Greater flexibility in drying programs, bigger savings in energy costs and growing demand for support services are all driving change in the OPL marketplace.
An on-site service offers clear advantages for businesses that need a regular supply of clean linen. While the hospitality industry and the care market remain the largest users, the OPL sector can also include several other categories such as fitness centres, sports clubs, vets and equestrian businesses.
While the present and anticipated state of the economy is an important influence on the market, price alone is not the key factor in the purchasing decision, says Armstrong Commercial Laundry Systems’ director Tom Lowes.
In his view, long-lasting, reliable equipment is a prime customer requirement in an economic environment that is still tough."While energy efficiency is important both in cost and environmental terms, we find that laundry equipment is usually worked for as long as it is cost effective – which in the case of our products is often a very long time!" says Lowes. Drying remains one of the most energy-consuming processes in the laundry and all operators, OPL or otherwise, are seeking ways of reducing their bills.
Armstrong supplies a wide range of dryers to the OPL market and it is the UK distributor for the Huebsch dryers range from Alliance Laundry Systems.
This covers capacities from 8 – 77kg. Lowes says that selected models in the Huebsch range feature Over-drying Prevention Technology (OPT), which cuts energy and labour costs and prolongs linen life.
OPT dryers have sensors built into the lifters that monitor the dryness level throughout the load. The dryer temperature is high at the start of the cycle so that the load quickly reaches a half-dry state. The temperature then reduces until the programmed level of the dryness has been reached and the machine then switches off immediately.
Although Huebsch introduced OPT as an extra cost, energy saving option on many of its dryers a few years ago, Lowes, says that in the present financial climate, Armstrong is finding that most UK operators prefer to stay with simple, lower cost controls. These are still very effective, especially when laundry staff are very familiar with the loads they are processing.
Finance packages such as conventional lease purchase plans and Armstrong’s own fully inclusive, fixed price hire terms are popular options, relieving customers of the capital expenditure necessary for outright purchase.
Armstrong installed a laundry at Reading Football Club’s Madejski Stadium more than 15 years ago. This laundry, which handles staff and players kit, is still operational and many of the machines from the original installation are still working well.
However, as the majority of the kit is used at the Hogwood Park training ground, the club decided to install a laundry there last year. After contacting Armstrong, some equipment was moved from the Madejski Stadium and two new 16kg Huebsch gas-heated tumble dryers were installed.
The laundry is operated by three people who look after the kit for over 20 staff and 50 – 60 players. Selby Armstrong, who is responsible for all match and training kit at the club, says: "The laundry is operating for around eight hours a day, six days a week and reliability is vital. The equipment that Armstrong provided 15 years ago is still going strong, and the company has never let us down so using them again was a natural choice."

Growing interest in wetcleaning
Girbau UK finds customers are increasingly looking at energy efficiency and there is a growing interest in wetcleaning, says managing director Peter Marsh. Girbau’s ED Series dryers fr provide even greater control over individual elements of the program including speed, drum rotation and heating to ensure maximum efficiency.
The dryers offer huge energy savings and are ideally suited to wetcleaning as well, says Marsh. Girbau’s ED Series dryers feature Transflow technology, which combines radial and axial airflow for greater efficiency throughout the drum, so reducing cycle times and lowering energy consumption.
Cabinet insulation and a double-glazed door prevent heat escaping and further optimise energy efficiency.
The ED Series dryers have a sophisticated microprocessor system that gives greater control of the drying process. The dryers have an accurate built-in humidity control that automatically senses when clothes are dry and activates the cooldown process maximising energy efficiency. This prevents overdrying and increases operational efficiency by as much as 25% when compared with older dryers. There are 10 preset programs to suit the most commonly laundered fabrics but additional programs are easy to set up. The dryers can also be programmed for drying delicate fabrics that have been through a specialist wetcleaning process.
Girbau has a full range of finance options including rental and lease purchase that minimise the need for up-front payment and maximise the saving that can be achieved over the life of the product. Customers can also choose one of its Complete Laundry Care plans for the added reassurance of rapid response service and maintenance.

