In recent times traditional perc drycleaning has come very much under the legislative eye in North America, so it was natural that alternative solvents and cleaning methods should be clearly on view at the 2009 Clean Show.

As on the laundry stands, the general feeling from drycleaning companies was that visitors were serious about doing business, although numbers were lower and some of the European exhibitors were disappointed about this.

Vincenzo Minarelli, export manager for drycleaning machine maker Firbimatic, admitted that the first day had been a little slow but was generally positive. The drycleaning market in the USA has slowed down a little, but

Firbimatic has distributors in more than 100 countries worldwide.

The company was introducing Hysaver, a redesign of the regular Saver machine that features a combination of high pressure injection and immersion cleaning.

The machine was designed for hydrocarbon or GreenEarth solvents. Cleaners can use the traditional immersion method but the option of high pressure injection improves cleaning on heavily-soiled work.

Minarelli said that, in contrast to some markets, the transfer system was still in use in the USA. So the company was also showing a separate dryer with an enclosed circuit for use with systems based on alternative solvents. The dryer could also suit cleaners that already have a full drycleaning system and want to increase productivity. It could also be used for drying washed or wetcleaned clothes.

The main news on the GreenEarth stand was its deal with Xeros Systems to bring the nearly waterless polymer-based “washing” system to the North American drycleaning market (LCNi July and 6 July live news).

This uses 90% less water than conventional wash systems, relying on the stain absorption properties of nylon polymer beads. Although this method is still under development, a prototype machine has been designed and GreenEarth Cleaning hopes to bring the system to the North American drycleaning market in late 2010.

It will have the distribution rights for this market and will also help by providing around 20 affirmation sites in the system’s final development stages. When the Xeros system does come on stream, it should prove a good complement to the GreenEarth solvent, allowing cleaners to have an environmentally friendly method for laundering clothes alongside GreenEarth drycleaning.

Ilsa of Italy/and its USA sister company Columbia were presenting Ilsa ‘s innovative Ipura hydrocarbon-based injection system with live demonstrations being held throughout the show. The stand also included a display of nine machines illustrating Ilsa’s environmentally-friendly hydrocarbon range, which covers capacities from 4 – 99lb. In addition to these and to the Ipura system, the company was also featuring the Tandem machine, which can process two loads at the same time and the Drynique, a dryer that features a hydrocarbon recovery unit and is designed for transfer systems.

Although the show had become quieter by the third day, Roberto Grandi, sales manager for Realstar, and its sister laundry brand Aquastar, was pleased. The stand had a lot of visitors on the first day and as expected these had been seriously interested in buying. “I think it remains the most important show for the North American market and also for South America,” he said.

Grandi added that the emphasis on alternative solvents was greater than previously. “This is the first time that we are showing six machines for alternative solvents but only one using perc.

“The American market is pushing to alternatives for sure,” he remarked. Although perc is “king” in Europe, he thought that Expo Detergo in Milan October 2010 would provide a good opportunity for promoting hydrocarbon.

As this appears to be the future of drycleaning, Realstar was showing the appropriately named Vision hydrocarbon machine. This represents a further development in environmental friendliness, as it eliminates the need for water and steam and instead of a distillation unit uses a special filtration system that allows steam-free operation. It is already in Europe,

The company started selling washers some three and a half years ago and now the Aquastar range represents a big part of the business. Aquastar can supply any kind of equipment for drycleaners and for industrial laundries. Currently the range is being sold in Italy, France, UK, Greece, Poland, Germany, and also Indonesia and Australia but it would be introduced to the USA soon, said Grandi.

Renzacci’s Marco Niccolini said the first two days had been better than expected although the third day had been slow.

He felt that the Clean Show had to work more on attracting distributors who were not local to the venue. Nevertheless despite these criticisms he thought it was “still a very important show”.

Renzacci had just opened a laundry company for the USA, based in Jacksonville, Florida, with Greg Barber as its president. Renzacci is carrying out a project to boost sales to the USA and the opening of the Florida company represents a big expansion of the laundry business.

In drycleaning, the company was presenting a line of hydrocarbon and multi-solvent machines, with a dual filtration system that will save a lot of time and solvent.

Italclean’s Eugenio Boni, was disappointed with the show, although he had seen some interesting customers, he felt the numbers were too low.

Italclean has revised its hydrocarbon range and was showing an 11kg (25lb) machine that represents the new starting point. Previously the smallest machine was 15kg (35lb).

Gabriele Cuppini sales director at Union said he had seen more customers than expected and there had been a great deal of interest in the machines, mainly from the USA.

“The American market is looking for hydrocarbon or GreenEarth machines and this is mostly what we are selling right now,” said Cuppini. He added that there had been very strong interest in the Nova machines, which can use either solvent. This range offers substantial reductions in operational costs and more effective cleaning as a result of introducing the Unijet system.

This injects solvent into the wheel at high pressure to improve the solvent’s penetration of the fibres, resulting in better soil removal and better general cleaning.

Unijet is still an immersion-based method – it uses the jet and the immersion at the same time. The system is air-cooled so there is no need of steam or gas. Electricity consumption is low. Maintenance is also reduced.

All these factors reduce the Nova’s running costs.

The range, which is already available in Europe, includes 10, 15, 18, 25 and 40kg machines in both slimline and wide designs.

