-put levels. Imagine what a 3 x 1300 chest ironer with 2 x 1200 preconditioning rollers can produce!

So, remember that with this fresh start, there is a fresh choice that really could be the best choice. ­