Energy saving credentials
Mick Christian, regional training and demonstration manager for laundry, at Electrolux Professional says that while customers are generally most interested in the energy saving credentials of dryers, this would very rarely persuade someone into replacing a working machine. The timing of a decision to replace a machine depends to some extent on budgets, but he says that the company rarely sees replacements on dryers until the current machine has reached the end of its operational life – a situation that does not necessarily apply to washers.
"There is always going to be an emphasis on productivity, but as long as a dryer can cope with linen demand, it won’t generally be replaced until the time comes for a distress purchase."
He says that the tumble dryer is the most energy intensive machine in the laundry so innovations are crucial for enhancing its performance. Earlier this year Electrolux Professional launched the T5190 Low Energy (LE) Dryer.The dryer, which uses heat pump technology, was developed with contributions from users and experts in the professional laundry market worldwide.
Their knowledge helped drive improvements in the dryer’s engineering, ergonomics and design that have increased the efficiency of the process and also allowed easy, fast access for maintenance and repair.
Designed to last for 30,000 cycles, the LE Dryer conserves heat rather than releasing it into the surrounding environment and it decreases energy consumption by over 50% compared to conventional dryers with a class A energy label.
As well as saving energy Electrolux’s T5190LE dryer is also quick – it takes 51 minutes to complete the full load cycle. Its "Plug-and-Perform" installation allows greater flexibility in OPL layout as no exhaust or ventilation is needed. The dryer also features a water-save valve, which secures system cooling and ensures effective drying independent of room temperature.
The Low Energy dryer is equipped with the Electrolux Professional residual moisture control system. This measures the exact moisture content throughout the drying process and stops when the set residual moisture level is achieved. The level can be adjusted to suit the type of garment that is being dried. This prevents overdrying and shortens the drying time, resulting in further energy savings. If maintenance or servicing is needed, the heat pump box can be easily removed for fast and convenient access to vital parts.
Ease of use is one of the priorities in a customer’s mind and the Electrolux says that each product in its Line 5000, including the dryers, features the Professional Compass Pro interface. This allows laundry operators to have a wider choice, as they can select from up to 55 programs, 15 of which can be customised to precise requirements.
Electrolux has developed three, five and seven year leasing options that work on a monthly rental cost basis.
The company has designed its leasing options to be as simple as possible for customers. The Excellence Agreement includes equipment, delivery, installation, servicing and removal of existing equipment. This structure minimises downtime with regular maintenance checks and protects a business, should a serious problem arise.

Quality is crucial
On-premise laundries allow businesses to manage their own laundry, giving them more flexibility and control over quality and costs, according to Miele Professional. .
Bringing laundries in-house can make a huge difference to costs. Miele points out that there is a huge amount of innovation, particularly in drying technology, that can ensure businesses stay ahead.
Miele Professional has launched its H2O range of commercial tumble dryers, which are heated using only hot water. This heated water can come from a variety of sources including solar-thermal energy, district heating, an on-premise co-generation plant or residual heat from a laundry. example.
The H2O dryers can potentially reduce heating costs to virtually zero if the source of heat is a co-generation plant: in this case, the hot water is a by-product of cooling the generation plant and does not need to be heated separately. This approach has the additional benefit of cooling the water in the H2O dryer for reuse as cooling water in co-generation.
In addition to the H2O dryer, Miele’s dryer range also includes another innovative product, the PT5137WP heat pump dryer which is said to reduce running costs by up to 60% compared with the company’s conventional condenser dryer.
The principle behind Miele’s heat pump technology is simple. The system works on a closed circuit and, hot, moisture-laden air from the dryer is passed through the heat pump where is it cooled and dehumidified through condensation in a heat-exchanger. The air then proceeds through a second
heat-exchanger, where it is re-heated before it is passed through the drum. Because the system uses a closed air circuit, there is no need for vent ducting. Miele says the system has major advantages over vented and traditionalcondenser dryers.
The cooling and dehumidifying process releases energy that is captured and used to pre-heat cold, dry air. This approach retains the latent heat within the process and thorough dehumidification allows the temperature of the process air to be kept at low levels.
Heat pump dryers reduce electricity consumption as they do not require electrical heating elements. Because the evaporator removes most of the moisture, air can be recirculated back into the drum, so allowing for a vent-free design. The combination of lower energy input, reduced operational consumption "wastage", Miele manufacturing quality, and extended machine life ensures that a heat pump dryer has a lower impact on the environment than any comparable traditional tumble dryer.
Miele Professional has a national network of dealers and outright purchase, rental and leasing options are available on a wide range of Miele products.