Solvair reported a successful show demonstrating the benefits of its drycleaning system which uses an unidentified eco-friendly solvent for the cleaning process and then rinses the work under pressure using CO2. Clothes are then dried by releasing the pressure, allowing the CO2 to evaporate.

The Drycleaning & Laundry Institute named Solvair as the winner of this year’s Technology Trailblazer award.

Solvair says that cleaners using the system have found it helps them to differentiate their business from the competition.

Last month (August 2009) the company announced that it had introduced a price structure allowing it to reduce the purchase price of the machine, reclaiming part of the cost via the monthly charge for consumables.

Kreussler, the specialist in chemicals for the drycleaning industry, was doing good business at its stand. Richard Fitzpatrick, vice president at Kreussler in Florida, said the company had been quite stable. It had found opportunities and as a result felt it was in a much stronger position than its competition.

Thomas Zeck, marketing manager at the German head office, was also very positive. “The Clean Show is the show everybody wants to attend. You can’t miss it. The show is a pull for new technology.” He added that the crisis has made people want to find solutions that will help their business.

Fitzpatrick said the stand had a strong focus on the Lanadol wetcleaning range and an increasing number of visitors were asking about this. Kreussler is a pioneer of this method and the USA is the biggest market for wetcleaning. Most of these are dedicated plants. Landlords are becoming nervous about allowing traditional perc drycleaning on their properties and more states want to phase-out or restrict perc, so wetcleaning is popular.

Kreussler was also introducing its Clip GreenConc to the USA. This ultra-concentrated detergent can be used with hydrocarbon or perc. It helps to reduce running costs as less is needed.

The eco theme is apparent in all Kreussler’s range. Its products are free of Apeo, NTA and phosphates.

Pony, the Italian manufacturer of finishing equipment was optimistic.

The company has had ETL approval for its products since 2005 – this is necessary for the USA and Canada, although Mexico accepts European standards.

Massimo Sanvito said his company is now beginning to sell its machines to the USA under the Pony name, so this show was a good opportunity to promote the brand. It was exhibiting a representative selection of its equipment: ironing table, spotting board, trouser topper, multi-finisher (shirts and jackets) and a former specifically designed for wetcleaned garments. All the machines on show had already been sold.

In addition to the categories mentioned, the company also makes presses and obtained ETL approval for these this year, so now its complete range is approved for the USA.

On the Hoffman New Yorker stand Tom Bolan reported that export business was fine. Sales to the Far and South East were slow but still growing and the pattern was similar in the Middle East.

But in the domestic market, there were people who wanted and needed equipment but could not get the necessary finance.

Despite the current crisis, Bolan still saw the Clean Show as unique, one where you could see products from a large number of manufacturers in one hall. “No downturn is continuous,” he said. “If somebody is spending money to come here they’re very serious about doing business.”

Products being launched included a rotary shirt unit with optional sleeve pleating device and automatic unloading onto a conveyor and a compact single-buck shirt unit that can press body, sleeve and sleeve pleat at the same time.

Trevil business development manager Corinna Mapelli said the company’s finishing equipment is suitable for wetcleaned garments, providing the quality such items need. Trevil was showing the latest improvements to its Trevistar range, a shirt finisher with built in cuff placket press. This introduced a system to speed up the finishing of the yoke area. As this system does not have a polished head, shirts can be finished quickly without leaving a shine or impression. The Trevistar also has improved electronics which allow the machine to be controlled more easily. Mappelli reports that the American market is very quiet. Businesses are postponing purchases because of difficulties in getting finance, but taking that into account, the show had been satisfactory.

Ken Uchikoshi said that the Sankosha stand had been much busier than he expected. The company was introducing a linen press with an automatic feed. Normally sheets are finished on a roller, but this press will handle them which gives it a USP. It is designed for upmarket cleaners who do laundry and have the right skills to handle linen. The display also included a double-buck machine with a yoke press for the shoulder area, and prototypes for a shirt folding machine and a packaging machine.

At Unipress, sales manager Tom Stites said he was very pleased with the show. The company had not known in advance what to expect but, in the context of the economy, it had decided it needed to show a new range of products and was going to be positive.

While many companies were reducing the booth size and number of staff, Unipress would not go that route. Stites stressed: “We know we’ll make it thorough the economic downturn and we wanted to show customers we will be there for years to come, developing sales and services.

“When we explained this strategy our strong European dealers, they decided to invest also and to come and spend a full week with us so that they could educate customers about the new range and support us.”

These dealers included BMM Weston, Holger Wendt of Germany and Landuwasco of the Netherlands.

On show was a new range of Lightning appliances. The company has adapted its pleat press so that can be used for sleeve pleats including the sleeve vent.

The PVP pleat vent press is available on the single-buck machine and on an all-in-one with built in collar cuff and on a double-buck machine.

The Green Garmento company has been formed to market a multi-purpose innovative garment carrier that can be used in three different ways. It fits into a hamper frame for storing garments, and converts into a duffel type bag for carrying them to the shop and then in a hanger bag for carrying the finished garments home.

Jenni Nigrosh, joint owner of the company says that the bags can be customised, either in the USA or at the factory in China so drycleaners can sell them or use them as a marketing tool.

She reported the show had gone well and she had seen several potential distributors.